Brazil is full of colorful celebrations steeped in tradition and a sense of community. There’s the all-too-well-known Carnival, as well as many other festivities that bring Brazilians together throughout the year, such as the Boi Bumbá, June festivals, Folia dos Reis, and dozens more. Even more intriguing, different states often each have their own take on the same celebration. In certain other cases, these popular events are related to the region in which the tradition comes from. Such is the case with the Semana Farroupilha in Southern Brazil.
The Semana Farroupilha (lit. Ragamuffin Week) is a festive event in Porto Alegre and other cities of Rio Grande do Sul showcasing the gaucho culture. It’s commemorated during the 14th and 20th of September every year and is accompanied by the Farroupilha Camp, a central gathering place for the event. The festival features parades paying homage to the leaders of the Farroupilha Revolution and the start of the longest revolution and war for secession in Brazilian history (ca. 1835).
It’s a week where all gauchos take to the streets to celebrate, drinking chimarrão (yerba mate) and putting on shows while dressed in historical outfits. The women wear a dress typical of a “prenda” (the female partner of a traditional gaucho “peão”, or rural worker) and the men wear breeches, scarf, a large leather belt with small pockets on the side, and a hat.
The event has its roots in the autumn of 1947 when a school in Porto Alegre created a student-led Department of Gaucho Traditions, in an effort to stimulate cultural development through recreational events. One month later, they created the first Ronda Crioula, a schedule of events that would eventually become, 17 years later, the Semana Farroupilha.
During the most recent 2014 edition, over one million people passed through the Camp. That’s quite a turn out considering its humble beginnings! To see and learn more, there’s a great video (in Portuguese) that shows what the event is like. You can see it below (the event starts to be shown at minute mark 1:45)!