SAINT JOHN AND SAINT PETER, IN THE LITERARY STYLE OF CAMILO CASTELO BRANCO*
The Popular Saints Festivities - or Old-fashioned Loves in Porto and Afurada, in Gaia.
In a season adorned with color and lightness, the celebrations of the Popular Saints take hold of the city of Porto and of the locality of Afurada, in Vila Nova de Gaia. Saint John, in Porto, and Saint Peter, in Afurada, emerge as festive symbols that flood the streets with enchantment and devotion, leading us to a time where tradition intertwines with the present. It is a period of collective contentment, where the pulsating festive atmosphere intoxicates the spirits and allows us to make part of the essence of popular celebrations.
In the city of Porto, on the 23rd to the 24th of June, Saint John night is a whirlwind of enthusiasm and revelry. Decorated streets, dressed-up inhabitants, and the tempting aroma of basil plants (manjericos) and grilled sardines in the air. Hammers and local leeks dance in festive hands, in audacious gestures of playfulness and complicity. Amid mischievous smiles and furtive glances, restless hearts find each other in a unique rhythm, surrendering to the magic of this enchanted night.
Running high on crackling bonfires, the rising dancing shadows play with the sacred fire. Lively dances intone cheerful melodies, inducing the bodies in joyful rhythms. And in the firmament, at midnight, fireworks draw constellations of colors and sparks, illuminating the night in splendor. Saint John, patron of the flames, blesses the festivities with his ancient benevolence, filling smiles with the magic of the past. Floating lightness in nocturnal skies, the sky lanterns ascend, kissing the stars. In their flickering flames, whispered secrets and pursued dreams reside. Saint John is the supreme witness to the ephemeral flight of the fire balloons hovering in the celestial ether.
In Afurada, in Gaia, Saint Peter is the saint to honor, celebrated on the 29th of June. The banks of the Douro River bear witness to lively festivities, where popular music fills the ambiance with animated melodies. Exciting conversations can be heard, and gestures of friendship and camaraderie are witnessed among the ones fully immersed in the moment.
In Afurada, charming fishing village, Saint Peter, the revered saint, unfurls his sacred mantle. Men of faith and devotion, the fishermen solemnly and deeply pay tribute to their patron. In addition to the pious ceremonies, tradition relies on delicious delights: the typical grilled sardines, the Avintes cornbread, and other delicacies that enchant the palate. And in the starry firmament, fireworks sketch ephemeral constellations, illuminating the divine scenery. The culmination of the celebration comes with the procession, made up of floats carrying sacred images, followed by the faithful dressed in the old-fashioned way of the children of the sea. As they cross the banks of the Douro, the boats receive the divine blessing, accompanied by the sound of sirens and the thunderous roar of fireworks.
At the heart of the Popular Saints festivities lies a romantic tradition that awakens hearts and nourishes passions: the manjericos (basil plants). These small pots of earth with a basil plant branch are prominent romantic symbols, offered among lovers and sweethearts with a tender gesture and a complicit smile. The manjericos, apart from exuding a fresh and distinctive aroma, are adorned with popular love verses, written with care and a poetic sentiment. They are secret and symbolic messages, expressing ardent feelings and promises of eternal love. With each offered manjerico, there is hope for a love story to bloom, embraced by the enchantment of popular celebrations and the magic of tradition. It is a gesture that unites souls and perpetuates the romance of bygone times, immersing us in a unique atmosphere where lightness and love intertwine in a passionate smile.
The festivities of the Popular Saints bring a mixture of emotions and traditions, in a time when the heart of the people beats with fervor. Embark on this journey, through narrow streets and winding alleys, discover the enchanted smiles and gestures of friendship that fill the corners of these experiences. Saint John and Saint Peter await you for genuine moments of celebration, under their watchful, always generous and protective gazes.
*This article was written using AI, with the aim of recreating the author's style and thus provide readers with a record of the festivities of Saint John in Porto and Saint Peter in Afurada, in the style of Camilo Castelo Branco, one of the leading figures of the literary romanticism in Portugal.