Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Traditional Portuguese Festivals

First Day Cover with stamps
The “Festa da Senhora da Agonia de Viana do Castelo” (Feast of Our Lady of Agony, Viana do Castelo), held in August, is a prominent hallmark in the world of Portuguese pilgrimage. The feast is famous for the luxury of the costumes, the gold worn by the major-domos and for the richness of the ethnographic procession, and includes religious processions, parades, the “gigantones e cabeçudos” (giants and big-headed puppets) variety show, as well as groups of bass drummers, pipers and “Zés- Pereiras”, a huge folk festivity and the famous Minho firework displays. The main trait is the devotion of the seamen, who reciprocate the grace received during storms and shipwrecks. The main float is therefore traditionally transported by fishermen; since 1968, a river procession started being held at the Lima River, featuring the statue of this saint.

The “Festa de Santo Estevão” (Feast of Saint Estevão) in Ousilhão is part of the Cycle of the Twelve Days of Northeast Trás-os-Montes, celebrated around the time of the Winter solstice. Besides the important role of the “Caretos”1, who are offending characters who ritually steal the smoker during the rounds, the major-domos of these festivities include a king, vassals and young men. The food ritual, in this case, involves a group meal – the table of St. Estevão –, and the central role of circulating and distributing the food offerings.

The “Festa de São Mateus” (Feast of Saint Mateus) being an icon of the city of Viseu, is said to have been established as a free fair since 1392. History also claims that it was a gift from king João I, Master of Avis, on account of Viseu being the only Portuguese city to have been on his side during the 1383-1385 crisis. From the 16th century onwards, it became known as Feira de São Mateus (São Mateus Fair), its current name, and with its more than 620 years of existence, is considered one of the oldest fairs in the country and maybe even in the Iberian Peninsula. Within an area of about 18,000 m2, hundreds of merchants and vendors, mainly of local gastronomy and handicrafts, join a varied programme of musical and sports shows, attracting thousands of visitors throughout the 40 days of the event, from mid-August to mid-September.

The pilgrimage of “Senhora do Almortão” (Our Lady of Almortão), in the municipality of Idanha-a-Nova, takes place fifteen days after Easter and is the most important pilgrimage in the region. Legend has it that

the statue of Our Lady appeared in a myrtle bush. When people tried to take it to Monsanto, it would disappear and reappear at the initial location, where the shrine was built so that the statue would not disappear again. The celebration includes religious and profane aspects, defined by the characteristic singing for good tidings to Our Lady of Almortão, accompanied by tambourines.

The “Festas do Povo de Campo Maior” (Festivities of the people of Campo Maior) started in 1909 as part of the cult of St. John the Baptist, patron saint of the village since the 16th century. Without a fixed periodicity, these festivities take place “at the people’s wish” – the last ones having been held in 2004 and 2011. The street decorations in the historic centre, with flowers and other paper pointers, are a prodigy of the ephemeral art and are a result of all of the residents’ initiative. The work starts some six months in advance and each street chooses a theme, keeping it a secret to be revealed publicly on the “enramação” night (26th to 27th September), when the decorations are put up on the streets. The 27th is the official opening of the festivities.

The feast in honour of “Nossa Senhora de Gadalupe” (Our Lady of Guadalupe), in the municipality of Serpa, is associated with the Easter celebrations. Being a saint worshipped by the numerous graces she grants, as seen in the “former vows” offered to her and reports on her intercession, particularly on the scourge of the 1868 drought, the festivities in her honour include religious and profane expressions. The former includes the procession on Easter Sunday, during which the statue is taken down from its shrine in São Gens and taken to Salvador church. The ethnographic procession then takes place, which includes extras on foot and allegoric floats, recreating the history and traditions of the municipality. On Monday morning, the solemn procession in honour of the patron saint takes place and in the afternoon the procession takes to the city streets, which are carpeted with rosemary. This set of ceremonial routes ends with a procession on Tuesday, in which the statue is brought back to its shrine in Altinho. The meals in the countryside, which include lamb stew, are just as important for their association with the celebration of the rejuvenation naturally brought by the spring cycle.

Technical Details
Date of Issue: 30 April 2013
Values: stamps of 0,03€, 0,04€, 0,36€, 0,50€, 0,70€, 0,80€, 1,00€ and 1,70€.
Acknowledgments: Clara Saraiva e Benjamim Enes Pereira
Designer: Atelier Whitestudio
Printer: INCM
Process: Offset
Size: 30,6 x 27,7mm
Perforation: 11 3/4 x 11 3/4
Paper: FSC 110 g./m2
Sheet: with 100 stamps

No comments:

Post a Comment