Every year, in the month of June, that old ritual of tradition begins. It seems that people and the city are filled with a festive atmosphere, much like the Christmas season. The stores are full, the festivals spread throughout the city and even the television programming is different. Of course, in times of pandemic, the camps were canceled and there was only that feeling of longing for the Saint John.
At June parties they are celebrated throughout Brazil, but it is in the Northeast of Brazil that their roots are found. In the semi-arid and northeastern hinterlands, São João also means a time to thank for the blessings achieved and to always ask for rain, a determining factor for good harvests. That is why, at that time, three saints of the Catholic Church are honored: Santo Antônio, São João and São Pedro.
Santos honored in June
Fernando de Bulhões was born in Lisbon on an uncertain date between 1190 and 1195. In 1220, he migrated to the order of São Francisco, so he became known as Antônio. Around the age of 35, he died on June 13, 1231, in Padua, Italy, being canonized the following year. Therefore, his day is celebrated on June 13.
Santo Antônio is known for helping people find lost objects and for being protective of soldiers and retailers. However, his greatest fame is to be a matchmaker. There is a well-known sympathy that says that to get a fiance, just put the image of the Saint upside down in a glass of water. Only put him in the normal position when he finds the suitor.
John the Baptist was a prophet and forerunner of Jesus Christ. Cousin of Jesus Christ, he baptized him in the waters of the Jordan River. His date is celebrated on the day of his birth: June 24 (normally, when the day of a saint is celebrated, the date of his death is celebrated).
The legend goes that Saint John fell asleep on his birthday because, if he was awake, he would not be able to resist the festivities and would descend to Earth, being able to burn himself at the stake. This is one of the reasons for fireworks in the camps, in order to wake you up.
He was a fisherman from Galilee until he was invited by Jesus Christ himself to be his disciple. After the crucifixion of Christ, he became a leader of the Catholic Church, being considered the first Pope. São Pedro is considered the Holy Protector of fishermen, widows and the legend says that he was named as a keyring for heaven. He who opens the doors of heaven and makes it rain, for example.
In Maranhão, São Pedro gains one more attribution: he is the patron saint of the groups of Bumba meu Boi. A well-known tradition is that throughout the day, from the early hours of June 29, the groups of Bumba meu Boi go to the Chapel of São Pedro, located in the neighborhood of Madre de Deus, in São Luís, to ask for protection and to thank for the season of presentations and the blessings achieved. At the foot of the image of Saint Peter, the groups dance and the instruments do not stop, forming a mix of devotion and popular culture. This tradition has existed for more than eighty years.
São Marçal is known to be present in the well-known Bible story of the division of 2 loaves and 5 fish as a child. Later, he would become a disciple of St. Peter. In Maranhão, he is celebrated on the 30th of June and is also considered as the Patron Saint of the groups of Bumba meu Boi.
The city’s tradition is a marathon: the players go on June 29 in the Chapel of São Pedro and, on the following day, also go to Avenida São Marçal to thank and honor the Saint. The Battalions Meeting hits the streets of the João Paulo neighborhood every year.
The celebrations in 2020
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the tributes to the Saints have each been in their home. Groups of Bumba meu Boi in partnership with local companies, held during the month of June. It was a way to keep warm the hearts of so many people who like and depend on this beautiful and colorful party.