Those words are still ringing in my ears hours after the extraordinary Festa das Torchas Floridas in São Brás de Alportel. This ‘Festival of Flowered Torches’ is an Easter tradition that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. We were not too sure what to expect apart from the flowers, but had definitely had not been expecting the wonderful chanting that accompanies the flowers round. Just watch and listen below.
Apparently these festivals were once seen all over the Algarve, but during the Estado Novo (António de Oliveira Salazar’s regime) many public demonstrations were disallowed and religious events such as this disappeared. Fortunately for us the festival returned here in the early 1980s, its return due to the São Brás priest – José Cunha Duarte. We arrived shortly before 12noon, the procession was supposed to have commenced at 11am but we suspect it was closer to 11:30am before it did as we first caught up with it not far from the church.
The men walk in small groups of 12 to 14 carrying flower torches. We noticed that some of the groups had coordinated in their style of dress and torch, whilst others appeared to have taken more of an individual approach. Every few metres the procession stopped as one or more groups raised their torches and chanted three hallelujahs, every chant was in response to one of their number shouting ‘Ressuscitou como disse!’, although a couple of times it did sound like they were saying something else!
The entire 2km length of the procession route is covered in a carpet of wild flowers and fennel. It smelt as good as it looked! I wasn’t surprised to learn that over a hundred volunteers are involved in creating this carpet which requires around 3 tonnes of flowers and greenery.
The scale and number of torches as well as the amount of detail on many of them was quite incredible. There were simple torches, huge glorious bunches, geometric sculptures, ones with cork, with eggs and even bumble bees. I couldn’t stop taking photographs of these works of art, hence the rather large galleries above and below!
It was such a beautiful and happy procession, a wonderful way to spend Easter Sunday. I do hope you have also had a Happy Easter and to finish here’s another a video of the chanting. If you are still with me after scrolling through all these photographs, then do watch it. It’s only 9 seconds long!