Festas Nossa Senhora: An Azorean Celebration

Hi everyone! This post in continuation of my full coverage of my trip to the Açores, the group of Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic. Check out my other posts about the Açores here

Portugal is quite a Catholic country and therefore they also have many reasons for celebration and remembrance. Several festivities occur throughout the year and yes, the celebrations can be large in big cities, but every small town has their own version as well.

The Açores has taken on their own sense of religious identity and the summer months are very important to Azoreans. Each town has their own type of celebration always relating to some sort of Festas Nossa Senhora, “Festival of Our Lady”. In Água de Pau, a town close to my family historically, the celebration is called Festas Noms Senhora dos Anjos, “Festival of Our Lady of Angels”.

The streets are filled with children and their families, all eager to see this year’s festivities. It is really heartwarming to see the community coming together.


Parade & Fireworks

The celebration takes up an entire week, with different activities and ceremonies. Besides the usual religious stuff you would expect to see, there is also a lot of fun stuff to do! A carnival, fireworks, concerts, you name it. The celebration goes on all evening.

One of the parades is a silly parade. Each year there is a different theme, but one thing remains the same: the humour! The goal is make everyone laugh and possibly embarrass everyone!

One unique event in Água de Pau is the lottery. You buy a jar of rolled up pieces of paper. Inside one of the rolled pieces of paper is a number which lets you know you’re a winner. If you find a number, you go to claim your prize. The reward can really be anything… from sheets to vases to toys. My little cousin Manuel (pictured below) was really grumpy at first because he couldn’t find a number. Eventually he found one!

Flower Carpet

On the last day of a week of celebrations, it is time for the flower carpets. Those who live along the main streets of the town decorate the front of their house with patches of a flower carpet. This carpet connects throughout the town.

In the days before residents go hunting for natural pieces to use to decorate their carpets. The key is to find the most vibrant flower petals. This event is my absolute favourite. I love the colours and the different designs everyone comes up with.

Of course, then a parade walks on top of the flower carpet. You may think this would ruin it. But, what is left is a beautiful mosaic of flower petals.

Read on about the town of Vila Franca do Campo, another great place to explore.

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