Portuguese traditional festivities - Arraial
Updated: Sep 24, 2019
It all started a long time ago with a very simple affirmation “Let’s do something on Portugal’s Day, maybe a Portuguese event, all together!” Followed by a “Yes, that is a great idea”. The day of Portugal was the 10 of June, and although this date commemorates the death of the national literary icon Luís de Camões, is also a date used to celebrate Portugal and the Portuguese communities. We ended up choosing the 20 of June, because we decided to turn this event into a fun celebration, by presenting the Portuguese festivities that are so typical during the month of June, especially in Lisbon and in Porto. In Lisbon the festivities are called “Festas de Santo António” and in Porto “Festas de São João” and as the festivities of “São João” are celebrated this weekend, and we won’t be there to commemorate, we decided to bring them here and invite everyone!
We started the event with a short quiz of seven questions about Portuguese fun facts, and then did a role play to present the most important and touristic places of our country, starting in Guimarães, (considered the birthplace of Portugal, this is the city where the battle that ensured Portugal’s independence happened); then we moved to Porto, (the second-largest metropolis after Lisbon, and currently one of the main tourist destinations in western Europe); after we stopped in Lisbon (Portugal’s capital) and we finished our little road trip in the region of Algarve, where Portugal receives many tourists every year to enjoy the sea and the beaches. Right after our role-play we invited everyone to form a little train, going around the tables of the terrace, dancing and inviting everyone to join us again in Porto to celebrate “São João” by listening to Portuguese popular music and launching sky lanterns through the sky.
We were finally celebrating our Portuguese festivities by sharing this moment with other volunteers, our coordinators and the local community; and also sharing more information about the Portuguese culture and geography presented in the forms of posters and a small museum. We posted a map with the main places to visit in Portugal, and short biographies of the most important Portuguese figures, the history of Fado, and some translated poems and songs, as well as pictures of traditional food, and most importantly, actual food was served to all the participants. I believe we can consider this one of the most important aspects of our event, as food is a great part of our culture and daily lives (we are constantly thinking about food) and it took one day to cook everything, from the cakes and the sweets, to the salty food (almond pie, “pastel de nata” pie, small coconuts, molotoff, “rissóis”, “pataniscas” of codfish, ”rojões”, there is no easy translation really, the only way to know what this is, is to taste it!) It was a pleasure to be part of this Portuguese team, and I hope all the participants learned more about Portugal, enjoyed and most importantly, had fun at the event!
The photo album can be visited here