Festa das Tochas Floridas

Celebrating life at Easter!

I cannot think of a better way to celebrate Easter than to attend the enormous street party that is Festas das Tochas Floridas, in São Brás de Alportel.  At around 5 in the morning the process begins of laying more than 3 tons of petals and flowers in a winding carpet through the centre of town.  More than a kilometre in length, by 9.30am the streets are ready to be opened to an excited public.  Yet another year in which this small town in the Eastern Algarve opens its arms to the world, to join in a celebration of Christ’s resurrection.

Nobody is left out!  From tots to teenagers, young adults to us older generation, all are welcome to come and participate.  I join the earlybirds in the streets, marveling at the patience and imagination, the pure creativity that has gone into making this a joyful day.

The Easter Day service takes place at 10.00 in Igreja Matriz in Largo São Sebastião, and while this is happening the streets begin to fill.  Faithful and simply curious, no-one is turned away.  I wander, camera in hand, along with many others.  Most, but not all, are respectful of the flowers and the occasion.  Needing 10 minutes peace before the procession begins, I retire to a back street for coffee.  There I observe a mini procession, of the young men from all over town, bringing their flower torches to assemble at the church.  Full of smiles, they are happy to pose.

Patterned bedspreads flutter from open windows as the excitement builds.  In front of the church a little jostling for position begins, and television interviews are held.  This is São Brás’ big day!  A last few stragglers with flower torches make their way through the crowd, the congregation leave the church and try to find a vantage point, and suddenly it all comes together and the procession begins.

Led by the priest and clergy, they wend their way slowly into the streets.  Everyone cranes to get a good view, but only the hard of hearing could miss the choruses of ‘Hallelujah’.  Every few yards they pause, the flower torches are brandished high in the air, and accompanied by a rousing chant.

I watch, spellbound, as it moves past me, hardly aware of what I might have captured on camera.  But there are ample opportunities for photographs on this day.  It takes around 2 hours for the entire circuit of the old town to take place, and I join and rejoin the procession at different intervals throughout the streets.

There are so many wonderful moments!  The small child hoisted on Dad’s shoulders, just a little tired and bored for the ‘selfie’; fathers, sons and friends embracing and beaming at their shared memory; and that young man in the band with the shy smile, who reminds me so much of a Polish nephew.  I love it all!  And it’s been a privilege to relive it with you.

A nicer person you will not meet in the blogging world than Ann-Christine, or Leya, as her blog is known.  Why that name, I often wonder?  The only one I know of is a princess in the Star Wars movies.  Not only does she find time to co-host the Lens-Artist’s Photo Challenge, but she also goes out of her way to congratulate me on being featured in Discover.  I might not otherwise have realised, despite the hike in my stats, so thanks, hon, and many thanks to WordPress too.

I hope you enjoyed sharing Creativity with me.