The Holy Ghost Festivities in the Azores

The Holy Ghost Festivities in the Azores

It is said that this devotion came from the Portuguese mainland which in turn acquired it from Germany. In Portugal it was introduced in the 13th century by Queen Isabel and King D. Dinis. In a special ceremony the King and Queen would coronate the poor and would complete the ceremonies with a big feast for all.

The nobles and knights asked the King’s authorization to have an identical ceremony in their properties using a replication of the King’s crown.

In the Azores the Coronation Ceremonies are still very much alive and in most towns and villages throughout the islands it is with much pride and honour that the people collaborate in the preparations of such festivities.

An alter with the exposed crowns and the symbols of the holy ghost, duly decorated, is usually prepared.

There are elected commissions and each year there is an “Emperor” who together with his family and friends organize the processions with the crowns and flags which are topped with the figure of the holy pigeon and serve the traditional meal, sometimes to hundreds of guests.

The typical dish for this time of the year (7 weeks after Easter) is called “Sopas”, which are made with cooked meat and vegetables; the broth in which the meat was cooked is poured over buttered bread with mint leaves. A typical roast beef is also served as a second dish, and for dessert there is rice pudding. “Massa Sovada”, a typical sweet bread, is usually abundant throughout these days. Another ceremony associated to the Holy Ghost Festivities are the traditional processions where usually the women carry baskets of decorated “Rosquilhas” (sweet bread rolls) on their heads, and at the end of the day everyone who comes to the festival will receive one, as a symbol of abundance for all. It is a festival where the main intention is sharing; even some of the folk songs evoke that this time of the year is for “the rich and the poor” !

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