Christmas Traditions on Madeira Island

The month of December can be a very busy one … especially for those who are preparing for the holidays festivities and Madeiran traditions. One of these traditions is the Presépio …. which is set up starting from 8th of December. It is the Christmas Nativity with all the usual figurines. You will find it in most homes here on Madeira and also in hotels and restaurants.

A hint: when you come across a Presépio … take a few minutes to contemplate the work and if you see the owner/maker of it, praise their work. If you do this before ordering dinner … you might get a discount.

Presépio

Apart from the Presépio, Madeira also has other Christmas customs … such as Lapinha. Lapinha is a display with the figure of baby Jesus on top of what looks like a miniature mountain. In the middle they usually display fruits and the bottom there are small pots of freshly sprouted wheat. The believe is that the seeds are potted between 1st and 8th of December …. and if the wheat is later planted and grows well, a good harvest is assured. Most Lapinha’s are extended with all kind of toys, miniature village, wooden trunks, stones and plastic animals. Some more elaborate constructions boast even mountains made of hardened, dark paper, and water in form of ponds or even a stream. Sapatinhos (Ladies Shoes orchids) and other flowers are also used.

Other tradition is that on the nine days before 24th of December, devoted Madeirans go to mass (very early) in the morning …. to pray for Mary’s nine months of pregnancy, … and each service is finished with a small get-together in front of the church …. most of the times chanting songs, music and enjoying home-made liquor.

But that is not all ….
The traditional-conscious Madeiran, on New Year’s Eve, carries something borrowed, some coins … and 12 raisins in hand. Equipped with these …. at the stroke of midnight … he/she can make 12 wishes … that might be granted until next December.

These are the traditions I could come up with. If I missed any, then please tell us which one in the comments. Obrigado!

What is an Arraial?

Madeira has various ‘Arraiais‘ all year round. Arraiais are traditional regional festivities that is celebrated with street processions, flower carpets, churches and street decorations with lights, colorful flags, music, traditional folklore, food and drink. Each town/parish has its own Arraial and they can differ one from another. To give you an impression of such an Arraial …. check out the following videos made by resp. Rui Martins and ‘Berdades’.

The Cherry Picker from Jardim da Serra

A beautiful video created by Heitor Rodrigues of a Madeiran cherry picker (apanhador de cerejas) Sr. Agostinho of the village Jardim da Serra.

Enjoy the serenity and un-stressfulness when Sr. Agostinho picks the cherries to sell them at the Funchal Market (Mercado dos Lavradores). Next time you buy and eat a Madeiran cherry …. remember this video.

Vintage Film Madeira 1927 – 1975

VINTAGE FILM MADEIRA – Private collection of Hugo Reis – Year: 1927 – 1975. Production: Hugo Reis (www.hugoreis.com)

Madeira 1927-1975 Islands.Doc Festival

This film will be exhibited at the ISLANDS.DOC Festival
Date & Time: Saturday 21 of May at 15h00
Location: Centro das Artes – Casas das Mudas, Calheta – Madeira.
Click here to see where Casa das Mudas is located

Synopsis:
Hugo Reis was born in Funchal in 1971 and works as a photographer. Through international auctions, private sellers and throughout internet, Hugo Reis has acquired since 1996 films (film reels) related to Madeira. These films vary in their format (35mm, 16mm, 9.5 mm (Pathé), 8mm and Super 8mm).

Aware of the fragility of the film degrading easily over time and the importance of preserving these memories from the past, Hugo Reis proceeded with the digital conversion of about half of his collection (about 30 film reels) in order to preserve them permanently. These digital conversions were made in a proper studio in the U.K. The rest of the collection (about 40 films of various formats) are awaiting the opportunity to be converted in the near future.

Madeira Flower Festival 2011

The theme “The flower that I chose” sets the tone for the Flower Festival of Madeira, which this year is celebrated in the peak of spring. Historically, the flowers are a fundamental feature of the landscape of Madeira.

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Columbus Festival – Festival Colombo 2011

The Columbus Festival was first held in 2000 with the aim of launching a quality cultural tourism offer on the island of Porto Santo. This year it will be held from 15th till 17th of September 2011.

The event is based around the historical figure of Christopher Columbus, who had close links with Madeira both as a sugar trader during the island’s sugar boom years and as the result of his marriage to Filipa de Moniz, the daughter of Isabel Moniz and Bartolomeu Perestrelo, the first Captain-Donatory of Porto Santo, and is held in tribute to the man who became a famous 15th century explorer.

In recent years, the festival has taken on the format of a historical recreation of everyday life in the 15th century, in particular in the period marked by Columbus’s time on the island, which enchants tourists and residents alike.

The programme includes a 15th century fair and supper, the landing of Christopher Columbus, a military detachment, a children’s area with Renaissance games, circus displays, plays, displays by groups of buccaneers and non-stop fun and entertainment including lots of music and European and oriental dances.

The local population and tourists are encouraged to take the part of characters in the festival and period costumes are provided that give an authentic feel to the event.

There are other side attractions taking place simultaneously, including regional gastronomy, crafts and other activities adding to the general bustle amid the historical figures.

Source: Madeira Turismo

This festival needs a better disclosure. Write the dates down in your agenda and visit Porto Santo on those days. It is worth it!

Braguinha de Madeira

Machete (Braguinha) is characteristic instrument of Madeira Island. It is a small guitar with four gut strings that are tuned in thirds, with the exception of the two main strings, which have an interval of a fourth. This instrument is used by farmers at feasts and dance. The music is vulgar in a succession of simple chords, but in the hands of a gifted player, the machete is capable of much more pleasant harmonies, and strangers are sometimes pleasantly surprised to hear the music … in vogue played with considerable effect of an instrument that seems so insignificant. One or two farmers can often be seen on the field after a hard day of work … playing in their favorite instruments. Continue reading “Braguinha de Madeira”

Poncha da Madeira

Poncha da Madeira

The Poncha is a drink originated in India, brought by the British, and adapted by Madeirans. The Indian name given to the drink, namely pãnch, was initially composed by five ingredients: Rice or nut coconut spirit, sugar, tea of fresh herbs, spices and water.

It is believed now that the Poncha has been experienced for the first time outside India, on Madeira Island in the middle of the eighteenth century by the English at that time, during their travels between these parts.

Throughout the nineteenth century the Poncha was a popular drink within the Madeira the more or less wealthy families on the island.

Today, the tradition of Poncha remains very much alive among us, on Madeira, and the instruments used to assist in preparation of these drinks, in essence has not changed much.

In Madeira, this drink was adapted to be used with honey, sugar cane spirit, lemon juice and lemon peel. The Poncha has become very popular due to the fact of being considered a good drink to heal the ills of the throat … has many other things …

When you are on Madeira …. experience a Poncha … and taste the Madeiran culture.

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Festa da Anona

The idea of the Festa da Anona (Cherimoya Feast) was born in 1990, through a group of producers of Faial, that wanted to promote their products (fruit) and thus to call the attention the madeirenses in general.

Anona - Cherimoya

The initial idea was a Regional Cherimoya Exhibition, nowadays also known as the Anona Festival, … which is to be held at Faial (Santana), on the North Coast of Madeira Island. This is an exhibition specially dedicated to this fruit and its derivatives,…. such as liquors, puddings, ice creams and (beaten) drinks. The programme, with the participation of some hundreds of farm owners, … includes music and contests, … with a traditional Madeira flavor.

    The cherimoya (Annona cherimola) is a species of Annona. It is a deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub or small tree reaching 7 m tall. The flowers are produced in small clusters, each flower 2-3 cm across, with six petals, yellow-brown, often spotted purple at the base. The fruit is oval, often slightly oblique, 10-20 cm long and 7-10 cm diameter, with a smooth or slightly tuberculated skin. The fruit flesh is white, and has numerous seeds embedded in it. Mark Twain called the cherimoya “the most delicious fruit known to men.” Source: Wikipedia


Festa da Anona

Related page (most popular): Regional Festivities Calendar