Saci

Lyrics from “Saci” by Guinga and Paulo César Pinheiro (1993)

Quem vem vindo ali // Who’s on his way here
É um preto retinto e anda nu // Is a jet-black boy, and he’s naked
Boné cobrindo o pixaim // Cap covering his ‘fro
E pitando um cachimbo de bambu // And puffing on a bamboo pipe

Vem me acudir // He’s coming to see me
Acho que ouvi seu assovio // I think I heard his whistle
Fiquei até com cabelo em pé // My hairs even stood on end
Me deu arrepio, frio // I got the goosebumps, chills

Quem vem vindo ali // Who’s on his way here
Tá capengando numa perna só // Is hobbling on just one leg
Só pode ser coisa ruim // This can’t be good
Como bem dizia minha vó // Just like my grandma used to say

Diz que ele vem // They say he’s coming
Montado num roda-moinho // Riding a whirlwind
Já sei quem é, já vi seu boné // I know who it is, I’ve caught a glimpse of his cap
Surgir no caminho // On the way

Quando ele vê que eu´me benzi // When he sees that I’ve crossed myself
E que eu me arredo, cruz credo // And that I’m moving away, goodness be
Solta uma gargalhada // He’ll let out a cackle
Some na estrada // Vanish down the road
É o Saci // It’s Saci

— Commentary —

saci-pererc3aa
Saci in Tico-Tico, 24 June 1931

Dear Readers: Ever since I started a PhD program (in Brazilian history!), I’ve barely had time to post. But I’m going to keep trying! Please send requests. I wanted to do a quick post in honor of “Dia do Saci,” and it’s hard to go wrong with a song by Guinga and Paulo César Pinheiro.

Dia do Saci: Halloween keeps getting bigger in Brazil. But since 2003, October 31 has officially been “Dia do Saci,” in honor of the little one-legged rascal from Brazilian folklore. He emerged from Tupi-Guarani folklore in the south of Brazil, and was incorporated into slave fables. Saci is never without his magic red sock hat and pipe, and can’t stop getting into mischief. Legend has it that he lives in whirlwinds and can be caught with a net; upon capture, his hat must be removed to ensure his obedience. Sacis are born in bamboo shoots, where they live for seven years before emerging to wreak playful havoc for the next seventy-seven years. When they die, they turn into mushrooms.

0021406_regular_saci-perere-lendas-gauchas-regiao-das-missoes-(2)
“Halloween? I want nothing to do with it!” — “Today’s our day! Hey Hey Hey!”

Saci Day was declared in Brazil’s Federal Law 2.762, in 2003. It was part of a bill presented by Rio de Janeiro’s deputy Chico Alencar (PSOL) in an effort to celebrate Brazilian folklore rather than traditions imported from abroad – in this case, the celtic celebration of Halloween, imported from the United States.

Three years ago for this occasion I posted “Sasaci-Pererê” (Jorge Ben).

There is some debate in Brazil regarding racial stereotypes in depictions of Saci, particularly regarding those of the tremendously popular children’s author Monteiro Lobato.

Here’s Monica Salmaso’s beautiful version of the song:

Sasaci-Pererê

Lyrics from Sasaci-Pererê by Jorge Ben (1982)

_

Sasaci Sasaci Pererê
Saci, Saci Pererê
Pula, brinca e joga// Jump joke play
Que eu quero ver //That’s what I want to see

Toda turma vai querer fazer // Every gang is gonna want to make
Uma aposta com você// A bet with you
E essa aposta // And that bet
Você vai ter que ganhar // You’re gonna have to win
Não pode perder não pode perder // You can’t lose, you can’t lose

Sasaci Sasaci Pererê
Saci, Saci Pererê
Pula, brinca e joga // Jump joke play
Que eu quero ver //That’s what I want to see

Pererê, Pererê// Pererê, Pererê
Toda turma vai querer // Every gang’s gonna want
Que você aposte //You to bet
O seu cachimbo e seu chapéu mágico// Your pipe and your magic hat
Contra uma torta de jiló // For a pie of jiló,
Melancia e alho //Watermelon and garlic
Cuidado Saci, cuidado com a touca// Careful Saci, careful with the your cap
Treine bem e não se compromete// Train well, and don’t take risks
Pois esta aposta consiste// Because this bet consists
Em que você ande pelo sítio de patinete// Of you skating around the farm!

— Interpretation —

The beloved tale of Pedrinho and the Saci he captured - by Monteiro Lobato.
The beloved tale of Pedrinho and the Saci he captured – by Monteiro Lobato.

o_saciHalloween keeps getting bigger in Brazil. But since 2003, October 31 has officially been “Dia do Saci,” in honor of the little one-legged rascal from Brazilian folklore. Saci is never without his magic red sock hat and pipe; he lost his leg playing capoeira, and can’t stop getting into mischief. Legend has it that he lives in whirlwinds and can be caught with a net; upon capture, his hat must be removed to ensure his obedience! Sacis are rumored to be born in bamboo shoots, where they live for seven years before emerging to wreak playful havoc for the next seventy-seven years. When they die, they turn into mushrooms.

In 1982, Jorge Ben wrote and recorded the song “Sasaci Pererê” for the TV special Pirlimpimpim, named after “pirlimpim powder,” a kind of fairy dust that Monteiro Lobato included in his stories. Monteiro Lobato was perhaps Brazil’s most beloved children’s writer, and in 1982 Brazil celebrated his centenary. One of Monteiro Lobato’s most treasured stories is about a little boy, Pedrinho, who managed to capture a Saci.

Saci Day was declared in Brazil’s Federal Law 2.762, in 2003, part of a bill presented by Rio de Janeiro’s deputy Chico Alencar (PSOL) in an effort to celebrate Brazilian folklore rather than traditions imported from abroad – in this case, the celtic celebration of Halloween, imported from the United States.