Every year, since a long long time ago, people in Aveiro celebrate a traditional religious celebration during four days in January (this time from 07/01 until 11/01). It takes place in a lagoonside neighbourhood and it is a tribute to a Saint, Saint Gonçalo, whose name is often said in the diminutive – Saint Gonçalinho. For those who believe, Saint Gonçalo is known for a healing power in bone diseases and also for resolving marital problems.
This vestival, which atracts people from troughout the region and other parts of the country, has some peculiar characteristics. Examples? During these four days, tons of cavacas are tossed from the chapel and are then picked up by the crowd on the street. In this ritual the devotees pay the promises made to the saint, in an unique tribute of expression, worship and veneration given to the Holy by pilgrims.
Cavacas are made of eggs sugar, flour, sunflower, oil and vanilla and can be of two types: round and relatively soft, to be eaten, or elongated and very hard, more difficult to eat, for realease from the top of the chapel.
The festivities also include:
- socialization rituals in the chapel of S. Gonçalo and surrounding areas;
- fireworks in one of the estuary channels;
- popular balls and concerts;
- pilgrimage through the narrow streets of this neighborhood;
- the “Dance of the Lame“, performed by a group of men who, pretending to be lame and disabled, move around, limping and dancing to the songs that echo in the chapel.
The handover of each Party Commission for the following year reflects the reproductive nature of the celebration and introduces another point of interest in the festivity, with the delivery of the “branches” to new stewards. These branches are made of artificial flowers, preserved carefully for many years.
It is always a lot of fun to be part of these festivities. Do you have any peculiar celebration in your city? Let me know in the comment section!