Today, the descendants of pomeranian immigrants make a total of more than 300,000 people in Brazil. Since the pommerer have been expelled from their homelands along the southern baltic coast at the end of WWII by the soviets, and the refugees were assimilated to the population of the countries where they went to (mainly West Germany, also USA and Australia), the old pomeranian communities in Brazil can be considered the major strongholds of this unique european culture in the world, and, probably, they are the only places where the vorpommersch (west-pomeranian language) is still spoken.
The pomeranians started migrating to Brazil in XIX century. Brazilian government at the time encouraged german immigration, as means to populate inhabited lands in the countryside and also fill the country with more civilised people (yes, brazilian emperor Pedro II regarded germans as highly civilised and hard workers, I don't know whether this is in wikipedia). Among the germans, came the pomeranians. They settled mainly in the states of Santa Catarina and Espírito Santo, and also in Rio Grande do Sul.
The state of Santa Catarina is known as "the most german state of Brazil", but many of the "germans" are, actually, pomeranians. About 200,000 pomeranian descendants live there. There's one city which is a major community of pomeranians in this state: Pomerode.
The colony was created in 1861, located between the german colonies of Blumenau and Joinville, to foster the trade between these two. The farmers raised rice, potato, tobacco, cassava, bean and livestock. Later on, in the XX century, small factories established in the region, remarkably the porcelain factories. In 1959, the colony was raised to the category of municipality.
About 80% percent of Pomerode's inhabitants are ethnic pomeranians (according to wikipedia), and most of the pomeroders are bilingual: they speak pommersch and portuguese.
Total population is 26,788 (2009).
Demographics (as of year 2000):
Race/Skin color .. Percentage ....... Number
Whites ...................97.56%........ 21,588
Pardos (brown)..........1.73%........ 382
Blacks .................... 0.24%........ 53
Amerindians .............. 0.0% ........ 0
Yellow (Asian) ......... 0.07% ........ 16
The pomeranian culture suffered from the overwhelming presence of germans in the colonies around Pomerode, and much more during the government of ex-president Getúlio Vargas (in the early 1940's), when the policy of nationalization forbade people of speaking in pomeranian (and any language other than portuguese) and also forbade "foreign" cultural manifestations and even architecture. But the traditional isolationism of the pomeroders allowed them to keep their culture alive, and this preservation has been encouraged since the late XX century, when the tourist industry began to grow.
The city has many cultural events, and the main one is the "Festa Pomerana" (Pomeranian Fest), which takes place every January, since 1984.
A few pictures:
The Fischerstechen contest:
Two teams fight each other and wins the one who makes the opponent fall from the boat.
The Schneidmüller und Holzhacke contest:
Wins the team that saws faster.
The 2010 queen of the festival (wow):
Until the mid XIX century, only the coastline of the state of Espírito Santo had been occupied. In 1847, 39 german families from Hunsrück came to Brazil, with the expectancy of settling in the south. However, the emperor Pedro II, recognizing the need to develop the central massif of Espírito Santo (still inhabited only by indians botocudos), sent the 163 german colonists to this mountainous area with mild climate, to found the colony of Santa Isabel.
In 1858, the former Prussian officer Adalberto Jahn took over administration of the colony of Santa Isabel and the most urgent economic problems began to be solved. Moreover, the social reorganization around the church and the establishment of schools has brought some social stability. Soon came other immigrants attracted by the promise of land and labor.
In mid-1860's, the colony of Santa Isabel was already formed by 628 people, immigrants from the same region of the pioneers, Bavarians and Prussians among others. The settlers have gathered 10,000 kilos of coffee and temporary lodging houses were replaced by more resistant ones. Life began to improve. With prosperity, the initial trend was reversed and the birth rate began to overcome mortality, so that in 1912 the annual rate of natural increase among the settlers was 4% and mortality minimal. Families with 12-20 children were common.
The colony of Santa Isabel was still isolated in the mountainous region of Espírito Santo, when a new wave of immigration began what would later become a complex of European colonies, very unusual and relatively unknown outside the state.
Pedro II, encouraged by the success of the first enterprise, allowed the settlement of new immigrant groups. New imperial colonies emerged, such as Santa Leopoldina in 1857, where immigrants came mainly from Prussia, Saxony, Hesse, Baden and Bavaria, and other regions of Germany.
Arrival of the pomeranians
The year 1859 ushered in a ethnic restructuring decisive for the colonies, with the arrival in large numbers of settlers from Pomerania, then a Prussian province which kept their particular cultural identity in the face of several attempts of domination by Danes, Swedes and Germans. The Pomerania comprised a narrow strip between the Baltic and Poland, where the large property dominated. The tradition there was that only one of the sons inherited the paternal property, the others being left the option of working in foreign lands or to emigrate.
Whilst in other Brazilian states the Pomeranians were a minority among German settlers in Espírito Santo it was the reverse. From 1859 onwards the Pomeranians, confessional Lutherans, arrived by thousands and became an absolute majority among the German settlers. Settled between the mountains and forests, far from main trading centers, the Pomeranians were subjected to an isolation that contributed to the preservation of their unique culture.
Concentrated mainly in Santa Maria de Jetibá and its surroundings, Pancas, Orange Earth, Vila Pavao, Santa Leopoldina and Dominic Martins, there is an estimated population of 120,000 Pomeranians in Espirito Santo.
"Pomerod" - the dominant language
Ignored by the State, without access to the teaching of Portuguese, rarely communicating with people outside of the colony and relying almost exclusively on the initiative of the churches to educate their children, the colonists had no alternative but to continue to speak their dialects. If at first the various German groups each one speaking their particular dialect, over time, "Pomerod", the pomeranian common dialect, eventually prevailed.
Professor Frederico Herdmann Seide, a scholar of German immigration in Espírito Santo, explains that there was a natural division, Jucu River between the colony of the pomeranians and that of the hunsrückers. According to the report of the elders and the record of the Lutheran churches, it is clear that the first generation of brazilian-germans already disrespected that dividing line.
The hunsrückers had more children (males), while there were more women among the young pomeranians. In a celebration of the church, the boys on the right side of the river met pomeranian maids on the other side, in their field, and the result was the expected. Therefore, many boys and girls of the colony of hunsrückers began to speak the dialect of their pomeranian mothers.
"Ik bin pommer" - preservation of traditions
The foreign trend of fantasizing the pomeranian folklore is not based on the local reality but on an anachronistic expectation of those who are fascinated or surprised by this ethnic group, still relatively homogeneous, that since Europe has resisted assimilation.
The isolation in which the pomeranians lived, either willingly or by force of circumstances, not only contributed to the survival of traditions and dialect. The lack of contact also contributed to the rise of speculation about the pomeranians, generating sometimes disinformation harmful to the community.
The farming work in deforested areas with little shade, the use of pesticides and exposure to intense sunlight daily caused a sort of skin cancer among the descendants, the "green cancer", which caused harm and death among pomeranians, a fact that became known even internationally. An initiative of the Lutheran Church and the Federal University of Espirito Santo created 15 years ago a program of treatment and prevention that helped rescue the local self-esteem, shaken by the disease and its impact on media.
Today, descendants of the settlers are present in all areas of intellectual and political-administrative activities in the region. The new generation is increasingly conscious of the need for maintenance and enhancement of their own identity, living and present, thus transforming.
Apart from the famous and numerous parties hosted by the cities, with different topics, usually related to agriculture, there is a radio and a newspaper and it has been released a CD of pomeranian rock and another of concertina. Groups of folk music and dance were pioneers in this process of revitalization. Among the noteworthy bands are the Pomeranos de Melgaço, the Isarbohn of Laranja da Terra, the duo of parodists Rodolfo and Fredolin of Vila Valério, besides the large number of concertina players, the main pomeranian instrument.
The anthropologist and linguist Ismael Tressmann has released a dictionary with about 15,000 pomeranian words and also historical, geographical and etymological information. There is also a project to teach the "Pomerode" in local schools, the PROEPO ("PROjeto de Educaçăo POmerana" - Project for Pomeranian Education). Moreover, one of the most important rituals among pomeranians, marriage, returns to be celebrated by young people in the traditional manner.
Cities of pomeranian colonization in Espírito Santo
The first german families, coming from Pomerania, began to arrive in the region at the late XIX century. The first arrivers, according to historical accounts, was the family Schultz, that soon managed to establish the first lutheran community in the region.
Influenced by german families, till present days Itaguaçu keeps pomeranian cultural traditions, in the spoken language, dances and culinary. Population is about 15,000.
Pomeranians began to arrive in Itarana in the late XIX century. Today still many people speak pomeranian and keep pomeranian traditions. Population is 12,000.
Laranja da Terra
Between 1908-1910, three german brothers, Wilhelm, Ernst and Nikolaus Seibel, started the colonisation of Laranja da Terra. Thence, other german and pomeranian immigrants began to arrive and, by 1912, a community comprising 40 families had established in the region.
Till this day, the inhabitants keep the german and pomeranian culture, in the festivals, weddings, language, lutheran confession and culinary. Population is 11,000.
The pomeranians arrived in Pancas between 1925-1930, coming from other colonies, mainly from Santa Leopoldina. Population is 20,000.
German immigrants began to arrive in Santa Leopoldina in 1857, and until 1879, when influx ceased, 7,000 of them settled in the region, coming from Saxony, Hesse, Baden, Bavaria and Prussia, many of them pomeranians. By 1912, the population was 18,000, but later on many inhabitants went to settle in other colonies. Population today is about 13,500.
Santa Maria de Jetibá
Known as the most pomeranian city in Espírito Santo, Santa Maria de Jetibá still keeps the pomeranian traditions. The city received the first colonists in 1857, and as soon as they arrived they separated themselves. On one side of Jucu River settled the pomeranians, on the other the hunsrückers.
With a population of 33,000 people, the city has as its economical basis the agricultural activities, being one of the major suppliers of farm produce to the market of Vitória (capital of Espírito Santo). The city is also the second major producer of eggs in Brazil.
Pomeranian descendants began to arrive in 1940, coming from other colonies. Today pomeranian descendants make 65% of the total population, and 40% of them speak pomeranian fluently. Population is about 9,000.
Next year, the first Pomeranian Museum in the north of the state is scheduled to be opened in Vila Pavăo.
Rio Grande do Sul
There are a few pomeranian settlements in the state, mainly in the cities of Roque Gonzales and Arroio do Padre.
The city was colonized mainly by teuto-brazilians coming from the old german colonies in the east of the state, in the early 1900's. Till present day the pommersch and the Riograndenser Hunsrückisch are spoken in the city, along with talian, a venetian dialect spoken only in Rio Grande do Sul and few parts of the state of Santa Catarina. Population is about 7,400.
Arroio do Padre
Almost all inhabitants are pomeranian descendants, and in most houses the pomeranian is still spoken. Most inhabitants are lutherans, in spite of the name of the city (padre = catholic priest). Population is about 2,900.
Videos about pomeranians
There's plenty of videos about brazilian pomeranians in youtube. I'll post a few here, providing some description or translation:
"In May (2007) it was started the process of officialization of pomeranian language in five cities of Espírito Santo: Santa Maria de Jetibá, Laranja da Terra, Vila Pavăo, Pancas and Domingos Martins. The project of teaching pomeranian in the schools is on the run."
Child counts 0-10 in pomeranian:
0 - Nul
1 - Ain
2 - Twai
3 - Drai
4 - Fair
5 - Fijw
6 - Söss
7 - Soiwen
8 - Acht
9 - Neegen
10 - Teigen
"Last year (2006) the Encyclopedic Pomeranian-Portuguese Dictionary by Ismael Tressmann was released, outcoming from a 10-years long research. The dictionary has 16,000 entries, in alphabetical order, besides other characteristics and curiosities of the pomeranian language."
2:49 (Ismael speaks)
"The Pomeranian is spoken in Brazil, USA and Australia. In Brazil, it's spoken in (the states of) Espírito Santo, Rondônia, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul."
"Many people regard pomeranian as dialect or derivation of (official) German, which is wrong."
"Look, the Pomeranian is a language of its own. Comparing Pomeranian to Dutch, Low German, English and Scots, you'll find out there are many similarities among these ones, but there's great distance between Pomeranian and (official) German (Hochdeutsch). Pomeranian doesn't descend from (official) German, it descends from Old Saxon. Pomeranian is the result of the confluence of three main languages in the region of Baltic Sea: Saxon, Westphalian and languages of colonists from Rhineland. Blending these three languages the Pomeranian was made up."
Child speaking in pomeranian
Foreigners in their own country
Video showing the difficulties of an elderly woman that cannot speak portuguese to get her civil rights. Also many scenes from urban and rural areas of Domingos Martins, and photos of the early immigrants, who remained isolated for 80 years in the region.
Old photos of the early immigrants.
Culture and Traditions
Documentary film about pomeranian wedding.
Espírito Santo celebrating 150 years from the arrival of the pomeranian colonists
The Pomeranian Fest in Pomerode-SC
Election of the royalty of Pomeranian Fest 2010
Pomeranian Fest in Santa Maria de Jetibá-ES
The forum member Jarl kindly asked and encouraged me to open this thread. I hope I have written the text at least minimally well (lol).