Celebrating People’s Saints: SANTOS POPULARES FESTAS and the MARCHAS POPULARES in the Alentejo – All Events in Summer 2019!
The Festas Santos Populares, the Fests of the People’s Saints, are the highlight of the year in Portugal, also the Alentejo: The Saints Santo António, São Pedro and São João are celebrated everywhere in June with bailes, concerts, festivals, religious processions, and the very unique Marchas Populares – the People’s Marches.
The main fests in Portugal ones are the Festas de Lisboa, on 12th and 13th of June (Santo António), and in Porto on the 23rd and 24th of June (São João).
São João is celebrated very big on 29 June in the Alentejo in Évora (World Heritage). Évora has held the Feira de São João (Feast of St. John) since the 16th century. It is one of the largest fests in southern Portugal and a municipal holiday.
In all these festivals, there is also the tradition of jumping the bonfire and offering your girlfriend or boyfriend pots of aromatic basil, containing four-line verses often speaking of love, especially because these feasts are linked to the summer solstice and ancient fertility rites.
The Marchas Populares
The Marchas Populares are the highest points of the celebrations of the Santos Populares in June. The Desfile das Marchas Populares, a colourful parade in which the groups of each town and village of their region represent their costumes, dances and songs, competing for the best presentation.
Like all of their traditions, the Alejanos and Alentejanas take their Marchas Populares very serious. The preparations of the costumes and dances take some time and are carried out with lots of regional pride and love for details. The songs often talk about the history of their village, about old traditions, and people born there. The winning groups receive the glory of the year 🙂
The Marchas Populares are normally first presented be the groups in their villages, and the finalists present their Marchas then in the final show.
The Marchas Populares are very big celebrated throughout the whole month of June with a festival in the district of Odemira, in the districts of Avis (Portalegre), Grandola – and many more.