SEASON 1 | EPISODE 5
Hello and welcome to Brazilian English Podcast, I’m your host and teacher Derek Noble and in this podcast we talk about Brazilian culture and entertainment to help Brazilian students of English reach fluency in English and to spread our values and beliefs worldwide. Every episode is full of rich vocabulary for all levels of English also full of content related to a universe that, as we know, is enormous and interesting: I’m talking about Brazilian culture.
Hello, guys! How you doing today? I hope you’re feeling great! In today’s podcast we’re gonna talk about Brazilian Folk stories. Actually, 3 of them. Brazilian culture is full of myths, legends and beliefs that have been passed down orally1 from one generation to the next for centuries. Usually, these stories combine a mythological character and a moral value. The actions of these characters are used to convey2 a lesson or a warning to those who listen to the tales.
One of the most famous characters is Saci-Pererê. This playful creature is a one-legged youngster3 who is really mischievous4 and is blamed for anything that goes wrong in the farm. Saci is known for always having a pipe in his mouth. His power lies in his red cap, so if you intend to catch the Saci, you had better plan on how to steal his cap first. It is believed that he lost his leg while fighting capoeira, a traditional fight brought to Brazil by African slaves. Among his favourite pranks are hiding kitchen utensils, bang doors and let farm animals loose. If you are curious about him, he appears in a TV show called Sitio do Pica-Pau Amarelo and he is always disturbing Tia Anastacia by stealing the pies she bakes.
Also, the origins of this myth go back to the times when colonization took place in Brazil. It is said that the Saci would protect the indigenous reservations from the invasion of white people. So, whoever entered the woods without asking Saci’s permission would be chased5 by him and a victim of his pranks. This story is fortunately preserved in works by famous Brazilian writers and cartoonists such as Monteiro Lobato, Mauricio de Souza and Ziraldo. In 2005, the Brazilian Government created the Saci National Day, which is celebrated on the 31st of October. Good idea!
Another famous folk story in Brazil is the story of the Headless Mule. This myth is believed to have a medieval and religious origin. The mule was once a woman who was cursed for having sexual intercourse with a priest6 but some variations of the legend say that the woman who had sex before her marriage would also be transformed into a mule. This was perhaps a form of social control, since the families of young ladies wanted to keep them away from sin. It was a form of keeping the young ladies living according to the moral standards7 of the times.
The mule is a fire-spewing8 creature that gallops through the countryside from Thursday’s sundown to Friday’s sunrise. According to the myth, the mule’s colour is brown and sometimes black. It has iron horseshoes that produce a loud trotting and in spite of being headless, it neighs9. They say the mule roams around the parish where the sin was commited. In order to reverse the curse, the mule’s blood must be spilt by the prick of a needle. Legend has it that if you ever encounter the mule, you should never cross its path. Instead, you should either lie face down on the ground or be brave and try to reverse the spell. What would you do?
Last but not least, there is the Boto-Cor-de-Rosa story. It is basically a pink dolphin that turns into a handsome man to seduce unwary10 ladies. There are real pink dolphins because of the food they eat, but the legend is also used to highlight the special qualities of the dolphins. The Botos help the fishermen catch fish and also with their nose, they help the people who are drowning in the river.
The Boto-Cor-de-Rosa is a legend that could have had its origin in an indigenous tale. Rosita was an 18-year-old girl who lived with her family near the river banks11. One day as she went to collect water, Rosita decided to dive into the river for a swim. As she swam, a young man appeared sitting at the edge of the river. They started to talk and the young man told Rosita that he was a fisherman and after some time she fell in love with him. Together they spent many a night. Eventually, Rosita’s father found out about her affair and accidentally killed the fisherman. On a night, upon leaving Rosita’s bedroom, he forgot to change his shape back into a human shape. So, Rosita’s father spotted him and shot him. Nine months later, Rosita died giving birth to a pink dolphin and the father realised the dolphin he had killed was actually the fisherman her daughter was in love with.
Nowadays, in June festivities, the Boto is said to shift his shape into a handsome and seductive man. He wears a white hat to cover his face and disguise his big nose. He invites the ladies for a walk around the river bank where they make love and he gets them pregnant. The moral to this story is perhaps a way to alert young women not to trust handsome men. That is only my opinion, I really don’t know.
There are many other stories that fill in the collective imagination of Brazilians and help them cope12 with everyday problems. It is through stories that we understand the reach and effects of our reality and learn to live better. We should let ourselves from time to time get immersed in books that fulfill our imagination with hints13 of our History, Geography and nature. The education of imagination will help you live longer moments of happiness and it will teach you how to discern right from wrong, good from bad and holy from profane.
That’s it for today, guys! Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to do the exercises and improve your English even more. Talk to you guys later! Bye bye!!
1 – orally – oralmente
2 – convey – transmitir
3 – youngster – jovem
4 – mischievous – travesso
5 – chased – perseguido
6 – priest – padre
7 – standards – padrões
8 – fire-spewing – cuspidora de fogo
9 – neighs – relincha
10 – unwary – ingênuas
11 – river banks – margens do rio
12 – cope – lidar
13 – hints – dicas