Festival of St. John of Porto….a festival that is celebrated here in Porto every year during Midsummer on June 23….We were fortunate that we were in Porto on 23rd and could have first-hand experience of this beautiful amalgamation of sacred and profane traditions.
The festival of St. John is being celebrated since centuries and on the night of 23rd, the atmosphere of the city is completely transformed…joy and happiness spreads to each and every corner of the place. The crowd from neighbouring cities and towns come down for this important day.
People…old and young…all gather on streets for celebrations. As one moves around on the street, the eyes are delighted by the cheerful faces of people who are filled with joy and happiness. Food stalls holding delicious barbecued sardines, colours all over, dances, musical concerts and fireworks that go off in the sky add to the unlimited fun and entertainment that one experiences…it seems as if all the happiness that one could have in life is here in Porto on this eve of St. John’s.
Unique to Porto is the tradition of hitting the passer-by with a soft squeaky plastic hammer, a friendly way of saying ‘Holla’…We felt ‘almost Portuguese’ as we walked the streets receiving many such ‘Hollas’ throughout the evening.