What is São João?

June 21, 2024


São João is a traditional Brazilian festival that celebrates the feast day of Saint John the Baptist. It is one of the most popular and beloved festivals in Brazil, with celebrations taking place throughout the country. The festival is known for its vibrant colors, lively music, and delicious food, making it a must-see event for anyone visiting Brazil.

History of São João

The origins of São João can be traced back to the European tradition of celebrating the summer solstice. When the Portuguese colonized Brazil, they brought their traditions with them, including the celebration of São João. Over time, the festival evolved to incorporate elements of Brazilian culture, such as music and dance, creating a unique and vibrant celebration that is unlike any other in the world.

Traditions and Customs

One of the most iconic traditions of São João is the quadrilha, a traditional Brazilian dance that is performed during the festival. The dance is a reenactment of a rural wedding, with dancers dressed in colorful costumes and performing intricate choreography to the sound of live music. Another popular tradition is the lighting of bonfires, which are said to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck to those who participate.

Food and Drink

No São João celebration would be complete without traditional Brazilian food and drink. Some of the most popular dishes include canjica, a sweet corn pudding, and paçoca, a peanut candy. For drinks, attendees can enjoy quentão, a hot mulled wine, and licor de jenipapo, a traditional Brazilian liquor made from the jenipapo fruit.

Music and Dance

Music and dance are at the heart of São João, with live bands and DJs playing traditional Brazilian music throughout the festival. One of the most popular genres of music is forró, a lively dance music that originated in the Northeast region of Brazil. Attendees can dance the night away to the sounds of accordion, triangle, and zabumba, creating a festive and energetic atmosphere.

Decorations and Festivities

São João is known for its colorful decorations and festive atmosphere. Streets and squares are adorned with colorful banners, balloons, and streamers, creating a vibrant and lively environment for festival-goers to enjoy. In addition to the decorations, there are also various activities and events taking place, such as parades, contests, and fireworks displays.

Regional Variations

While São João is celebrated throughout Brazil, each region has its own unique customs and traditions. In the Northeast region, for example, the festival is known for its large bonfires and traditional dances. In the South region, on the other hand, São João is celebrated with a focus on food and drink, with traditional dishes such as pinhão and quentão being served.

Modern Celebrations

In recent years, São João has become increasingly popular with tourists from around the world, who come to Brazil to experience the vibrant culture and festivities of the festival. Many cities and towns now host large-scale celebrations, with live music, dance performances, and traditional food and drink being served to attendees. São João has truly become a global phenomenon, attracting visitors from all corners of the globe.


In conclusion, São João is a vibrant and lively festival that celebrates the rich culture and traditions of Brazil. From traditional dances and music to delicious food and drink, São João is a must-see event for anyone visiting Brazil. Whether you are a local or a tourist, São João is sure to delight and entertain, making it a truly unforgettable experience.

Tatiana Cesso

As a journalist, I've made it my mission to explore and share stories that inspire, inform, and entertain. You may have stumbled upon my work in esteemed publications such as InStyle, Marie Claire, Bazaar, L’Officiel, and Vogue, among others. Having called the U.S. home since 2010, I've lived in Chicago, LA, and currently, Miami. But my heart always beats to the rhythm of Brazil. It's where I was born and raised, and my love for its culture, people, and energy knows no bounds. To share this passion, I've founded Brazilcore, a platform aimed at bridging the gap between Brazil and English speakers worldwide.