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Holy Ghost Festas -- Processions to Parades

Simple processions gave way to elaborate parades complete with marching bands and floats.

Years:  1885 — 2020

Early Processions

A fundamental part of each festa is transporting the crown to the church for the blessing by the priest.  Originally, this was a rather simple procession where the “Mordomo” (Chief Marshal) or a crown bearer would carry the crown in the company of the members of the brotherhood.  In some instances, a small musical group would accompany the procession.

Evolutionary Changes

These processions changed, influenced by American culture.  By the early 1900s, the elements of American parades, with their patriotic flair and flamboyance, eventually became part of the Portuguese experience.  The religious procession gave way to an American parade with marching bands, drill teams, and floats.  Initially, the drill teams were organized by the S.P.R.S.I. and the U.P.P.E.C. women’s fraternal benefit societies.  In addition, the queens from the different societies would march in each other’s parades to make the events more festive affairs.  By the 1930s, combined with fireworks displays and carnival attractions, some of the festas began to resemble community fairs.

Current Changes

Today’s parades, with their elegant queens, societies with their banners and flags, and marching bands have incorporated more traditional aspects of the Portuguese culture.  Ladies walk with baskets of “rosquillas” -- large, round sweet breads with a hole in the middle -- on their heads.  Folklore groups are now a part of some parades.  In addition, as part of the festa weekend, a “bodo de leite” may be a Saturday event.  It’s a parade of oxen-pulled carts and sometimes includes themed floats.  Decorated cows are blessed, and milk and sweet bread are distributed to the attendees.  Some festa weekends extend to Monday with a bloodless bullfight. Today, the festa parade is a blend of its traditional roots and its American character.

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