Feast of the Holy Ghost

Holy Ghost, Feast of the

March-July
Holy Ghost Season, or Altura Do Espírito Santo, has been celebrated in the Azores, Portugal, since the late 15th century. There are actually two types of celebration: the bodo, "banquet," and the função, "function." Bodos are held in rural ImpÉrios —lavishly decorated buildings that are vacant all year except during the festival. The bodo is a large-scale public festival that includes a mass; a children's procession; the ceremonial distribution of meat, bread, and wine; and a number of other activities including an auction, singing competitions, and bullfights.
The função is a small-scale celebration held in private homes. It represents the payment of a personal promise to the Holy Ghost and consists of a series of ritual exchange events, culminating in the coronation of an emperor, the distribution of gifts to the poor, and a communal meal.
Although Holy Ghost season falls primarily between Easter and Trinity Sunday, urban ImpÉrios have extended the season to July so the same festival props—such as crowns, flags, and other costly items—can be shared among the various regions. Although observation of the feast has nearly disappeared in continental Portugal, it has been carried to Brazil, Canada, Bermuda, and the United States by Portuguese immigrants.
The Holy Ghost celebrations are based on the story of Queen Isabel of Portugal, who loved the poor and pleaded with God to help her starving people. When two ships laden with cattle and grain miraculously appeared in a Portuguese harbor, the Queen served a banquet to the poor and continued this yearly ceremony as an expression of gratitude to God.
See also Divine Holy Spirit, Festival of the
CONTACTS:
Portuguese National Tourist Office
590 Fifth Ave., 4th Fl.
New York, NY 10036
800-767-8842 or 212-354-4403; fax: 212-764-6137
www.visitportugal.com
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, DC 20540
202-707-5000; fax: 202-707-8366
www.loc.gov
SOURCES:
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 333
GdUSFest-1984, pp. 88, 156
IntlThFolk-1979, p. 311
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