Festival of the Trays (Festa dos Tabuleiros) - Tomar - Portugal
One of the most important harvest festivals in Portugal is the Festa dos Tabuleiros (Festival of the Trays) that takes place every four years, in July. It's an event based on ancient pagan rites linked to fertility. The parade and blessing of the trays, and the decorations in the streets are an unforgettable spectacule.
With very remote origins, where we can guess fertility cults, this festival is one of the most profound demonstrations of popular religiousness in Portugal. For over six hundred years the city of Tomar has celebrated the Festa dos Tabuleiros in token of thanksgiving for harvest foods.
The main feature of the celebration is a magnificent procession of six hundred girls selected from Tomar and surrounding communities. The girls wear huge headdresses constructed with small loaves of bread and adorned with flowers. According to old people, in gone times the flowers were real. Now they are made of colored paper, a wise provision, surely, for a four-day festa.
Each "tray" (Tabuleiro) weighs about thirty-three pounds and is the height of the girl carrying it. It's made up of thirty rolls of bread, each weighing 500 gr., set on five or six rows of canes. The base of the tray is a basket, covered by a white cloth with lace edging, in which the canes are fixed. Alternating with the bread are rows of paper flowers and sheaves of wheat finished off by a large painted tin crown topped by a dove or the Cross of Christ.
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Contest: Harvest Festivals Around the World
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