Trip to German Brazil – Festa Pomerana 2016
For many years, I’ve been reading about isolated linguistic and cultural groups in Brazil that came about as a result of the immigration patterns to Brazil at different stages of its history, e.g., Germans, Italians, Poles, Ukrainians, Confederate Americans and Japanese to name a few.
On previous trips to southern Brazil, I was always a bit disappointed not to hear much German spoken by the region’s inhabitants in daily life. Undeterred, I decided to venture further into the hinterland with my lederhosen to the Festa Pomerana in Pomerode, Santa Catarina to sample a traditional German-Brazilian festival in a town that calls itself “the most German town in Brazil”.
So why so German-Brazilians in the south of the country?
Between 1820 and 1975, more than 250,000 Germans settled in Brazil. A large proportion of these settled in the sparsely populated south of the country, where they typically had large families. Today, many towns in the south of Brazil are predominantly of majority German descent and a few still have significant numbers of German speakers.
A mosaic featuring the crest of Pomerania
Pomerode (pop. 25,000) lies just to the north of Blumenau (another town with a strong connection to German immigration) in the state of Santa Catarina. The immigration to Pomerode was primarily from the region of Pomerania (today the region is divided between Germany and Poland) which is in part the root of the name of the town.
I arrived in Pomerode determined to discover if German was really widely spoken in the town. The Wikipedia article I read suggested that the German speakers used a dialect of German called “Pommersch”. During my three days there, not only did I hear German spoken among the residents but it was common for locals to ask me if I also spoke German in addition to Portuguese … apparently I sound a little German when speaking (note to self: work the German out of my Brazilian-Portuguese accent 🙂 ).
The level of German was very impressive – excellent native-like Hochdeutsch and most ethnic Germans residents were excited to speak to a foreigner in German. I wasn’t able to find anyone who spoke in dialect although the locals sometimes used a few words from Portuguese which rolled off the tongue easier than the German word.
Me mingling with drindl-and-lederhosen-clad Brazilians
Festa Pomerana is an annual traditional German festival held in Pomerode. It is similar to many regional festivals held in Germany and very family-orientated. Local beer, food, music and dances of German origin feature and many attendees are dressed in traditional German clothes like lederhosen and drindl.
Festa Pomerana combines German heritage with southern Brazilian spirit
The atmosphere was festive and welcoming albeit definitely more reserved and sedate than a trip to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany (or to Blumenau which hosts the world’s second biggest Oktoberfest). The party remains very local with other attendees generally coming from the surrounding regions.
The traditional German attire was more conservative (there were strict rules outlined by the organizers) to that what is fashionable in Germany today where cleavage lines are lower for girls and there is more diversity in attire for men. Overall the festival was a fun and rewarding dive into German-Brazilian heritage.
Some local beer, meatballs and sausages – not the best diet for your waistline 😮