Portugal is a catholic country (above 80% of the population is catholic). The Holy week (or, as the Portuguese call it: Semana Santa is celebrated with just devotion and has a predominantly religious character. Although it is less intensive than in Spain, you will still find traditional festivities in the Algarve that are fascinating to attend.
It all starts forty days before Easter, when the period of soberness and fasting is begun and many people abstain from eating meat. Easter Sunday 2019 is 21 April.
On Palm Sunday, one week before Easter, celebrating the day that Jezus entered Jerusalem. Portuguese tradition is that children give their Godparents gifts of olive branches, almonds, flowers or chocolate candy.
In Tavira, a tradition was initiated in the 18th century by the Carmelite Order, and is still alive until this day: the Triumphal Procession. Starting at the church, nine decorated litters of gilded wood displaying the life of Jezus are paraded through the streets and back to the church again.
Good Friday is a national holiday, the start of the Easter holidays, marked by soberness to remember Jezus’ crucification. Portuguese traditional food as codfish is eaten as a main course, as meat is still not allowed.
In Silves, starting around 9.30 pm at the Cathedral, a long procession is held by faithful Christians, all carrying candles and silently following litters bearing the Christ and Virgin Mary through the historic center, while sober music is played. It’s well worth attending.
On Easter Sunday, you can chose to go to São Bras de Aportel, where the Festa das Torchas Floridas, the festival of flower torches, is the annual Celebration of the Resurrection . Streets are decorated by volunteers with flowers, creating beautiful carpets of flowers and petals. The day is started with mass at the church, after which the town’s men will carry torches made of flowers, escorting the statue of Virgin Mary through the streets, chanting “Alleluya!”.
In Loulé, there is the Festa da Mão Soberana, also an impressive procession throughout the streets.
Yet Easter in Portugal is also a moment of family and friends, getting together around a table full of great food. Roasted Lamb is the traditional Easter dish, to celebrate the end of the fasting. Folar de Pascoa is another Portuguese traditional treat in the Algarve: it symbolises the bread of the last supper, and is a bread, often sweet with layers of melted caramel and cinnamon, with an egg cooked in the middle.
It is well worth visiting the Algarve during Easter Holidays: plenty of traditional festivities, and often also sunshine to enjoy those special days. Although the accent lies on religious celebrations, you will also find Easter chocolate eggs and bunnies in the supermarkets.
Easter Holiday to Algarve
Would you like to spent Easter in the Algarve? We have only a few holiday villas available, one of them is Casa Ramos. Located near popular Albufeira, at a nice distance, close to the beach and sleeps up to 8 guests. Private pool and garden, with magnificent views.
This article about Easter, has been brought to you by Algarve Housing, Villa rental company for quality villas in Portugal.
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