The colors of the Feira de São Cristovão
In Rio de Janeiro there’s a place dedicated to the rich culture of the northeast region of Brazil. It’s called Feira de São Cristovão. Even before the inauguration of the pavilion, people used to gather here to eat traditional food and dance to the sound of the concertina. Thousands of migrants came to Rio de Janeiro to work in construction. Trucks filled with people hoping for a better life arrived at the Campo de São Cristovão. Neglect by the rest of the city, the place was not safe, and most Cariocas avoided it.
It was only in 2003 that a proper pavilion was inaugurated, named after the famous Northeastern singer Luiz Gonzaga, The King of Baião. You can see his statue playing the accordion in front of the main entrance.
The market grew and prospered. It’s pretty safe nowadays. On the weekend families go there for lunch. It’s a good place to buy souvenirs and eat delicious food. The entrance costs 5 Reais.
St John’s Day
I visited the Feira de São Cristovão on June 24th, St John’s Day (also known as Midsummer in some Northern countries). Inside, a maze of narrow corridors with stalls selling foods and crafts. Although it was the middle of Winter the place was hot. The smell of grilled cheese filled the air. The place was even more vibrant than on ordinary days. Colorful flags decorated the ceilings. There was loud music flowing from speakers everywhere. Each one was playing a different song causing the music to change every few steps.
As customary in St John’s Day celebrations, there was square dancing. Little kids dressed in folk costumes held hands in front of the stage. The girls were wearing pretty colorful dresses. The boys were wearing plaid shirts, jeans, and straw hats. On another stage, a folk singer animated the crowd. Couples danced to the beat of Forró, a rhythm very popular in Brazil’s Northeast. Throughout June, celebrations like this happen all over the country.
There are some restaurants inside with air conditioning, which is an essential asset during the summer months. When I arrived at noon the place wasn’t crowded yet. I could find a table at Barraca da Chiquita. I ate a traditional dish, Carne-de-sol (dried beef) with cassava and Baião-de-dois (mix of beans and rice).