In November, the Portuguese celebrate All Saints’ Day, which is a holiday of the Roman Catholic Church that pays homage to all the known and unknown saints. In this article, you will learn about two Catholic holidays celebrated in Portugal, including Corpus Christi Holy Day.
All Saints’ Day in Portugal
Many people join in one of the national processions celebrating All Saints’ Day, which lead into a local cemetery. Offerings of flowers are left on the graves of deceased relatives. In some villages, small lights are carried through the streets on the way to the graveyard. Many people will stay for most of the day to ‘visit’ with the dead. An annual horse fair and festival called the Feira de Sao Martinho is held on All Saints Day. With a reputation as being the most significant horse fair in all of Portugal, people gather to watch equestrian games, parades, and exhibitions of bullfighting.
During the holiday, children are known to celebrate by going door to door where they are given nuts, sweet nut cakes, apples, pomegranates, and the ‘bread of God,’ which is seasoned with cinnamon and herbs. This tradition (called Pao-por-Deus) only takes place in some areas around the capital city of Lisbon.
Mass and other religious ceremonies are held for the souls of the deceased on All Saints’ Day. Some priests will offer mass at one of the local burial grounds. Some churches will hold up to three masses on All Saints’ Day. Open-air feasts are commonplace during the holiday, where traditional foods are served. During ancient times, the custom was to hold a banquet at the graves of the deceased. Today, wine and chestnuts are offered during open-air feasts called magustos.
Corpus Christi Holy Day in Portugal
Taking place in the month of June, the Corpus Christi Holy Day in Portugal is considered one of the most significant events of the year for the Portuguese. Known as a Western Catholic feast day, the Portuguese celebrate the event on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. The holiday involves music, dance, and firework displays.
The festival is a traditional Catholic way to acknowledge the Eucharist, also known as the Holy Communion of the Lord’s Supper. If you have read the New Testament, then you already know that it is said that Jesus gave his disciples bread and wine at the Last Supper as representation of his body and blood. Because of this, when bread (or a wafer) and wine is administered, they are seen as a symbol of Christ’s body and blood, as well as his soul and divinity.
On the Corpus Christi Holy Day, mass is held, followed by a procession that carries the consecrated wafer through the streets. The procession is seen as a representation of the sacrifice made by Christ. People wear elaborate costumes and perform impressive rituals during the day. The holy day has been a part of Portuguese celebrations for more than 7 Ã‚Â½ centuries.