BRIDES, LADIES AND PEASANTS FROM MINHO PROVINCE
BRIDES, LADIES AND PEASANTS FROM MINHO PROVINCE (Viana do Castelo)
Roses Festival (Vila Franca), Our Lady of Amparo (Cardielos), St. Anthony (Afife), St. Peter and St. Paul (Serreleis), St. James (S. Tiago, Vila Nova de Anha), St. Michael, St. Joseph and Our Lady of Sorrows (Perre), Our Lady Christina (Meadela), St. Mary of the Snows (Barroselas), St. Martha (Portuzelo), Our Lady of Grace (Carreço), Our Lady of Agony (Viana), St. Mamede (Areosa), St. John of Arga (Caminha), Our Lady of Guadalupe (Castelo do Neiva), Our Lady of Sorrows (New Fairs, Ponte de Lima)... From May to September, in the great festivals of Minho, the litters and processions shine, the brass bands and folk groups, the big-heads and giant puppets, the drums, the concertinas and the competitive singers, but the real queens of the holidays are the Stewards: Brides, Ladies and Peasants.
«Oh my someday love,
to Viana shall we go...»
Early in the dawn come the first girls with their red suits (still there are yellow, green and blue scarves), white crocheted socks and slippers, soca shoes or black clogs or with cotton bouquets in various colors, vests with front beads, with cords and colorful embroidery on the back, waist pockets between the skirt and flowery apron, linen shirts with cross stitching on the sleeves and shoulders, earrings Queen like, between six to nine gold thread with crucifixes and medallions and a braids scarf in the head and another by the shoulders: they are the
Sitting on stone benches we find several brides dressed in black or dark blue, with a white tulle veil of embroidered on the head, with votive candles, “palmitos” or branches of litter on hand, and further ahead other single girls, with hearty golden pieces on the chest and colorful scarves with flowers or cornucopias, skirts at the ankle and decorated aprons with beads and glass beads (with wild motives or crowns flanking the shield of Portugal or of different parishes), and all bring by the hand the famous love scarves...
Later, many other girls with their Sunday gaudy party suits, half ladies with a folded shawl by the arm, beautiful silk or white/black lace umbrellas and superb family old gold pieces and, still, the widows with their pity dark suits. In little time, hundreds of girls and ladies with flashy costumes “Vianesa” (Viana do Castelo) style gather, and soon roam the city streets to introduce themselves to the people and to pay the usual greetings to the authorities.
The Brass Band Bingre Canelense Society ends with the Amália anthem: «Oh my someday love...»
The stewardship parade is a generous show to observe, only comparable to the best paintings of the Creation.
«So pretty is the gold
sitting in the neck of a maiden...»
Heart of Viana
TRADITIONAL JEWELRY MUSEUM
Viana do Castelo
«Antoninho ask your mother
for a pocket gold watch,
I’ll also ask mine
for a gold neck cord.»
Bambolina or pelican earrings, king or queen earrings (of “chapola”, "parolos" or "mourning"), carrion or loaves rings, noble flowery lacquers studded with diamonds, scapulars and miraculous medals of saints (Our Lady of Conception and Our Lady of Grace), hearts of Viana (baroque, swollen, filigree, flaming or double), thin strands and braids, beaded necklaces with Christs or butterflies, baroque crosses, made of Malta or metal cylinders, shackles and several medallions, libras, “rodilhão” stars, custody...
In the Minho tradition, gold is a symbol of beauty, recognition and protection. It was the way of the ancients to put gold in the water tub of the first bath of the newborns, wishing them a prosperous life. In married ladies, gold represents good governance of the house, and in the unmarried girls it assures their purity of the flesh, terminating all doubts or threats to their good name. In any case, any gold placed below the navel is tacky.
BRIDES AND VOTIVE CANDLES
«The Girls of Viana
are as tough as wire,
there is no axe able to cut them
nor young lad that deceives them...»
(Vira das Palmas, popular folk song)
Brides are “fameless” ladies, carrying their votive candles burning since dawn and so must they be kept to the altar, in the solemn Mass in the Church of Our Lady of Agony. The judgment of the people states that if any candle goes out, it reveals the unchastely girls and therefore, that are not worthy of the feast honors. In any case, with the same diligence they will keep their husband and the wedding attire, which according to tradition must serve them as a shroud.
«Here is my heart
And the key to open it,
I have no more to give you
Nor do you have more to ask of me.»
Brides, ladies and lady peasants will bear hearts of gold. Symbols of the city of Viana, the hearts are part of the iconography of their traditional embroidery, and even the hidden pockets between the skirt and the apron (on the right side in the lady peasants and on the left in the brides case) are butterfly-shaped (inverted hearts) in which are often embroidered the words "Viana" and "Amor" (Love): «So rare is not reading in them the words Viana and Amor», as recorded the famous ethnographer Amadeu Costa.