Lisbon and Saint Anthony's Day
The story of Saint Anthony
Fernando Martins de Bulhões was born in 1195 in Lisbon to a noble family and studied at the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Coimbra (Northern Portugal). At the age of 25, he asked to be admitted among the disciples of Saint Francis of Assisi and became "Brother Anthony".
Erudite, great orator and outstanding preacher, he was noticed by the Franciscans who sent him to preach in France, thus encouraging the conversion of many Cathars.
Back in Italy, he was an advisor to Pope Gregory IX for a time and was then sent to Padua where he died on June 13 at the age of 36. He was canonized the following year, being credited with 40 miraculous cures.
It was in the 15th and 16th centuries that his cult spread. He was then invoked to protect sailors and prisoners, but also to find lost objects or to recover health.
The Italians dedicated a Basilica to him in Padua, hence his name "Saint Anthony of Padua" but in the 15th century, the Portuguese made the most of his birth in Portugal, making him known throughout the world at the time of the great discoveries. They made him the Patron Saint of Portugal and more particularly of Lisbon, his city of birth.
Since then, he is honored and celebrated every year throughout Portugal and June 13, the anniversary of his birth, is a public holiday in Lisbon.
The traditions of Saint Anthony
The traditions of Saint Anthony began in the 13th century and have remained alive until today. Many authors associate the origins of the "Festas de Santo António" with ancient pagan rituals, which would be linked to the commemorations of the summer solstice.
Today, as in the past, the important thing is to go out into the street and celebrate summer and life with great joy, dancing, singing, eating and drinking, and talking with your neighbors.
In addition to these popular festivals, many events and celebrations have gradually been added: the weddings of Saint Anthony and the popular marches are the most popular.
Saint Anthony's Day weddings
In 1958, the newspaper "Diário Popular", takes the initiative to make marriage possible for couples with greater financial difficulties. On June 12 of that year, for the first time, 26 couples were united in marriage in the Church of Santo António in Lisbon.
The popular Saint Anthony's Day walks
The Popular Walks take place every year during the night of June 12 on the Avenida da Liberdade. Each district of Lisbon dresses up according to a chosen theme, performs an original song composed for the occasion and makes it known to the whole population by walking down the biggest avenue of the city.
The origin of the popular marches goes back to the 19th century. They are directly related to the tradition of the "torchlight march", where couples marched through the streets illuminated by balloons suspended from reeds.
In Lisbon, the marches appeared in 1932, and quickly became a real musical and visual spectacle and a real competition between the most traditional districts of the capital.
For several months, children, young people and adults create, rehearse choreographies and songs and prepare costumes and floats to represent their neighborhoods in a parade that takes place on the city's most famous avenue.
The celebrations of Lisbon.
Lisbon's festivities now take place throughout the month of June with entertainment and celebrations in all parts of the city. But these festivities find their apotheosis during the night of June 12 to 13.
It is in the streets of the typical districts of Alfama and Bica that the party is in full swing. Lisboners, Portuguese and thousands of visitors gather to the sound of popular music, a drink and a sardine in hand.
The night is endless and be prepared to walk a lot, to get lost in the streets and alleys of Lisbon, to engage in conversation with everyone, to dance in every little square and to taste the famous grilled sardines on a terrace or a corner of an open air bar.
Marjoram and St. Anthony's Day
Marjoram is an aromatic plant like coriander or oregano that grows and matures in the spring, at which time it is usually taken out of the ground and put into a pot.
On Saint Anthony's Day, it is traditional to offer a jar of marjoram to one's fiancée, wife or lover. To this pot is usually associated a small flag with a popular verse referring to love.
The person who receives this offering is then supposed to take care of the marjoram pot until the following year, on Saint Anthony's Day, when she will receive another one.
If you are not able to travel to Lisbon and respect this tradition, you can offer a pot of marjoram in earthenware accompanied by its small flag and a popular verse. Just click on the image below.
The figurines of Saint Anthony
Saint Anthony is the Patron Saint of Portugal, often evoked to obtain protection. Some Portuguese people show him a real devotion, but even non-believers know and respect him and there are few Portuguese homes that do not have a figurine or illustration with the image of Saint Anthony.
In the online store you will find ceramic or wax figurines, just click on the images to discover them.
Santo António en céramique - Collection Luisa Paixão
Santo António en cire - Collection Luisa Paixão