So Joo Festival: The Eve of St. John's Feast Day

So Joo Festival: The Eve of St. John's Feast Day

June 23
June 23, the eve of the Feast of St. John the Baptist, is celebrated each year in Porto, Portugal, with a curious ritual. Festival-goers tap each other on the head with plastic hammers or leeks. Some say the gesture indicates romantic interest, others claim it brings good luck to the recipient. The custom can be traced to the 19th century, when long-stemmed garlic flowers were used in mid-summer games, and in turn, to pagan times. Indeed, the fireworks, music, all-night dancing, and colorful processions that feature on St. John's Eve are more closely allied to pagan summer solstice rituals than religious observances. A large amount of wine is drunk, and grilled sardines are consumed. The festival is also known as "So Joo," which is an anglicized form of the Portuguese words for Saint John.
CONTACTS:
Porto City Council Tourist Office
Rua Clube dos Feniaos, 25
Porto 4000-172 Portugal
www.portoturismo.pt