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Portuguese celebrate centuries-old tradition

The 2018 Festival of the Holy Spirit (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Music and food will help to bring Portuguese culture alive when a centuries-old national tradition marks its 24th year in Bermuda this weekend.

Organisers said everyone was welcome to celebrate the free Festival of the Holy Spirit at King’s Square in St George.

Baked Portuguese goods will be among the treats on offer alongside live entertainment from 7pm on Saturday.

Activities on Sunday start at 1.30pm with a procession to Stella Maris Church for a 2pm service before the walk back to the square at about 3.45pm, after which festivities will resume at 5pm until 11pm.

An organiser explained yesterday that the festival stemmed from Portugal’s Queen Isabel and her husband, King Dom Dinis, who encouraged people throughout their kingdom to celebrate the Holy Spirit and established a church dedicated to the Holy Spirit some time between 1296 and 1325.

She said the festival had been practised all over the world where there are people of Portuguese descent and added: “Twenty-four years ago, the idea was born to carry on the tradition of this festival here in Bermuda and we celebrate it in St George’s because this is where it began.”

Although in the Azores one family normally takes on the responsibility of organising the celebrations at their own expense, a committee, or Commissao, was formed to bring together the celebrations here.

The spokeswoman said another part of the tradition that followed Queen Isabella’s efforts was the distribution of food.

She said: “Families give a monetary donation and, on the Saturday of the festival weekend, voluntarily go around and deliver, massa — egg bread, bread, wine and a piece of meat to say thank you and for a blessing of what these gifts represent.

“What the Commissao also does in Bermuda is give a gift to families who we know, or have been told, would not be able to give a monetary gift.

“We give them a gift from the Commissao in the spirit of Queen Isabella who originally gave of her own food to feed the poor.”