Portugal’s Sao Joao Festival, One of Europe’s Quirkest Events

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One of Europe’s liveliest festivals, yet one of the least known, is Jao Joao Festival which is in Portugal‘s second largest city of Porto. Saint John, the patron saint of lovers, watches over as the town gets all lit up, decked out, and the good food flows like sweet Port wine.

The festivities have been held in the city for more than six centuries, yet it was during the 19th century that Saint John’s day became impregnated in the city’s culture and assumed the status of the city’s most important festival. An interesting tradition among the people of Porto during the ‘Festa de São João’, with roots in pagan courtship rituals, is to hit each other either with garlic flowers or soft plastic hammers.

The event starts early in the afternoon of June 23 and usually lasts until the next morning. The traditional attractions of the night include street concerts, popular dancing parties, jumping over flames, eating barbecued sardines and meat, drinking wine and releasing illuminated flame-propelled balloons over Porto’s summer sky.

At midnight the partygoers make a short break to look at the sky at Saint John’s fireworks. The event has sacred roots but is also mixed with pagan traditions, with the fireworks embodying the spirit of tribute to the Sun. You can also  order grilled sardines on the street among other fabulous food delicacies.

Photo credit: QuirkyGuiide.

Renee Blodgett
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Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
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