Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Festa do Espirito Santo

2010 Festa do Espirito Santo
Click here to see more photos

This weekend, June 6 and 7, will be the Festa do Espirito Santo (The Holy Ghost Festival), an event that the Portuguese American community of San Benito County holds every year. This traditional Portuguese festival is celebrated by Portuguese communities throughout the world on Pentecost Sunday.

The celebration honors the life of Queen Isabella, the wife of King Denis who ruled Portugal in the late 1200s. At the time, a severe drought caused widespread famine. According to one story, Queen Isabella snuck out food from the palace to feed the people. One day, with her apron full of bread, King Denis stopped her and demanded to see what she was hiding in her apron. She opened it to show red roses, which was considered a miracle because it wasn't the season for roses. From that point, Queen Isabella decided to have masses to maintain the faith of the people through the bad times. On Pentecost Sunday, ships sailed into the Lisbon harbor full of of grain for everyone.

The local Festa do Espirito Santo will begin Saturday night, 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM, with a dance and the crowning of Queen Isabella at the SDES Portuguese Hall on 695 Seventh Street. The following morning, the annual parade will start at 10 AM in front of the hall. The parade will go up Seventh St. to San Benito Street, turn at Fifth Street and head down to the Sacred Heart Church. A traditional mass will be held, including the serving of complimentary sopas. After the mass, the festival will continue at the hall. 

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