Community festivities in Campo Maior


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Inscribed in 2021 (16.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© David Mira, 2015

The Community Festivities of Campo Maior is a popular event during which the streets of Campo Maior in Portugal are decorated with millions of paper flowers in various shapes, colours and patterns. The community, which is organized in street commissions, decides the date and develops the concept of the decorative elements and the colour theme. Members then work on the decorations over a period of nine months. Preparations typically take place at night, in homes or in storage areas. The practice strengthens creativity and community belonging, and there is a sense of a friendly competition between street commissions to see which street will have the most original and colourful design. The decorations are thus kept secret until the eve of the festivities, when the town is completely transformed overnight. The result is the creation of a colourful, festive town, with open doors and no social distinctions. On the day of the festival, the community fills the streets. The Community Festivities started as a religious celebration called ‘Festivities in Honour of St. John the Baptist’. Although they haven’t had that title since 1921, the saint’s presence still endures, with his image carried through the streets in a small procession. The practice is transmitted within families and in schools.