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One of the most outstanding expressions of the Portuguese culture is Fado, usually sung with only one voice accompanied by guitar and Portuguese guitar. In 2011, Fado was classified as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. It appears in popular contexts of the Lisbon 19th century and begun to be heard in the streets spontaneously, in entertainment and leisure moments. Fado, whose word means "fate", is sung in melancholy tone invoking quotidian themes connected with saudade (nostalgia), love, jealousy, tragedy, fate and destiny, and with suffering. The fascination with Fado comes by the contrast between this nostalgic content and the fado singer rhythm that transmit a heart-warming sense of humor that can touch even those who do not know any Portuguese words.
There are two Fado’s derivations sung in Portugal, the Fado of Lisbon and the Fado of Coimbra. The Fado of Lisbon, sung mainly in the districts of Alfama and Mouraria is the most popular, and it has references to the love and saudade thematic, a sadness chant with a sense of past and present sorrows, but it can also tell a funny story with irony, sung by a singer accompanied by a guitar and a Portuguese guitar. The Fado of Coimbra has a more academic nature, and reflects a romantic and descriptive tendency of the student’s life in that city and is sung by men dressed in black capes accompanied by the Portuguese guitar. One of the Fado’s major Diva, known worldwide as the Queen of Fado, and which strongly influenced the modern Fado you hear today, was Amália Rodrigues, who died in 1999. Other important historical names are Carlos do Carmo, Alfredo Marceneiro, Carlos Ramos, Hermínia Silva among many other excellent singers. More recently Fado was popularized and taken across borders by excellent young singers as Mariza, Camané, Carminho, Ana Moura and others. Nowadays we can hear this Portuguese traditional song in establishments typically decorated in a relaxed atmosphere. When in the middle of the conversations noises you listened the Portuguese sentence "Silêncio que se vai cantar o Fado" (Silence, Fado will be sung) do it and let yourself be carried away by the powerful singing of this chant.
The Cante Alentejano, sung in a group and without the use of musical instruments is a typical chant of Alentejo, the Portuguese region established by the limits of the Tagus River by north and the Algarve region by south. Usually is sung in a group by men from the countryside, and the choir is divided into three voices - the Ponto, the Alto and the Secondary Voices. The Ponto, solo singer, always initiates the first two verses, followed by the Alto that sings a third above and the rest chorus goes into the Ponto's tone, while the Alto embellishes the melody and fills the pauses. The origins of Cante date back to the past, to the arduous days of work in the field, and emerged as a way of workers snuggle their spirit and distancing themselves mentally from the harsh bustle of day-to-day. The collective Cante that sprang from the throats of men and women as they walked under the Alentejo blazing sun to clear miles of fields, gave a sense of strength to fool physical weakness. With the decline of traditional agricultural economy the cante passes from the fields to the streets, from the streets to the popular festivals and begins to be heard in every tavern, creating the first groups with organizational consistency. The woman who has always followed this tradition is muted in cante, because of their social status that imposed the tavern was not a place for ladies, just coming to sing later after April 25 feminist movements. The songs called "modas" approach themes that portray people of Alentejo, the ploughing, the suffering, the love, the belief and the death. It served not only to demand better living conditions, but also to deal with the difficulties. In 2014 it was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Popular traditional dances
All regions of Portugal have a traditional dance, and for many of them is not known its origins. However it is known that many reflect the courtship and wooing traditions of each place and are practiced with great joy and enthusiasm. Costumes flaunted during these traditional expressions are full of colors and represent the clothing from the countryside or festivities. There are numerous traditional dances from each region, and the best known are the Vira, the Chula, the Malhão, the Corridinho, the Tirana, and the Fandango, and others like the Bailarico, the Ciranda, the Farrapeira, the Gota, the Regadinho, and the Saias.
In various regions of Portugal can be identified different costumes with more than one century for ceremonial or quotidian use, indicators of cultural, religious, moral and economic values, labor activity of the area and respective allocation of tasks between men and women. The different forms of clothing influenced by the weather of each region and adapted to the needs of the situation, like the Serra da Estrela shepherd costume and the Póvoa do Varzim fishermen costume. Despite its great importance in the history and culture of the country, most of the regional costumes are now only used for occasional festive events. The shapes and colors of the several regional costumes vary markedly according to the geographical location. Along the coastline there are the strong and bright colors that express feelings of joy, pleasure, desire to live and sense of celebration, even when the man was wearing dark colors, color was introduced on the shirt, belt or sweater. In the country, the costumes were in neutral tones such as browns, blacks and greys with few decorative elements of small dimensions, expressing the hardness of life and work with the strict and cold weather. There are many regional outfits in Portugal, some are still used nowadays, others are used only in important ceremonies and others have fallen into disuse. Here are some examples that have shaped the culture of its people.
In the Minho region we find the so-called "traje à Vianesa" or the "traje à Lavradeira" which can still be seen today in some grand gala festive events such as weddings, worn by girls in some villages of Viana do Castelo municipality. The costume stands out because of its bright colors, blue, yellow, red, green, and is composed by a skirt, jacket, shirt, apron and scarf. In the neck larger or smaller amounts of gold necklaces showed the social status that they were inserted.
The Capa de Honra (Honor Cape) of Mirandela, made in burel (a tightly woven wool fabric), was one of the Portugal noblest costumes and was used only by persons with a favorable economic life standard. Later on would be used by shepherds to protect themselves from the cold, but were capes less worked for quotidian use. The Capa de Honra would give a double sense of duty and honor.
The Alentejo's capote, is still widely used in this region, and is an almost exact replica of the romantic cover of the bourgeoisie. It serves to protect from the harsh winter, and has a deep opening in the back for riding or walking tours. Nowadays there are many foreigners who buy it when they come to Portugal because it is an elegant and sophisticated coat that men and women can have in her wardrobe. The Alentejo and Ribatejo samarra, still used by men and women, it’s a short overcoat used to heat during the harsh winters.
The Capote and Capelo from Azores, dated from 17th century, were executed on silk or wool and consisted of a wide cape and a large hood shaped in card. This Capote, used exclusively by women, served to hide the female figure in the middle of a perverted inquisitorial society.
In the archipelago of Madeira, there are different variations of the traditional costume, evidenced by the different microclimates of the island. The most publicized was used in Funchal, Machico and Santa Cruz, where the feminine costumes were composed by a listed skirt, a corset or a bodice and a cape predominantly in red color and the masculine ones were composed by pants and a white linen shirt with a red stripe. Both man and woman used the same form of footwear and headdress, with botas-chã (boots) to walk better in the steep landscape of the island and beaked headdress.
The fisherman costume of Póvoa do Varzim or Nazaré, the female work costume of Algarve, the shepherd and reaper work costume of Alentejo, the tricana costumes of Coimbra, the seven skirts of woman of Nazaré are among many other examples that mark the history and culture of a people, passing from generation to generation and perpetuating themselves in the festivities of each village.
Popular Saints Festivities
“Santo António já se acabou, O São Pedro está-se a acabar, São João, São João Dá cá um balão Para eu brincar!” (St. Anthony is already over, St. Peter is ending, St. John, St. John Give me a balloon So I can play!) Is the famous melody you hear on every street corner in June during the famous festivals of the Popular Saints. June is a month to go outside and celebrate the saints with lots of sardines, caldo verde, lupins, popular marches and folklore that are part of the festive traditions of Saint Anthony, Saint John and Saint Peter celebrated in respective days 13, 24 and 29 of June. Many cities, towns and villages are filled with colors and animation and fill the streets with tentswith farturas, cotton candy, basil, grilled sardines, and to complete this carousels and entertaining popular marches to celebrate these holidays. In Lisbon you honor St. Antony with sardines and basil, in Oporto and Braga Saint John is celebrated with hammers and leek, in Sintra and in Évora you celebrate St. Peter. The streets are filled with excitement and joy, where everyone participates from the youngest to the oldest, and shared dances and popular delicacies. Also in these days, precisely on the 12th of June in honor of St. Antony the matchmaker and patron of lovers, are celebrated St. Anthony's marriages in Lisbon. Several couples with dreams of marrying without financial possibilities for a well-deserved celebration celebrate together the civil and religious ceremony organized by the Lisbon Municipality, with offers from the municipality and also from various companies as a way to help the new family.
Feast of St. Martin
"On a stormy day Saint Martin, a brave soldier, was riding on his horse when he saw a nearly naked beggar shivering with cold, who handed him a begging and ice hand. St. Martin didn’t hesitated, he stopped his horse, rested his hand affectionately on the poor hand and then cut his military cape in half with the sword, giving the half to the beggar. Despite badly overdressed and raining cats and dogs, he was preparing to continue on his way, full of happiness. But suddenly, the storm broke out, the sky was clear and the sun flooded the land with light and heat. It is said that God, didn’t want the men's memory forget the act of kindness practiced by the Saint, and because of that, every year at the same time, the cold weather stops for a few days, and the sky and the earth smile with the blessing of a warm and miraculous sun." This is the legend that is told about St. Martin, celebrated on 11th of November during winter, but normally the sun shines to happen what is affectionately called the St. Martin's Summer. In this day the tradition across the country is to roast chestnuts and drink água-pé or jeropiga. Among the magustos and wine tastings, festivals abound with popular music, socializing or solidarity offers.
Festivals and Pilgrimages
The best way to be in touch with the culture of a people is undoubtedly through a visit during a local festival or a pilgrimage. The festivals and pilgrimages are numerous and varied in Portugal and happen through all the country, where each city, town or village has its own celebration with a typical trait of his people’s popular culture. These celebrations are part of the traditions and memories of people striving to maintain this current culture with centuries of existence. Pilgrimages are the celebrations in honor of a patron saint, that are complete by two important dimensions: the religious, with their own characteristics as the personal fulfilment of promises and a solemn mass with sermon and procession; and the profane, with the regular presence of the funfairs (some with cattle, assorted goods, amusement equipment, among others), stalls with food and drink, traditional games, concerts and traditional dances. The popular festivals, also numerous in nationwide, have often relation to an event in that place or in a period of certain local products, such as the grape harvest festivals, the flower festival, the cob festival, honey festival, almond flower festival, among many others. These festivals stuffed of joy and animation, are always celebrated in the presence of extraordinary local cuisine, local products, folk music and traditional dances.
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