The Feast of the Trays is the most important celebration in the city of Tomar, Portugal and one of the largest and oldest in the country, being a party that attracts more visitors in Portugal, only about half a million people in the Tray parade day. It is also considered one of the biggest festivals in the world, with acquired status and international fame, being today one of the cultural icons of Portugal. Also known as the Feast of the Holy Spirit, it takes place every 4 years, in early July.
The most characteristic layout of this festival is a Parade or Procession of the trays, which represent the town’s freguesias and travel the streets of Tomar for 5 km, flanked by the bedspreads that the population hung to the window, and the thousands of visitors who come to be dazzled by this profusion of colors.
Traditionally, in the feast of trays, the tray is transported by a girl dressed in white and will have to have the height of it. This is decorated by colored paper flowers, ears of wheat, 30 loaves, of 400gr each, in the cannons that leave a wicker basket that has been developed by an embroidery cloth. The top of the board consists of a crown crowned by the Cross of Christ or the Dove of the Holy Spirit.
In addition to the Parade, the Feast of the Trays is made up of various traditional ceremonies such as the Courtship of the Crowns, the Courtship of the Boys, the Courtship of the Bite or the arrival of the Bois of the Holy Spirit, the Partial Courts and the Popular Games.
Another of the oldest traditions and originally from Tomar present at the Festival of the Boards, are the carpets of paper flowers on the streets of the city. The streets of the historic center and today a little throughout the city are adorned with flowers giving color and joy to the Templar city. Recently, at the end of s. XX, the decoration of the streets with flower carpets from Tomar began to be replicated by other festivities throughout the country, although with a much smaller dimension.
On the day after the Courtship, the tradition of the Pêza that consists in sharing bread and meat by the populations is still maintained.
It is believed that it is one of the oldest festivals in our country dating back to the emperor’s festivities, 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 delivering the first fruits of the crops to the Goddess Ceres and celebrating the fertility of the land. And there is still a more recent component, also present at the Fiestas de las Azores, with its Franciscan-inspired, equal celebration of the fraternity and distribution of the fruits of the earth: the common and dinner. According to some authors, its origin is found in the harvest celebrations of the goddess Ceres.
It is noted that Tomar was a Templar headquarters, and the order The Temple was always accused of 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 board that the girls carry in the procession: at the top the dove and the crown and from top to bottom the loaves in the cane (at the that miraculous virtues were attributed), paper flowers (traditionally, poppies) and, in addition, spikes.
In the nineteenth century there are references to the feasts of the Holy Spirit, and until 1895 the annual courtship was made on Friday, by heights of June 20. After 1914, it became Sunday