Saturday, July 03, 2010

Saints Days

June and July are a never ending round of saints day festivals here in Portugal. Each town, city, and village has its own saint and celebrates it with bright paper banting that collapses in the wind, banners and icons, solemn parades carrying heavy plaster figures, bangers (fireworks), strong coffee, grilled sardines and peppers set up on make-shift tables on slippery and sloping cobble-stone streets, sangria, red wine, dancing, a dozen more sardines, more pots of sangria and a kind of staggering of the dancing-kind. Show-offs will down more sardines, pushing a whole one into his mouth and removing just the skeleton (wish I could do that). And everyone will swear that the street doesn't slope one little bit.

 Then, not necessarily on the same day but always at midnight, there's a mighty firework display that will put the municipal council in the red for another year. But at least it's enjoyed by the inhabitants, pets, stray dogs, elderly folk trying to sleep, and feathered creatures of all denominations.

Every day's a holiday somewhere, just never in the same place on the same day, so if you work in Lisbon but live someplace else, consider yourself very lucky. Lisbon celebrates Saint Anthony, Porto's holiday is on Saint John's Day, the middle of the country has a knees-up on Saint Peter's Day.

This is a picture of a Portuguese worker who has just been told that in the future the country will celebrate one day and one day only in June, not the whole month, and will put an end to the extra-extra long weekends or "pontes" that has put Portuguese output at zero for 30 days.

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