Wednesday, 15 July 2015

An afternoon visit to Tomar - Festa dos Tabuleiros - The decorated streets and the festive procession - The 12th of July 2015

As I was walking down from the Convent of Christ I could clearly see some of the colourful street decorations for the Festival of the Trays festive celebration from above so as I reached the city I decided to briefly stroll around some of the decorated streets and was visibly surprised at the amount of work involved not only in making the paper flowers but having them spread in intricate designs along the streets. According to tradition the best decorated street is later awarded a prize.

Approaching the main square, where one of the most important moments of the procession would take place, I sighted some women in their festive garments (long white skirt and embroidered white blouse with a colour ribbon across the bosom and tied around the waist).
It must be said that this traditional festivity which is held every four years bears the name of the trays (tabuleiros) carried  by the women in the procession. Its origin is believed to be tied to ancestral Ceres Deity harvesting related practices and the celebration of agricultural fertility introduced in Portugal during the reign of the "farmer" King, Dom Dinis and his wife Queen Isabel, the Saint.

The "tabuleiros" the girls carry in the procession are decorated with symbols of the Holy Spirit - on top of the tray there is either a dove or a crown. The tabuleiro must incorporate 30 loaves of bread, each of which must weigh 400 grams and be decorated with colourful paper flowers (generally field poppies and ears of corn). Each tabuleiro has to have the same height as the girl or lady who carries it.

Every burough of Tomar is represented in the procession which runs along a five kilometre distance within the city and around the main square, which was overcrowded. I could barely move when the first fireworks were discharged announcing the procession was on its way.

It was headed by a brass band group followed by representatives of the buroughs carrying the symbolic silver crowns and finally the ladies  in groups of two carrying the tabuleiros and sided by male companions wearing a tie of the same colour of their ribbon.

(To be continued)

No comments:

Post a Comment