St Anthony Feast in Lisbon

On June 12 every year, Lisboetas take to the streets to celebrate their patron saint, St Anthony. Known to be the protector of lost items, the poor, travelers and marriage, Anthony gets his moment in the spotlight during this colorful public holiday.

I joined feasting Lisboetas last night in paying homage to their favorite saint. Crowds of people wandered around the lantern-filled streets at midnight as I descended on the city’s grand Avenida da Liberdade to watch the parades. The smell of grilled sardines in the air was overwhelming – grills were set up on practically every street corner to support this typically Portuguese tradition.

Quite like the samba schools of Rio, the various neighborhood clubs and associations of Lisbon come out on this night to compete for the best parade, choreography, song, costume, lyrics, and scenography. I caught a couple of parades, including one by the famous Alfama group. Today I found out that the following neighborhood clubs won awards – Marvila, Alfama, Castelo, Bica and Beato.

Lisbon was only beginning to let loose as I made my way home close to 2am. What I skipped was a long night of street parties, festivities, live music and all sorts of fun. Apparently, today, on June 13, many couples get married. I just hope they’re not too hungover.

Blog Comments

a major holiday on my birthday!! They tell you it’s for st anthony but really, they are celebrating my birthday!

So maybe we should rename it St Matt Feast!

This sounds like an amazingly fun time. Did you plan your trip in order to catch this feast? I really find it amazing that so many European cities have festivals that last into the wee hours of the morning…and not just in bars and restaurants, but in all the streets. It gives you a real sense of community when everybody congregates on the streets to celebrate with music, drinks, authentic local cuisine, and amazing performers.

If you have been to both Rio and Lisbon, have you been able to notice a huge difference in the accents of Portugal’s Portuguese speakers and those of Brazil? I am currently learning Brazilian Portuguese, but I am unaware of how different Portuguese sounds in these two countries.

Hope you’re having a blast!

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Happy 2014