domingo, julho 24, 2005

A little extra-biblical partying

For those of you who've read about John the Baptist lately, this party might not seem like his sort of thing. Indeed, many people do not think of John the Baptist as much of a partier. However, here in the Brazilian Northeast, we are all partiers whether we like it or not! Here is a short photo-documentary of the proper way to celebrate the birth of St. John.

Come on, everybody now!

No, drinking is not included in the festivities (at least not for us). Just a lot of food made out of corn. Corn paste, corn cake, corn soup, etc. Just when you think you can't stomach one more thought of anything corn, another neighbor knocks on the door delivering another pan-full of corn cuisine. What do you do about it? Dance a lot.

Dancing away the corn-calories

Another important tradition is the bonfire. The bonfire is important because, according to tradition, Elizabeth lit a bonfire to signal to the Virgin Mary that John the Baptist had been born. While there is no verse in the Bible about that, it is fun.

Another part of the tradition (most likely not initiated by Elizabeth or the Virgin Mary) is setting off very loud fireworks. Really, anything that burns is free game, sanctioned as part of the traditional festivities -- sparklers, floating paper lanterns (though the government has tried to discourage them due to the danger posed to far-away buildings), pipes that go BOOM when you explode them.

And when you get tired of the ringing in your ears and the smoke in your eyes, you eat more corn cake and dance and dance and dance some more...