Holy Ghost Festas -- Organizing the Festa

Holding a “festa” is the result of the year-round activities of the dedicated directors and members of the brotherhoods.

Years:  1885 — 2020

Year-Round Activity

Holding a “festa” is the result of the year-round activities of the dedicated directors and members of the brotherhoods.  It begins with the selection of the president and committee to organize the next festa, usually at the last event of the year, the “Festa das Contas”, which is the “Feast of the Accounting” where the final accounting of the current year’s festa is submitted for review by the members.

Funds and Donations

To finance the festa, activities are held throughout the year to raise funds.  Over the years, crab feeds and dinners have become popular fundraising activities.  In addition, the halls are rented for family and community events.  Regular bingo nights are common as well.

Farmers and dairymen will often raise cows to donate for the festa’s “sopas” meal.  It is not uncommon for them to provide the beef for more than one society.

Introduction of the Queen and Side Maids

Often a dinner-dance is held to introduce the incoming queen to the community.  This can take place as a special activity or as part of the festa weekend activities.

Sharing the Crown

During the year, the crown is in a member’s home.  Traditionally, it would be rotated for veneration from one member’s home to another, although in some cases, a single family has ownership or custody of this precious symbol.

Activities During Festa Week

A common tradition is to recite the rosary in the evenings during the week prior to the festa.  Decorated altars are made in the family home and members of the community are invited to attend the rosary service, followed by refreshments and conversation.  The recitation of the rosary may alternatively take place in the society’s chapel or hall.

In addition, the work to prepare the hall and grounds take place during this time.

Festa Weekend

Typically, the festa celebration takes place as a two-day event, although there are many examples of three-day programs.  Today, a traditional Portuguese bloodless bullfight is the highlight of a Monday activity in some communities.


In addition to the enormous task of preparing the meat and bread for the sopas meal, there is usually a dance on Saturday night.  In addition, some communities have added a “bodo de leite”, a parade of allegorical floats centered on a theme with the participation of “carros de bois”.  These are oxen-pulled carts, many times decorated or themed, as well. At the end of the “bodo de leite” the decorated cows are blessed and milk and sweet is distributed to the attendees.


Of course, Sunday is the big day.  It starts at the hall with organizing the procession to the church for celebration of the Mass and the crowning of the queen.  Sopas are served to the celebrants upon returning to the hall.

In the afternoon and evening, there are usually marching band concerts, an auction, and dance.

Festa das Contas

Normally, a “Festa das Contas” is held in the Fall.  During a dinner, a summary accounting of the festa is presented to the members and a newly-elected committee begins plans for the next year’s festa.

Images  (click on image to view full size)