Feasts and Popular Saints in Portugal

©Festa St Antonio_JM

June 13th is St. Anthony’s day, while June 24th belongs to St. John and June 29th to St. Peter - three great excuses for coming to see how we celebrate saints’ days in Portugal.

Saints’ days are full of fun and merriment. The streets are decorated with balloons and arches made out of brightly-coloured paper; people dance in the city’s small squares, and altars, dedicated to the saints, are put up as a way of asking for good fortune.

Lisbon celebrates the day of St. Anthony the matchmaker from 12 to 13 June. "Santo António, Santo Antoninho, Arranja-me lá um maridinho..." (St. Anthony, my dear St. Anthony. Find me a husband...) is one of the oldest and most popular chants in the city. In Avenida da Liberdade, there are the Marchas, a parade of the inhabitants from the city’s different traditional quarters. There are hundreds of singers and dancers and a vast audience applauds their favourite participants. It is a show not to be missed.Meanwhile if you are attracted to someone, declare yourself to them in the heat of the festivities and offer them a manjerico (a flower-pot with a sweet basil plant) and a love poem.

St. John is celebrated in Porto, from 23 to 24 June. It is a festival that is lived to the full in the streets, where anything is permitted. People carry a leek with them, which they use to hit their neighbours over the head, all in a healthy spirit of fun. There is also dancing, while the highlight of the night is the firework display over the River Douro. And when you’ve worked up an appetite choose something to eat from the traditional menu for these festivities: Caldo Verde (cabbage and potato soup), Sardinha Assada (grilled sardines), bread and red wine. Delicious!

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