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Portugal is an ancient country that holds ancient traditions, full of a deep symbolism, whether religious or social. Popular festivals are unique experiences for both participants and tourists.

The Festivals of the Popular Saints are held in the month of June – Saint Anthony, Saint John and Saint Peter – the streets overflow with animation, fun, dances and popular specialties. Portuguese from all the country and tourists from worldwide come up to celebrate in honor of the Popular Saints.

In Lisbon, the Popular Festival of Saint Anthony is a vivid celebration that takes place in the week of 13th of June, and gathers thousands of people who want to have fun.

During these festivities, houses are adorned with basil, people take to the streets to eat grilled sardines and corn bread.

The marriages of St. Anthony are held in the same week, a ceremony where several couples celebrate their marriage together, under the protection of the saint.

As in Lisbon, the Popular Festival of Saint John, in Porto and Braga, bring together, thousands of people, a celebration where excitement is present in each corner, with its apogee on the night of 23 to 24 June. In Porto people gather in the old town and eat grilled sardines, corn bread and “caldo verde”, a green soup.

After dinner, Avenida dos Aliados and the district of Ribeira exhibit to all the tourists an extraordinary fireworks show.

Porto has other habits and customs: the old tradition was for revellers to beat each other on the head with a leek, but nowadays they use plastic hammers. Tradition also demands that hot air balloons are released in the sky filling with colour Porto’s night and making one of the most beautiful spectacles in these popular celebrations. 

Autumn in Portugal brings to our mind Saint Martin’s day, which is commemorated on the 11th of November in the whole country, with the taste of roasted chestnuts and new wine, but it is in Golegã that thousands of people gather to attend and admire the fantastic National Horse Fair.

Once a year, the peaceful city transforms into a bustling, lively horse fair!

All horses’ breeders attend the Fair to exhibit their splendid horses. The city is the largest place for the business of thoroughbreds raised in Portugal, which are later sold to several countries worldwide.

Golegã is known today for being the Capital of the Horse, but it is also a place where some of the most beautiful country shows happen:  Rallies, Raids, Equestrian Activities, World Championships, Coach Marathon and Exhibitions bringing to the city thousands of visitors.

The traditional costumes, the music, the colourful flowers adornments, and the religious figures that can be admired in the processions will leave you unforgettable memories.

After the religious ceremonies, the time has come to celebrate and have fun with family and friends, to the rhythm of a dance or a song.

One of the oldest religious festivals in Portugal is the “Festa dos Tabuleiros”, the Festival of the trays which takes place in Tomar, in the center of the country.

It is a tribute to the harvest. Full of colour and emotion, it strolls to the main streets of the city, among the colourful bedspreads on the windows, the thousands of tourists and under a shower of flowers petals thrown to the procession.

The magnificent trays are bread offering, and they are renowned for their richness and range of patterns, decorated with hand made paper flowers.

The pilgrimage to the Shrine of Fátima is also one of the most important Portuguese traditions that attract tourists from all over the world.

The main dates are May 13th, the day that celebrates the first appearance of Our Lady of Fatima to the three shepherds in the village of Fatima in 1917. The other date is the 13th of October when the last apparition of Our Lady occurred and the date when the virgin asked the three shepherds to build a chapel in her honor.

The handcraft is another Portuguese tradition that delights all visitors. From the 17th century, handcraft achieved another national notoriety, especially in the fields of ceramics, tapestry, embroidery and jewelry, among many others.

The “Galo de Barcelos” (rooster of Barcelos) is the master piece of the Portuguese ceramic tradition and the most illustrious Portuguese symbol. It is generally made of clay and, despite its origin and greater affirmation in the north, it is today a Portuguese emblem popular both national and internationally.

The colorful “azulejo” is also one of the oldest Portuguese traditions, with Arabic origins – its manufacture has more than five centuries of history. You will find and admire the beauty of these masterpieces in churches, old train stations but also in many houses.

The Portuguese tradition in tapestry emerged in the eighteenth century, portraying themes such as the Portuguese accomplishments, religion and others. The most known in the world are undoubtedly the carpets of Arraiolos, Alentejo. These rugs are characterized by being embroidered in wool on a linen or cotton cloth with Arraiolos stitch, unique in the world.

Another form of a very typical handicraft that is part of the Portuguese traditions is undoubtedly the lace. The most well-known in Portugal is the bobbin lace from Vila do Conde and Peniche.  This type is very characteristic of the coastal zones of Portugal and requires a lot of work, dedication and patience.

The typical Nazaré skirts in the center of Portugal, with the women of the fishing village wearing 7 overlapping skirts and an embroidered apron, are an attraction for those who visit this lovely beach. The lover’s handkerchiefs, more characteristic in the north of the country, are embroidered handkerchiefs that served originally as an adornment but also to conquer the boyfriend.

Finally, another highlight in the Portuguese craftsmanship is the jewellery, and in particular the filigree. This is the manual art of working especially gold and silver, that requires their artisans a great deal of dedication; the largest centres of the national production are Gondomar, in Porto, and Póvoa de Lanhoso, in Braga.

Among other pieces of the Portuguese filigree, we can find the hearts of Viana do Castelo, crucifixes and earrings. These pieces serve as a decorative element to enrich the traditional costumes in popular festivals, mainly in the north of the country.