The Portuguese Festa begins with a parade. Tradition has it that a a little girl and young woman are both crowned Queen for the day. In the 14th century Queen Isabella of Portugal made a promise to God that if Portugal didn't starve to death during a terrible famine she would crown a young poor maiden Queen for a day and put on a feast each year in thanksgiving to God for hearing her prayers. The Portuguese people in towns all over the world still continue with this tradition.
The crown is carried in the parade by the last year's Queen. The parade begins at the hall and ends at the Church were a mass is said to celebrate the day. During the Mass the priest places the crown on those who want a special blessing. The symbolic gestures of having the crown placed on my head makes me feel connected to the tradition of many festas before and to come. The crown is blessed and is carried out by the new Queen.
After the parade a lunch is served outside. Long tables are set up for a traditional Portuguese meal to be served. The food, the preparation of the food, the cooking, serving, and clean up is provided by volunteer help. After three days of helping I can honestly say my legs feel like they are going to fall off.
Sopas a typical festa food is made by simmering beef bones, with spices and cabbage for hours in a large copper pot. Then when the broth is done it is poured over thick sliced French bread with mint. It is served pipping hot.
After my legs fall off I think the second thing is that my hands will smell like mint for a long time to come.
The beef is cooked in large pots with onions, garlic, bacon, red wine, and a selection of secret spices, cinnamon being one of them. The large pots of meat are put into an outdoor, wood-buning oven to bake for several hours, Then they're set out to marinate and then re baked.
What cultural tradition do you celebrate?