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Perfectly Imperfect Life..........

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Portuguese Holy Ghost Festa

My last post mentioned attending a Portuguese Festa.
I attended so many growing up.
My parents always went to the one in
 Manteca because we had family there.
Our family has spread out over the years ~
 since my Sister and I have left the nest, we've ventured out a bit.
My Sister lives in Petaluma so we have gone to several there.
I live in Newman and we have attended the largest in the valley at Our Lady Of Miracles in Gustine.
It has been the largest for many, many years. When my Dad was little they lived in Modesto and would make room at their home for many Portuguese friends who would travel cross country to come to Gustine for the celebration.
When my Mother was young she was crowned Queen at St Michael's in Livermore 
where she was born and raised, as were my sister and I.
My Grandmother made her beautiful beaded long dress 
with collar and train by hand! Who was a beautiful seamstress in her own right.
Now as my parents have gotten older (and since Mom has passed)we attend The Holy Ghost in Livermore.
It's usually around Dad's Birthday so it makes for an overall beautiful celebration.
I thought maybe you would like a little more information
regarding exactly what the Festa represents, 
this article describes it well. =)

"Feed your fascination for other cultures by going to a Portuguese Holy Spirit festival.
Whether your name is Silva or McClanahan, you'll be welcomed.
Portuguese Americans from the Azores-many whose ancestors came to the West to fish or farm hold festas (pronounced "fesh-tas") in California, Nevada, and Hawaii.
There may be one in your city or town; more than 500,000 Azorean Americans live in California alone.
The festa tradition, which has been observed in this country for about a hundred years, mingles Catholic religious beliefs and ancient legend. Although the sentiment behind festas is the same everywhere, particular customs can differ between communities. The Sunday portion usually starts at 10 A.M., with a parade from the Portuguese hall in town to a church. Other fesh-tivities sometimes including bloodless bullfights-- take place on Friday evenings, Saturdays, and Monday evenings.

But for the uninitiated, the Sunday events are the most interesting. Appointed festa queens make their way down the parade route towing capes of velvet, jewels, seed pearls, beading, feathers, and appliques (their finery, and other aspects of the festa, recall 14th-century Queen Isabel, a peacemaker and friend to the poor-particularly during a Portuguese famine). A Portuguese brass band or two enliven the atmosphere. At the church, the costumed parade cast jams into the front pews, and a Mass is said, often in Portuguese. After the Mass, the priest crowns the Queen at the altar.
A feast of tradition
The parade then returns to the Portuguese hall, where the new Queen releases a white dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, into the air. (The popular belief that a visit from the Holy Spirit is what enabled Isabel to relieve her people's suffering is the subject of several miraculous legends; according to one, the queen, smuggling food to the poor in midwinter, produced live roses from her robes when her husband, Diniz, demanded to see what she was concealing.)
Inside the festa hall, volunteers prepare sopas e carne (beef soup),
served free to everyone in the charitable spirit of Isabel.
To make the sopas, cows donated by Portuguese community members are slaughtered and boiled for about 6 hours in huge pots (some large enough to hold the meat of entire cows).
Added are onions, paprika, cinnamon, cumin, tomato, wine, and sometimes cabbage. The broth is poured over French bread and mint sprigs; the beef is served alongside.
Throughout the day, you can usually buy other Portuguese specialties-sweet bread, linguica, tremocos (boiled lupino beans).
After the meal, an auctioneer sells homemade bread, wine, and table linens.
Proceeds are used to defray the cost of the festas. Portuguese music fills the ball Sunday night (or sometimes Saturday),
and dancers stamp their feet, spin,
and pose according to the calls of the chamarita. Generally, a community holds its festa at the same time every year."
Sunset Magazine
Every year I try (someone usually outbids me) to win some homemade delicacy.
This year I finally did!!

Portuguese Sweet Bread,
Portuguese Cheese From Portugal (huge wheel came into the Oakland Port, they cut wedges and zip locked),
Casal Mendes (a white Portuguese Wine),
and the illusive Pièce de résistance....
Aquardente (Homemade Portuguese moonshine)!!
Let's party til the cows come home!!


  1. Deb we have the same thing here every weekend till after the 4th of july. There are a few Portuguese clubs near me. I have one having theirs tonight one street over. Sundays are the best soup and bread.. YUmmy I can't wait.. Have a good one.

  2. You're so lucky to so many near you! Enjoy!


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