Fernando de Noronha culture

Because Fernando de Noronha has been left uninhabited for many years, fantasies of the people surrounding it were aroused. This resulted in a number of folktales that have since then been considered to be a part of the island’s culture.

Analyses of these myths show that these stories are somehow a reflection of Fernando de Noronha’s long history and political moments. A big part of these folktales though originated during the time the island was used as prison jail – denoting the challenges and fears of the prisoners.

Below are descriptions of some of the folktales in the island presented during a carnival in 1995:

The Sueste Monster

A folktale revolving around a sea monster hiding in the waterside that amazes and terrifies fishermen in Sueste Bay. The story is said to be a product of the mythical thinking of the island’s fishermen who face dangers in the sea.

The Pico Light

The folktale of the Pico Light tells of a light from the Pico Mount’s split transformed into a beautiful woman. This transformed woman then lures the victim to get inside the mount, then the split closes.

The folk tale of the Gypsy Woman Cashew Tree

The story revolves around a prostitute gypsy woman, who, after dying had a tree of cashew planted on her tomb; this is then where she often shows herself to those who pass by to “offer her love”. This folktale got its origin when the gypsies in the country were all deported to Fernando de Noronha in 1739.

The Mystery of the Priest Water Hole

This folktale centers on a headless priest riding on a white mule near Quixaba Beach’s waters. It is believed that the story came about in 1888 when Francisco Adelino de Brito Dantas, a priest, discovered the island’s source of drinking water; making him a celebrated person.

Midnight Giant

The story of the Midnight Giant tells of a very tall fisherman (almost like a giant) that disturbs and terrifies other fishermen, making the latter lost the chance of getting fish. This tale is said to be using the fisherman as a distinct element representing the island’s fishing activity.

Alamosa Folk Tale

Probably one of Fernando de Noronha’s famous folktales, this tale revolves around a blond woman (Alamosa), who seduces imprudent people and then brings them to their death. In recent times, the Alamosa has been also known as “Woman in White”. The story takes back to the time the Dutch occupied the island in the 17th Century; the word “alamoa” is a mispronunciation of “alemã” which refers to a German woman.

Although the population of Fernando de Noronha is very limited, these folktales are enough to tell of the people’s rich imagination and culture.