Easter Parade; São Brás de Alportel; Algarve
Flower Torch Festival
The Resurrection Procession in the eastern Algarve town of São Brás de Alportel is a unique manifestation of its people's sentiments.
Easter Sunday, the townspeople carpet the streets with flowers.
"[He] has risen, as He said. Alleluia!"
This is the cry that echoes through the streets bedecked in flowers.
This is the voice of Faith that is heard year after year. This is the strength of tradition!
The streets are turned into a sea of flower torches. The men form ranks and get the procession under way, carrying the torches aloft in their hands. Along the way, they gather into little groups to take turns at crying out the "Alleluia". Here and there, you will hear a powerful, sonorous voice, "[He] has risen, as He said!" The group lifts their torches high and, with great cheer and enthusiasm, responds, "Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!”
It is the popular manifestation of faith in Christ resurrected.
Next Easter Sunday, São Brás de Alportel will once again be the stage for one of the most genuine cultural manifestations of a religious nature in the country – the age-old Alleluia Procession, in honour of Christ resurrected, where the litters are replaced with the flowers that adorn the magnificent torches.
The streets are packed with people, the balconies are decorated with mats that sway in the wind. Stunning carpets of flowers, magnificently created by volunteers, mark out the route of the procession. On this day, it is tradition that speaks the loudest and, in the name of tradition, the torches are held aloft, and everyone sings, "[He] has risen, as He said! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!" The emotion is tangible on this day that means so much to the people.
São Brás de Alportel comes alive with festivity every Easter Sunday. On this day, many people who were born here but who have since moved away to other towns, cities or even countries, return home to join their fellow townspeople in this day of pride.
But many others also come to São Brás on this day. Year after year, thousands of tourists make the trip to São Brás on Easter Sunday.
The Flower Carpet
A carpet of flowers stretches for one kilometre, marking the route taken by the procession, as though Spring herself had come to São Brás to celebrate this festive day.
It takes three tonnes of flowers and the work of a hundred or so volunteers to create this veritable work of art.
After an exhausting week's work picking and preparing the flowers, the early morning hours of Easter Sunday are the busiest of all. Starting at around 5 am, people work frantically until daybreak, so that when the sun rises it will shine down on the magnificent carpet of flowers lining the route of the procession. It can be admired in the streets of São Brás de Alportel from 9.30 am onwards.
During the afternoon, the organisers offer a varied cultural programme for visitors. Portuguese music is the main ingredient and various bands perform for the public. Admission is free.
And while you are enjoying the music, you can also sample some of the tasty regional sweets and nibbles at the space set aside for exhibits and sales of regional gastronomy and confectionery.
Be sure to try the delicious Easter cakes, called "folares", which are traditional at this time of year, and the tender São Brás almonds, an artisanal speciality prepared in copper pans.
Exhibition of Flavours
Starting at 10 am in the square called "Largo de São Sebastião", right in the centre of town and close to the procession route, you can sample some of the typical sweets of this eastern Algarve town.
A little fair, showcasing and selling regional sweets, lets you try all sorts of tasty delights from southern Portugal: the typical Easter cakes (folares), the tender São Brás almonds, and sweets made from dried fruits such as figs, almonds and the wonderful carob. This latter is the upland answer to chocolate and you must not miss the chance to try it. All this and much more can be sampled during the Exhibition of Flavours at the Flower Torch Festival.
If you would like to help pick the flowers, make the carpet or assist with any of the other activities involved in the organisation of the Flower Torch Festival, contact the Associação Cultural Sambrasense (by phone on 289845665 or 969682672/94, or by e-mail: email@example.com) or contact the Parish of São Brás.