Holy Ghost Festas -- Crowns

Originating with the legend of Queen St. Isabel crowning a humble person to reign over the festival.

Years:  1885 — 2020


One of the main symbols of the Portuguese “festa” is the crown. Going back to the original legend of Queen St. Isabel crowning a humble person to reign over the festival, it still resonates with an aura of quiet mystery.

Each organization has its own history of how their crown was obtained.  In some cases, a family donated it to the society; in other cases, donations were raised.  In 1895, the Half Moon Bay community collected $400 in silver dollars for a new crown.  The money was melted down and molded into the crown still used today.  Some crowns used in the festas are owned by and remain with individual families.  Many of them have been passed down from generation to generation and are important family heirlooms.


The crown of the organization often rotates among the homes of the members of the brotherhood.  Many families set up special niches or small altars where the crown is placed.  Many times, prayers and novenas are said in the homes or at the “império” prior to the day of the festa.

After each festa, names were drawn to decide which families would have the crown for two-week periods. … In 1899, José Smith was paid $6.00 to use his horse and carriage to rotate the crowns for the entire year. -- Santíssima Trindade of North Oakland

On the day of the festa, the new queen of the celebration is crowned at Mass or at the império.  The new queen reigns for one year and represents the brotherhood at other parades throughout the summer.

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