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Monday, January 14, 2008

Feasts - Faial Traditions - Azores

Although various celebrations, mostly religious, take place in Faial throughout the year, it is in the summer time that the most important festive events occur. These are attended by people from all around Faial and not only by those from that particular village, as it happens with the Holy Ghost feasts that happen from Whitsuntide to August. The religious celebrations or functions in devotion to the third person of the Blessed Trinity that take place in the daytime, include a Mass, a procession and a large meal of Holy Ghost soup, roast meat, massa sovada (beaten dough) and arroz doce (sweet rice). At night near the Império, (Holy Ghost chapel), the ladies meet for some conversation, the men drink a beer together, the young ones group in pairs and dance to the rhythm of the rock or pimba music, and the even younger ones spend their parents’ money in the church fete, all this under the coloured lights and flags and the noise of the fire works.

Saint John of Caldeira is the patron saint of Faial and so his memory is marked with a holiday on June 24th and celebrated with a grand feast the night before in Jaime Melo Square, in Flamengos. It is here that, in front of St John Chapel, once surrounded by a dense forest, that a stage is mounted to accommodate the regional pop group that provides the music for the dance. There are food stalls and a church fete between the roadside trees and that area covered with strings of coloured lights, fills up with people from around the island anxious to have fun. A large fire is made and from time to time the bravest ones try to jump over it. At the same time several other fires spread around the fields of the Flamengos Valley.

On the following day, the year's longest, families and friends get together in picnics and lunches near this square or close to the border of Caldeira, even if it is densely foggy, as it often happens.
During the rest of the year there are festivities of the patron saints of each parish, like for example the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, in Castelo Branco on August 15, or the feast of Our Lady of Hope in Norte Pequeno on August 16, and so on, the St. Anthony College feast, the scouts and high school students' parties, and the weekly summer concerts organized by Horta's Municipal Council in Infante Square in Horta.

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