The Pilgrimage of S. João is a popular saint in Porto, like S. António is in Lisbon and S. Pedro in Vila Nova de Gaia. S. João is also known as lover saint or as matchmaker saint.
And the Pilgrimage of S. João is coming on June!
The Pilgrimage of S. João is celebrated in several Portuguese cities, Braga, Póvoa do Varzim, etc, but the city where the celebration is bigger is in Oporto, and makes 24 June is holiday.
Although S. João Baptista is considered by many the “popular saint” of Invicta, the official saint of Oporto is Nossa Senhora da Vandoma. But On the night of June 23, people come to streets to celebrate and we can find a lot of grilled sardines, bread, caldo verde, peppers and wine!
Everyone comes out. The very old, the very young, all really all get out of the sofa to go out and party. It doesn’t matter if it is hot, cold, raining… people come out of their houses.
One of the basil of the Pilgrimage of S. João and one of its symbols, is the hammer, a colorful plastic hammers or garlic flower, used by people to hit (gently) on the heads of others. Hot air balloons made of paper are other attractions that illuminate the skies on the night of S. João.
The S. João waterfalls, a kind of animated nativity scene, made with sculptures that exemplify the arts, crafts and architecture of Oporto are another feature of the city’s party in honor of S. João.
The Pilgrimage of S. João biggest party is on the historic area of Oporto, but is celebrated in all city. Thousands of people walking through the streets and seeing the fireworks launched along the Douro river on the banks of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia and then the traditional Bailarico – live music.