Festivals of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres – Ponta Delgada
The most important religious festivities in São Miguel and, as far as number of participants, the biggest festival in the Azores islands are held on the fifth Sunday after Easter. The festivities known as Festas do Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres (Lord Holy Christ of the Miracles) date back to the end of the 17th century with the fame of the miracles obtained through the intercessors of the Senhor Santo Cristo (Lord Holy Christ), whose image is venerated in the Convent of Nossa Senhora da Esperanca. The endless procession, which comprises of thousands of faithful who come mostly from every island in the Azores and the Azorean communities spread throughout the world, dates from that period and nowadays still follows the same itinerary which covers a large part of Ponta Delgada. At festival time the town is decorated with arches and other fascinating illuminations. The streets where the procession is to pass are covered by painstakingly decorated carpets of artistically laid out flowers. The blessing of the bread and meat distributed among the needy on Saturday marks the start of the festivities, followed on Sunday by the procession with the image under its famous baldachin decorated with flowers. To the devotion shown by the faithful must be added the conviviality and joy of the lighthearted part of the festivities: complete with fireworks and music played by dozens of bands. Ponta Delgada is transformed into a town full of color and animation during the six days the festival lasts.
Festas do Espirito Santo – Holy Ghost Festivals
Of Medieval origin (13th A.D.) they are some of the most traditional expressions of devotion. In São Miguel Holy Ghost (Espirito Santo) festivals are held on Sundays from April to June. Presenting different characteristics from island to island and from village to village, the festivals common features are the coronation of the “emperor”, the feast day on which the offerings of bread, meat, and wine (called “pensions”) are distributed among the needy and the “brothers” of the “empire” and the “jesters” who, with their musical instruments and songs, recall age-old customs. The most colorful festivals of the Holy Ghost take place at Rabo de Peixe, with ox-carts decorated with fanciful ornaments made of colored paper, and at Ribeira Grande where girls march in a procession carrying trays on their head with the “pensions” of the “brothers” of the Holy Ghost.
Romeiros – The Lenten Pilgrims
During the seven weeks of Lent, groups of men walk round Sao Miguel in a chanting meditative state led by a “master” stopping only to pray next to the churches and chapels dedicated to Our Lady. Eight days later they return to their home villages, where they are received by the local inhabitants of the parish and where a festival is held in their honor.
Cavalhadas – St. Peter’s Cavalcades – Ribeira Seca
Ribeira Grande and Ribeira Seca are a stage for the Cavalhadas (St. Peter’s Cavalcades). A “king” or headman, knights, lance’s, stewards, and trumpeters dressed in white with red capes and sashes mounted on splendid horses ride through the streets in the morning of St. Peter’s day, June 29th, repeating ceremonies whose origin is lost in time and which recall the tournaments of knighthood. A colorful spectacle which heads toward the center of the town of Ribeira Seca and has its culminating point at the church of São Pedro when the “king” greets the saint in verse and makes his horse place its front hoofs on the door of the church.
Senhor dos Enfermos – Procession of Our Lord of the Sick – Furnas
The streets, covered with petals laid out in artistic designs, are the scene of the procession. The carpets of petals display all the hues of the flowers of the Azores. The procession is held on the first Sunday after Easter.
São Miguel – St. Michael’s or Labor Procession – Vila Franca do Campo
A throw-back to the Middle Ages, this procession features groups of craftsmen where each profession gathers around the litter bearing their patron saint. The colors of the surplices worn by the participants define their profession. This splendid and long procession takes place on the Sunday following the 8th of May.
Festival of Bom Jesus da Pedra – Good Lord of the Stone – Vila Franca do Campo
The outcome of this festival is when the image of the Bom Jesus (Good Jesus) is carried Saturday evening to the church of São Miguel. It is returned in procession to the church of the Misericordia on the last Sunday in August.