#ritualsoftheworld

The feast of Saint Anthony –
Music, dancing and grilled sardines

The people of Lisbon are well known for their traditions and festivities. One of the best loved and most beautiful of these is the “Festa de Santo António.” The feast in honor of Saint Anthony of Padua – the patron saint of lovers – is celebrated throughout the entire municipality of Lisbon and in nearly all parts of the city.

During the festival, people pray for luck in finding the right partner or seek Saint Anthony’s blessing for a happy marriage. During the entire period, the streets are gaily decorated, accompanied by the sound of traditional music and the aroma of local specialties.

Marchas Populares – Thousands of people celebrate in the streets of Lisbon.

The biggest wedding in Portugal

Without doubt, the highlight of the feast is the mass wedding in the Sé cathedral. Originally an event to enable poor couples to get married, it has meanwhile become a firm tradition. For over 50 years, many young couples have taken the opportunity to get married at the same time, amid the congratulations of thousands of people celebrating the happy day. Those who don’t yet wish to marry, but want to leave a message to their loved one, can hide it in basil, offered in a flower pot decorated with a paper carnation and a picture of Saint Anthony.

Pretty coveted – basil pots garnished with love messages.

Music, dancing, and grilled sardines

On the eve of the festival, colorful processions take place in the various districts – the “Marchas Populares,” traditionally followed by a celebration with good red wine and grilled sardines, which are also the classical symbol of the feast and are everywhere to be found. The scent of grilled sardines and basil wafts through the streets, which are decorated with colorful garlands. After the processions, the night turns to day around the magnificent Avenida de Liberdade, where the party continues into the early hours of the morning in an exciting atmosphere full of bright lights and live music.

Sardines everywhere: the fish is the classic symbol of the Festa de Santo António.

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