22 June 2012

Summer festivities in Madeira

Since our early years as a nation, almost nine hundred years ago, we Portuguese were always voyagers. Although immersed in a strong cultural identitarian bond, for us the physical Portugal was always to small. It was and it is home, granted. But just not big enough for the dreamy people living in it. So, after the independence in 1143 and the unification of the nation in 1249 we ended up in a dead alley with nothing more to do. I guess those following years were quite depressing, with everybody looking to each other, searching for answers to the question "what shall we do now?".
So we packed our bags and started the Discoveries, following Mark Twain's advice that traveling was mortal for the vices. That decision made us a country of emigrants, right in the fifteen century.
From those days on, our diaspora led us to the far corners of the world. First to Africa, Asia and Brasil, during our golden age of maritime expeditions. And finally, in more recent times, to the central Europe, to the United States, to Canada, to Venezuela and to South Africa.
These two later countries, in particular, are home, for decades, of a well established Madeira community.
And once every year, normally during the Summer months, many of these compatriots return to Portugal to see their loved ones, family and friends. It's a time full of popular festivities, many of them also included in the catholic tradition.
It's a season of joy in Portugal. From the North to the South. In Madeira and in Açores. Those three Summer months are, for many people, the best part of the year. And their homeland makes the best to welcome them.
Here, in Madeira, those days already started. With the small (and not so small) towns all over the island competing for the more beautiful street decoration and for the biggest religious procession.
Arco de São Jorge is a small village on the North coast of Madeira´deservedly proud of her Summer festivities.
A couple of years ago, while driving around, looking for photo opportunities, I had the good fortune of arriving there while the decorations were being made and placed all over the streets.
Particularly, the flower tapestries placed on the roads, although not originals to the village, took my breath away.
The streets of Arco de São Jorge, during a Summer festivity. Picture taken with Nikon D40X.
Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G kit lens.
Post-processing with Adobe Photoshop CS3.
Building the flower tapestries takes some time and dedication...
Picture taken with Nikon D40X.
Nikkor AF-S 55-200mm 1:4-5.6G kit lens.
Post-processing with Adobe Photoshop CS3.
... but the results can be astonishing.
Picture taken with Nikon D40X.
Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6G kit lens.
Post-processing with Adobe Photoshop CS3.
The Catholic Church has a very important and secular presence in our Portuguese identity. Madeira is no exception. Many of the Summer festivities in Portugal are religious ones. Mostly celebrating the patron saint of the villages and towns.
The religious procession is a very important part in all those celebrations. Like here, in Arco de São Jorge.
Picture taken with Nikon D40X.
Nikkor AF-S 55-200mm 1:4-5.6G kit lens.
Post-processing with Adobe Photoshop CS3.