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June 15, 2010 > Holy Ghost Festas return

Holy Ghost Festas return

By Alissa Gwynn

The Portuguese Holy Ghost celebrations, or festas, are returning once again to the Tri-City Area. Every year from Easter to Pentecost, Catholic Portuguese communities hold various religious processions, feasts, and special masses in honor of Queen Isabel of Portugal, who was said to show great compassion toward the poor.

This tradition dates back to the 13th century, during which time Portugal suffered a large famine. According to legend, Queen Isabel (St. Isabel) was saddened by her starving subjects and prayed to God for help. One day when she was smuggling bread out to the poor, her husband, King Diniz, stopped her and asked what she had hidden in her apron. She told him she had white roses, even though flowers were extremely rare in the wintertime. However, when she unveiled what she was in her apron-lo and behold-the bread had miraculously transformed into white roses!

Ever since that day, the royals would host a feast once a year where one peasant would be chosen to wear the King's crown for the night. This is where the tradition of choosing "Queens" for festas originated.

Holy Ghost Festas are a tradition brought to the United States by Portuguese mariners from the Azore Islands (a string of nine islands about a thousand miles west of the southwestern tip of the Iberian Peninsula), lured here during the California Gold Rush. Festivities typically feature a special procession, coronation of "Queens" and feasts in which sopas, or beef and vegetable soup, are served.

Locally, the I.D.E.S, or Brotherhood of the Divine Holy Spirit, will host various festas throughout the community. These festas remind us of the rich cultural heritage of the Tri-City area.

I.D.E.S Council No. 14
Sunday, June 20
11:30 a.m. Parade
12:30 p.m. Mass
I.D.E.S. Hall
1105 C Street, Hayward
(510) 581-8518

Festa de Sao Joao
Sunday, June 27
11 a.m. Mass
Bom Jesus Milagroso Hall
21160 Ocean View Drive, Hayward
(510) 581-4034

I.D.E.S. Council No. 1
Sunday, June 27
10:45 a.m.
Noon Mass
Mission San Jose
43148 Mission Blvd., Fremont
(510) 657-9446

Festa de Divino Espirito Santo Parade
S.E.S. Council No. 8
Sunday, July 25
10 a.m. Parade
6430 Thornton Ave., Newark
(510) 793-4062

Festa de Maritimo
Sunday, August 1
11 a.m. Mass
Bom Jesus Milagroso Hall
21160 Ocean View Drive
(510) 581-4034

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