First Czech Festival in Brazil

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1st Czech Festival in Brazil and 12th Festival of Czech and Slovak Culture in Latin America, taking place on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of November 2023

On the 3rd, 4th and 5th of November 2023, the city of Nova Petrópolis hosted the 1st Czech Festival in Brazil and the 12th Festival of Czech and Slovak Culture in Latin America. Organized by the Association of Descendants of Bohemian Immigrants from the city of Nova Petrópolis – ADIB/NP, the choice of location is closely related to the history of the city and its strong relationship with the Czech and Slovak Republic, in this event translated by the presence of the Ambassador of the Republic Czech Republic in Brazil, Pavla Havrlíková, and the Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic in Porto Alegre, Fernando Lorenz de Azevedo.

Photo: Marcelo Moura | TRIO Comunicação Integrada Cristiano Pilz, Director of the Venâncio Aires Museum, Guilherme Stopassola Thiele, President of the Association of Descendants of Bohemian Immigrants in Nova Petrópolis, Karin Margareth Musel, President of the Czech-Brazilian Cultural Association in Porto Alegre(ACTB), Pavla Havrlíková, Czech Ambassador of Brazil, Viktor Dolista, Consul of the Czech Republic in São Paulo, Fernando Lorenz de Azevedo, Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic in Porto Alegre and guests from the Czech and Slovak communities from other Latin American countries.

A little about the History of Nova Petrópolis

Many Europeans immigrated to Brazil in the 19th century at the invitation of the Brazilian Government. The first large flow of immigrants came from the German Empire (Prussians) from 1824, but this was reduced during the Farroupilha War in the 1830s-40s and again in 1859 by a ban from the Prussian Government, due to complaints received from the immigrants who did not have their expectations met in Brazilian territory (Heydt's Rescript).

It turns out that Dom Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil, was a first cousin of Francisco José I, Emperor of Austria, and married to Tereza Cristina, who was an Italian princess. This proximity favored the beginning, from the 1870s, of an immigration movement from the Austrian Empire. Thus, Bohemians and Italians from the region of Trentino-Alto Adige and Trieste arrived in the mountainous region of Rio Grande do Sul. All, at the time, were Austrian citizens.

Especially for the Bohemians, the wars of 1866, between Austria and Prussia, and of 1870-71, between Prussia and France, became an additional reason for the Bohemians to abandon the land they loved so much and where they had a reasonable standard of living, in addition to full literacy, generational tradition and culture, and immigrate to Brazil, renewing hopes for a better future, without disputes, conflicts or wars.

This is how around 200 Bohemian families arrived in Nova Petrópolis. Other regions of the state also received Bohemian immigrants. As they were of Germanic ethnicity, the bohemians soon integrated with the Germans who had already resided in the mountainous region since 1858. However, the bohemians of Nova Petrópolis remained largely isolated for many years, due to the rugged terrain of hills and valleys of the Serra Gaúcha, and also because of the distance to reach other settlements and, especially, due to the difficulties of communicating in another language with these settlements, whose official language was Portuguese. This contributed to the preservation of customs, customs, tradition and culture, which translated into the strength and prominence that Nova Petrópolis had in being chosen as the Headquarters of such an important event.

Festival Stories

The 1st Czech Festival in Brazil and 12th Czech & Slovak Culture Festival in Latin America began on November 3rd, with a Celebration Cocktail, held at Espaço Sicredi Nova Petrópolis, to welcome all participants in this unprecedented moment in Brazil.

Photos: Marcelo Moura | TRIO Comunicação Integrada

The president of the Association of Descendants of Bohemian Immigrants (ADIB/NP), Guilherme Stopassola Thiele, together with the ADIB board of directors and the event's organizing committee, welcomed everyone in an atmosphere of relaxation, unity and friendship.

The Pramen Group, from São Paulo, formed by members and students of the Brazilian Czech Cultural Union and led by Czech language teacher, Ivana Malechová, and Dueto Argentino, formed by musicians Daniel Inger and Natan Klenovsky, set the tone for the pleasant evening of fraternization between Czechs, Slovaks, Brazilians, Argentines and Uruguayans.

November 4th was full of activities. Several workshops were held. We highlight the Experiences and Stories workshops from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, where young people Morgana Neuman and Henrique Lüdke reported on the exchange and Czech language course they took in May 2023, where they had the opportunity to get to know the City of Prague and historical sites such as the Terezin Concentration Camp.

The Czech Cooking and Beer Workshops were a success. Patricia Pachinsky(Nova Petrópolis), Säenz Peña(Argentina) and Matous Hartman(Praga) taught how to prepare chlebíčky, which was offered to all the other workshops as an aperitif, Patrik Kohout(Curitiba) dealt with the origin and tasting of Czech beer.

The Cinema Room showed Czech films, short films and documentaries: “They Didn’t Rise – The Story of a Family That Survived the Holocaust”, “I’m Bohemian, And Now”, “Viva Cesko” and “Canciones Eternas” were some of the titles presented.

There were lectures on Czech and Slovak Culture, Literature and Art.

Focusing more on Latin America, we had lectures focused on the search for Roots, Influences, Memories, Integration; and also the identification of Reminiscences of Sounds, Rhythms and Instruments in Latin American Music, in addition to the presentation of Typical Dances from the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

At the end of the afternoon we had a public performance by Check Accordion Trio, from Kutná Hora, Czech Republic, formed by musicians Markéta Laštovičková, Marie Čejnová and Michal Karban.

In the evening we had the “Bohemian Promenada Cultural Night”. It was a warm welcome to festival participants and a party with dinner, beer and a presentation of Czech and Slovak Typical Dances with a performance by six dance groups: the Conjunto de Danzas Folkloricas Czechas “Sokol”, from Argentina; Československé Kořene ensemble, from Argentina; Czechoslovak Folk Group Moravanka, from Argentina; Ballet Lipa, from Argentina, and the hosts Sonnenschein Folk Dance Group and Böhmerlandtanzgruppe, from Nova Petrópolis.

On November 5th, there was a presentation of the Historic Site with the Monument to the Brotherhood with Jablonec Nad Nissou, a visit to the Amstad Memorial, Hillebrand Family Museum, ending with the unveiling of the Plaque Allusive to the 1st Czech Festival in Brazil, 12th Czech Culture Festival and Slovak from Latin America and 15 years of the Association of Descendants of Bohemian Immigrants (ADIB/NP), with a presentation by Coral Concórdia, from Nova Petrópolis.

Festival participants were granted a Certificate of Participation. But the most important thing was to experience this true meeting of Culture and Tradition of the Czech and Slovak community present in so many distant countries, with so many stories of love, dedication and affection from a community that seeks to preserve memory, culture, tradition and the history of their country of origin, and which remains with its characteristics and identity traits preserved, even though the generations have been renewed for more than a century of separation from the homeland.

Porto Alegre, Brazil, November 20, 2023.

Wanderson de Araujo Beneš Member of the Czech-Brazilian Cultural Association in Porto Alegre(ACTB)

 Nova Petrópolis