Today is a Municipal Holiday here in Porto, São João. It is in tribute of St. John the Baptist, the city’s patron saint. The festivities start in the afternoon of the 23rd of June and it’s one of the best street festivals in Portugal. It’s roots lie in pagan rituals where people were hit over the head with garlic flowers, which have now turned into plastic hammers.
For weeks leading up to the festivities you can see “Manjerico” (a basil related plant) being sold all over the city (along with the plastic hammers). The traditional meal for the evening of the 23rd will be barbecued sardines, caldo verde (a pototoe & cabbage soup), meats and Broa (our local type of cornbread). As the evening progresses the populations released flame-propelled baloons into the air which liven up the night sky.
The city of Porto also puts on an amazing pyrotechnic show over the River Douro between Ponto de Arrabida and Ponto Luis I around midnight, which they set up in the middle on the river on boats specifically prepared for this. All of this to the sound of specific music, I believe this year it will be Rock music.
As I work in Maia, I don’t get this day off, so I don’t tend to go out in the evening of the 23rd to party, also the fireworks scare the dogs.