THE BOYS' FESTIVAL
The Boys' Festival
«In the Carnival some role plays are made that give us a great laugh...»
THE BOYS' FESTIVAL
Constantim, Miranda do Douro
Constantim, Miranda do Douro (December 2006)
People celebrate a night of entertainment in honour of St. John´s Evangelist, the village patron from December 27th to 28th.
The boys, eager for entertainment, mark the day around a huge bonfire, which still emits smoke in the village´s
square. So, just after dawn, they dress the "Carocho" (devil) with a leather mask, a bunge of lines, in their necks and a huge wooden fork for gathering the smoked ham or to make the village girls fall. Old mouth-organ players, drum and
fraita (shepherd flute made from wood) players and dancers with their hats decorated with roses gathered around.
Lusting for the extension of the party, they go around all the houses, one by
one: they eat and drink, dance on request and throw the lust of the "Carocho" on the virgin daughters of the house. And since in the agony of the old year all is forgiven, they exchange gifts and compliments.
The false female of the plentiful group (the "Old Aunt", bearing a cheetah pattern on her blouse and a rosary of roasted chestnuts by her neck) comes to bid farewell from the house lady, while the family chief is entitled to launch a firecracker, in order to bring good luck for the coming year.
At half past one there is mass. The profane gives way to the sacred, but the pipe sounds like an
Lhaço, a holy chant, within the divine holy place. The stick dancers do
their thing, while the offertory occurs. After the procession has been around
the church, the ritual of mixing the sacred and the profane is fulfilled in the
spot, in front of the cruise, with the "Carocho" and the "Old Aunt" rehearsing mating gestures.
Everything is merely a scene on the Winter Carnival (a rite of the solstice) in Constantim, on the lands of Miranda. And as the saying goes,
«ne Antruido fázen uas macadas que a la giente dá-le ua risa mui grande» (in the carnival some role plays are made that give us a great laugh).
In Constantim, a small village near Miranda, women are held. Júlia is an expert in cooking beans stews and Felisbina Rosa in making teas. Fábia Gonçalves is 78 years old. She was already been on Television: her speciality is baking delicious cakes. After 6 months of marriage she was widowed and was also pregnant. Her husband died launching a rocket party. At
"S. João Evangelista" festivities she accepts and gets lupins
and olives. She pays the "Pauliteiros" to dance at her door, but she doesn't want the rocket to be launched as tradition says. She raised her son alone. Many men wanted to marry her, but she never wanted anyone else. She says:
«I'm the most honest widow in my village». Almost on entirely life dressed in black!
Constantim, MIRANDA DO DOURO
FEAST OF "CARETOS"
Podence, Macedo de Cavaleiros
Carnival, March 2011. In Podence, a few miles from Macedo de Cavaleiros,
the Roman Saturnalia is fulfilled — the
celebrations in honor of Saturn, god of sowing.
Devils pull their latest evil before Lent, with
leather or tin masks, wearing fringed bedspreads
of wool or linen, with a string of bells around
their waist and bells bandoliers, the "Caretos"
run through the village in odd forays, chasing
the single girls. The party is now turned into a
tourist product, open to pipers and "gigantones", to the food and drink stalls and donkey rides.
The lust of rattles launched against the hips of the most unprepared women still remains, however, in the rural atmosphere and the
"Facanitos" — prepubescent youth who wear the same clothes promise to continue perpetuate the tradition.
OLD PEOPLE FEAST
Teenagers carry large pork bladders tied on the
end of sticks, to provoke their elders. From the
challenge result lengthy chases that end in
heated disputes between new and old, a rite of
passage to adulthood. On his tour of the
village, the 'Soldier' both offers and protects
"Sécia" (the woman who brings a doll in her arms), and to the taunts of the people — «Mary, you’re an easy lay, you tart!» — he responds with strong strokes of his leather belt, to defend his honour.
'The Elderly' couple who add up to the four figures of the parade is expected to impose respect. With their staffs they clean up the streets of bladders, reminiscence from the violence of the clashes. The ritual, repeated every year on Christmas Day, ends with the cast of the received gifts at the altar of Our Lady.
HOLY CHILD'S FEAST
It's seven thirty in the morning. "Farandulo"
(the devil) is on the loose and starts his first
round through the village, looking for single
girls. He looks like a black king, with a black
and white crown on his head, a gray coat dressed
inside out, a dark and long skirt, a string of
empty cotton reels around his neck and on his
hand, a forked stick that enables him to pick up
sausages in houses where he can penetrate. "Sécia"
is in a wedding dress, white a lace mantle over
her head and in her hands, a bouquet of candy
with a tangerine on top. In the several attempts
until the time of mass, it is the "Moço" (youngster) that defends her from the lust of
"Farandulo"... "The Butler" and the "Drummers" (bagpipe, drum and box) comprise the group of revellers.
MIRANDA YÊ LA MIE TIÊRRA
Miranda yê la mie tiêrra:
people of Miranda do Douro
«Knit working and stocking stitch
In the summer afternoons, calm,
And who knows if sometimes
Talking about other people’s lives…
Costantin, another village
just some feet away
It has a summit and a saint
With a market and a pilgrimage…»
JOSÉ FRANCISCO FERNANDES
«Miranda Yê La Mie Tiêrra» (1998)