Feast of Trays

The Feast of Trays is the most important celebration of the city of Tomar, Portugal and one of the largest and oldest in the country, the Festa attracts more visitors in Portugal, around half a million people only on the day of the Court of the Tabuleiros. It is also considered one of the biggest Festivals in the World, having acquired international status and fame, being nowadays one of the cultural icons of Portugal. Also known as the Feast of the Holy Spirit, it is held every 4 years at the beginning of July.
The most characteristic feature of this party is the Parade or Procession of the boards, which represent the parishes of the county and runs along the streets of Tomar for 5 km, flanked by the quilts that the population leaned out the window, and the thousands of visitors who come to be dazzled by this profusion of colors.

Traditionally, the board is carried by a girl dressed in white and must have the height of it. This is decorated by colored paper flowers, ears of wheat, 30 loaves of 400gr each, stuffed into reeds that come out of a wicker basket evolved by an embroidered bench cloth. The top of the board is still composed of a crown surmounted by the Cross of Christ or the Dove of the Holy Spirit.

Traditionally, the board is carried by a girl dressed in white and must have the height of it. This is decorated by colored paper flowers, ears of wheat, 30 loaves of 400gr each, stuffed into reeds that come out of a wicker basket evolved by an embroidered bench cloth. The top of the board is still composed of a crown surmounted by the Cross of Christ or the Dove of the Holy Spirit.

Another of the oldest and original traditions of Tomar present at the Feast of Trays, are the rugs of paper flowers on the streets of the city. The streets of the historic center and nowadays all over the city are decorated with flowers giving color and joy to the templar city. Recently, at the end of the century, XX, the decoration of the streets with mats of flowers of Tomar began to be replicated by other festivities throughout the country, although with a rather smaller dimension.
On the day after the procession, the Pêza tradition continues, which consists in the sharing of bread and meat by the people.

It is believed to be one of the oldest celebrations of our country, dating back to the feasts of the Emperor, instituted by D. Dinis and Queen Santa Isabel, in the framework of the cult of the Holy Spirit. They also have to do with ancestral practices of handing over the firstfruits to Ceres Goddess and celebrating the fertility of the earth. And there is a more recent component, also present in the Azores Festivities, with its Franciscan inspiration, the equal celebration of fraternity and the sharing of the fruits of the earth: the bodo and the common supper. According to some authors its origin is in the harvest parties to the goddess Ceres.
It should be noted that Tomar was Templar headquarters, and the Temple order was always accused by the inquisition of doctrinal deviations, if not heresy, until it was extinguished by Pope Clement V in 1307.

The symbols of the Holy Spirit are well present on the high table that the girls carry in the cortege: at the top the dove and the crown and from top to bottom the canes stuck in cane (to which miraculous virtues were attributed), paper flowers (traditionally, poppies) and even ears.

In century XIX are references to the parties of the Holy Spirit, and until 1895 the annual courtship to Friday, by heights of the day 20 of June. After 1914, it was made on Sunday.

The old tradition of oxen sacrifice, whose flesh would later be distributed by all (as it happened in the boulder after bullfighting), remained until 1895. As of 1966, the oxen of the Holy Spirit returned to the procession, but now only with symbolic functions.

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Feast of Trays