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S Joao 2017 (Porto)

Hi everyone.

Porto has already started the warmup for the S Joao Festivities. While not as ribald as Rio Carnival, the Festival of John the Baptist is Portugal’s very own love-themed holiday that has evolved into an excuse for lavish feasts and dancing in the streets. It’s one of the most underrated street parties in Europe and, while it’s not well known outside of Portugal, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the revelry.
For six centuries, the night of June 23rd (and well into the next morning) has been dedicated to this celebration of love, a nod to St. John and a re-creation of an ancient pagan courting ritual. The elements of sun and fire worship were likely appropriated from various pagan rites, paying tribute to the summer solstice. The origin of the tradition of beating the one you love with plastic hammers, leeks, and cloves of garlic, however, is apparently unknown. The Festa de São João is recognized in Brazil, Quebec and Newfoundland, but it’s Porto that takes it to the next level.
In June Protected content , a journalist from The Guardian commented that "Porto's Festa de São João is one of Europe's liveliest street festivals, yet it is relatively unknown outside the country". (see the whole story @ Protected content .

As a Porto lover, S João for me always meant a lot of things, since I was a small kid. With different scents and tastes, S João is the Summer X-mas for Porto. All the families will gather around a brie and have sardines, corn bread, green peppers and red wine. Everyone will launch their paper hot air balloons into the air and the skies will be filled with flying balloons. I can only recall Loy Krathong or New Year’s Eve in Thailand where the skies and lovely with so many balloons in the air. Because it’s allowed, people will throw their own fireworks around 22:00 to 23:00 as another warmup for the midnight monumental fireworks the city hall prepares each year – and yes, each year these fireworks amaze everyone with the magic of fire, music, and lasers all orchestrated in a way to make everyone who look into the sky and were lucky enough to get a good spot. The free concerts by the city hall also attract people by the hundreds to dance and sing. Everywhere you go, you’ll hear the sounds of the S Joao hammers. These battle of hitting everyone to wish good luck fills the ears with its distinctive sounds. Instead of hammers and my personal favorite is the garlic flowers, where you try to put it in front of you “opponent’s” nose. All in the name of good laugh, no one will miss interpret it.

The complete festivities program can be checked here: Protected content

1.Monumental fireworks attract thousands to Ribeira (by the Douro river) next to Luis I bridge. Go early to get a good spot.
2.There are traditional concerts in every parish in the city, but downtown is where all the people go. Just dance with your beloved… Or some old lady/man will pick you for a dance.
3.Buy your S. João balloon(s) in advance. It’s very easy to launch them and even if you’re afraid, a lot of “brave souls” will help you out if necessary. All you need is a lighter.
4.You’ll be able to find restaurants all over selling sardines (the typical S João food). Even in the streets.
5.Buy your hammer(s) or garlic flower(s) and have tons of fun with everyone around you.

If you still have any questions, ask away.

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