Easter is one of the most important holidays for the Portuguese. During Holy Week (Semana Santa) in this devoted Catholic country, visitors can see numerous religious processions and traditions, observed all around Portugal.
In most villages, Easter celebrations happen in local churches. On Easter Sunday, a procession goes along the streets in every city and town, greeting people on Christ's resurrection. In some villages, you can see small processions called "compassos" going to people's homes with a figurine of Jesus, bringing joy and blessings.
The Easter festivities in Portugal include many special dishes and treats. In addition to the traditional cod on Good Friday, Easter Sunday is all about the roasted lamb. Folar de Pascoa is a special Easter bread that has to be on all tables. It symbolizes the bread of the Last Supper before the resurrection of Christ. Folar de Pascoa is usually served as a sweet dish, but in some regions, it includes sausages, ham, or meat. In the Algarve, the Folar reminds a cake with several layers of melted caramel and cinnamon.
Easter events in Braga
The most mystical processions take place in Braga, where the celebration dates back to the 4th century, and the Archbishop washes the feet of twelve people, representing the twelve apostles. Every day of the Holy Week in Braga is marked by a religious ceremony. Upto 100,000 people attend main processions in the city.
The largest processions take place on Palm Sunday. It's the Procession of the Palms, starting at 11 am at Seminar Church and Steps Procession (“Procissão dos Passos”), which starts at 9:30 pm near Santa Cruz Church. Washing of feet and Mass of the institution of the Eucharist (Lord's Supper) takes place on Thursday ar 9:30 at Mercy Church. Good Friday brings in “Teofórica” and Lord's Burial's Procession, which starts at 9:30 pm from Se Cathedral. The final Resurrection Procession takes place on Saturday night before Easter.
Easter events in Loulé
One of the biggest processions in the country is the Festa da Mãe Soberana (Feast of the Sovereign Mother) in Loulé, Algarve region. This massive religious gathering honors the town’s patron saint, Nossa Senhora da Piedade. TFesta da Mãe Soberana usually lasts for two days. Festa Pequena is held on Easter Sunday and Festa Grande takes place 15 days later.
Thousands of people flock to Loulé to watch the procession, which lasts for about an hour before the mass at 6 pm. The route goes along Rua de Nossa Senhora da Piedade towards São Francisco Church. The end of the procession is marked with fireworks!
Easter events in Porto
The main religious events in Porto start with the procession at Nossa Senhora da Esperanca church, held on the second Sunday before Easter. At 3 pm on Good Friday, Porto hosts the Way of the Cross procession, reenacting how Jesus Christ was tortured and crucified. The public can be immersed in a solemn and mourning atmosphere, watching a man dressed like Jesus, carrying a wooden cross, recreating the Passion of Jesus.