This time last year it was Easter and so we were in São Brás de Alportel enjoying the splendour of Festa das Tochas Floridas. For some reason I didn’t write a post about it last year, possibly because we were only a couple of days away from leaving for the summer or maybe because this is an event I have written about multiple times.
- First with Aleluia, Aleluia, Aleluia in 2016
- Twice in 2017; first focusing on the stunning carpet and then a day later on the procession
- And twice again in 2018, sharing the beauty at the end, and the full tale of the carpet
However it is such an extraordinary event I thought I would treat you to my photographs from last year. Let’s begin with just a few photos of the two kilometres of carpet.
The festival couldn’t take place this year because of COVID-19. Such a loss for the local community, although the upside of course of it not taking place is that the three tonnes of local greenery, lavender, rosemary, crown daises and other wild-flowers have not been collected. Part of me is happy about this, and I am sure the local fauna is delighted!
Those of you who have been following me for a while will know that the festival doesn’t just consist of a floral carpet. There are also torches of flowers carried in a lengthy procession, and they are accompanied by music and chanting. Prior to the 20th century the singing and chanting was led by the clergy and choirs, but as their numbers have dwindled it became common practice for the chanting to be led by confrarias from the local community instead.
The ‘confrarias’ are groups, some are social clubs others agricultural co-operatives. The flower torches are different for each group. Once the procession starts, occasionally on time, one person in each confrarias will at some point cry ‘Ressuscitou como disse!’ and their group will turn to face each other and respond with ‘Aleluia, Aleluia, Aleluia’.
It is a very joyful and exuberant parade, but you may have spotted from the video there is also lots of standing around! Mainly because every time a confrarias stops then the group behind has to wait until they have finished. There are also just random moments of long stops with no chanting.
The highlight of the festival has to be the torches. In the 18th and 19th century they were actual torches, but since its revival in the 20th century flowers have been used. Some of the torches are more than 5ft in height, whilst others are simple bouquets. All though are extraordinary works of art. If you have time do click on the gallery below to see in more detail a few of the ones we saw last year.