HISTORIES OF THE SACRED & PROFANE
Histories of the sacred & profane
PARTY IN THE VILLAGE!
They may forbid the people from taking the TGV, from setting foot on the golf courses, from hearing Sokolov at the Casa da Música (Hall of Music, at Oporto) or from taking a ride on a luxury voyage on the Douro river; but nobody can ban the people from going to mass, from praying the Our Lady of Aparecida, or from seeing the band marching, in front of the church’s door. Despite the wax heads, legs and bowels offered to the saint, the main reason for the people’s trip here, is to see seventy men carrying a 20 meters litter, the worlds largest — they say — worthy to figure in the Guinness book of records! All in all, no matter what they think or what they say, even with no money, the people is still entitled to its own ridiculous...
OUR LADY OF APARECIDA Torno - Lousada, August 2009.
HOLY SPIRIT: THE FESTIVAL OF TRAYS
The Trays are the symbol and main decorative feature of the Festival of Trays. It should be the same height as the girl who carries it. It is decorated with paper flowers, greenery and ears of wheat. It also made up with 30 bread rools of a special size, each wighing 400 grams, threaded onto 5 or 6 canes. The later emerge from a wicker basket, wich is wrapped in a white embroidered cloth, and on top it is finished off with Cross of Christ or a Dove of the Holy Spirit, the girl’s outfit consists of a long, white dress with a colored ribbon across the front; the boy’s one is a simple, white shirt with sleeves rolled up, dark trousers, black beret on the shoulder and a tie the same color as the girl’s ribbon. On the Monday after the Procession, tradition and solidarity demand that meat, bread and wine that were blessed the previous day – the “Pêza” – should be distributed to the needy.
BRIDES, LADIES AND PEASANTS FROM MINHO PROVINCE
Rose 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.
BRIDES, LADIES AND PEASANTS FROM MINHO PROVINCE
ST. JOHN BAPTISTE
THE BATTLE BETWEEN CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS (Bugios e Mourisqueiros)
In Sobrado, Valongo (near Oporto), is famous the battle between Christians and Muslims, named "Bugiada", on June 24th.
There are hundreds of Christians (Bugios): men, women and children dressed in colourful clothes and commanded by the "Velho" (the Oldman). The Muslims (Mourisqueiros) are dozens single boys commanded by the "Reimoeiro" (the captain of the military group). Each group gathers together at their leaders' house and they play the Presentation Dance (Dança da Apresentação). At the end of the morning, the Muslims (Mourisqueiros) invade the church and carry away the image of St. John, joining the procession. In the evening, each group occupies a definite position at the opposite tops of the castles. The music band plays St. John’s March. The battle is inevitable, and the Muslims conquer the Christian' castle and arrest the Oldman. So, a miracle happens: suddenly, out of nowhere, comes a dragon (Serpe) to help the Christians against the Muslims and free the Oldman.
The festivities finishes with both groups dancing separately the Dance of the Saint.
The most important Holy Week celebrations in Portugal are held in Braga, the city of archbishops.
Of the eight commemorative days, since the removal of the Lord of the Steps until the Mass before Easter and Easter’s visitation, the rituals of Good Friday stand out: the worship of the Lord's death and Burial Procession.
On the afternoon, the passion and death of Christ is celebrated, followed by the dramatic Theophoric Procession, carrying the coffin in the dark aisles of the cathedral. The dead Lord is deposed and revered. At night, the Burial Procession. It is decorated with only three litters: the dead Lord coffin, the Lady of Sorrows and the Holy Cross, accompanied by the Brotherhood of Mercy and Holy Cross and the civil and military authorities. The Friars advance with their heads covered and the “farricocos” (which can either be penitent, barefoot and dressed in black, or cacique hooded inquisitors) lead with heaps of burning fire pits and rattles.
The noise of the flags irons and banners dragging on the floor is deafening.
The foot-washing ceremony, the Mass of the Lord's Supper and the processions of the “Burrinha” (little donkey) and “Ecce Homo” (between Holy Wednesday and Holy Thursday) complete the religious framework of great dramatic intensity.
Finally, on Easter Sunday they celebrate the Lord's resurrection and the cross is carried from house to house, to be kissed by Christian families.
"HOLY WEEK — LORD'S DEATH AND BURIAL PROCESSION, Braga.
17 APRIL 2011 1'04''
OUR LADY OF THE MOUNTAIN
In Cercedo, a few kilometers away from Alturas do Barroso, every year the people gather around a small chapel in the middle of the mountain, promising great devotion in honour of Our Lady of the Mountain, who in all regions is famous for answering to the most inner prays. When the divine obligations are over, the lunch is served for the groups of people spread under the trees, in between stones.
In the improvised market one can sell clothes, fruit and other stuff, and there is also little restaurants for the most resistant. The festival continues with dancing and singing until the sunset.
OUR LADY OF THE MOUNTAIN, Cerdedo, Boticas, Chaves.
8 SEPTEMBER 2012 1'00''
BARROSO: MONEY OF THE WIND...
OUR LADY OF PENA
Mouçós, Vila Real
On the worship day to Our Lady of Pena, in Mouçós, Vila Real, it´s the same as in all pilgrimages: the saints and the little shepherds, the music bands, the high mass, the saint´s pictures for a coin, the food and drink little shops, the stages for the rock bands… In the vast area of the pine forest, 25 thousand of people gather around to watch the biggest wooden framework to carry the saint´s statue, catapulted to the sky by a huge water crane. The scene seems to supersede the Our Lady of Aparecida´s case, from Lousada, in the name of a record in the Guinness world book of records.
ST. BARTOLOMEU DO MAR
In Esposende, on August 24th, people celebrate the Saint Bartolomeu do Mar, a big pilgrimage which brings many devoted people to the beach for the holly bath.
The tradition says that one should walk under the Saint´s Statue, and then, with a black chicken in his lap, takes 3, 5 or 7 (always an uneven number) walks around the church.
Finally, parents and hired swimmers take the children up and plunge them, the same number of times, into the waters of the sea so that they can escape from some diseases like stuttering and epilepsy.
3'50' AUGUST 2008
ST. GONÇALO: JUNE'S FESTIVAL
In Amarante the June´s festival are dedicated to St. Gonçalo. Disputed monk between Benedictines and Dominicans, is worshiped by the people and is known as the old ladies matchmaker, wonder-worker and merry fellow...
ST. GONÇALO HAS GOT A THOUSAND LIVES
THE BOYS' FESTIVAL
Constantim, Miranda do Douro
As a proof of this we have the Boys’ Festival, in Constantim (Miranda do Douro). In here, after many days of the typical entertainment of the winter Carnival, and at the end of a morning, in which they have been persecuting the virgin daughters of the village, the bagpipe sounds divinely inside the holly place and it brightens the mass. And at the end of the procession, right there, in front of the church, the pauliteiros dance and the disguised couple rehearse without chastity the traditional mating gestures…
THE BOYS' FESTIVAL
All these pilgrimages together, year after year, join thousands of people, and in these festivals there are many wonderful sacred and profane rituals which are mixed together and complete themselves in an imaginary expression of faith and tradition.