The Festa dos Tabuleiros

When: In July 2015

Where: Tomar, Portugal

The Festa dos Tabuleiros (Festival of the Trays ) is also known as the Festa do Espírito Santo (Holy Spirit Celebration). This is one of the most important celebrations in Portugal. It takes place in Tomar the city of the Templars located in the center of Portugal every four years during the month of June or July. This celebration has ancient origins.

The name of the celebration reminds of the trays carried by 400 girls, who parade around the streets of Tomar with a tray over their head. The trays are decorated with the symbols of the Holy Spirit: on the top there is a pigeon and the crown, and from  the top to the bottom, 30 loaves of bread, colorful paper flowers (generally field poppies) and ears of corn. Girls wear white dresses. The headdresses are designed to be balanced on the girls’ head for the entire parade. The parade lasts for six hours and each headdress weights about 15 kg. There is another curiosity, the tray carried by each girl,  has the same height as the girl who carries it.

During the procession there is a shower of flower petals and houses are decorated with different and various quilts hanging from the verandas.

The festival is composed of several moments:

  • O Cortejo das Coroas (Procession of Crowns)

This procession is followed by the Mass of the Holy Spirit with seven crowns that symbolize the seven days of the week;

  • Cortejo dos Rapazes (The Boys Procession)

There are little girls in this procession who wear white dresses with a colorful ribbon round their waist and carry their own tabuleiros. They are accompanied by little boys in black trousers, white shirts and a tie in the color of the ribbon used by the little girl next to him.

  • O Cortejo do Mordomo (The Butler Procession)

In this procession the cattle is decorated with flowers and parade along the streets. During the procession there are fireworks and music.

  • Cortejo dos Tabuleiros (The Main Procession)

This is one of the most important processions, there are  two long lines of young women, each of them with her tabuleiro on the top of her head,.

  • Bodo ou Pêza

It’s the sacred meal of the last day of the celebrations when meat, bread and wine are shared among the poorest people.

The last festival was held in 2011 and attracted over 600,000 visitors from around the world. The next festival will be in July 2015.

 Girls with trays A yellow paper flower