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.