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Join the Portuguese for a festa.

Feed your fascination for other cultures by going to a Portuguese Holy Spirit festival. Whether your name is Silva or

McClanahan, you'll be welcomed. Portuguese Americans from the Azores-many whose ancestors came to the West to fish or farm hold festas (pronounced "fesh-tas") in California, Nevada, and Hawaii. There may be one in your city or town; more than 500,000 Azorean Americans live in California alone.

The festa tradition, which has been observed in this country for about a hundred years, mingles Catholic religious beliefs and ancient legend. Although the sentiment behind festas is the same everywhere, particular customs can differ between communities. The Sunday portion usually starts at 10 A.M., with a parade from the Portuguese hall in town to a church. Other fesh-tivities sometimes including bloodless bulifights-- take place on Friday evenings, Saturdays, and Monday evenings. But for the uninitiated, the

Sunday events are the most interesting.

Appointed festa queens make their way down the parade route towing capes of velvet, jewels, seed pearls, beading, feathers, and appliques (their finery, and other aspects of the festa, recall 14th-century Queen Isabel, a peacemaker and friend to the poor-particularly during a Portuguese famine). A Portuguese brass band or two enliven the atmosphere.

At the church, the costumed parade cast jams into the front pews, and a Mass is said, often in Portuguese. After the Mass, the priest crowns the queen at the altar.

A feast of tradition

The parade then returns to the Portuguese hall, where the new queen releases a white dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, into the air. (The popular belief that a visit from the Holy Spirit is what enabled Isabel to relieve her people's suffering is the subject of several miraculous legends; according to one, the queen, smuggling food to the poor in midwinter, produced live roses from her robes when her husband, Diniz, demanded to see what she was concealing.)

Inside the festa hall, volunteers prepare sopas e carne (beef soup), served free to everyone in the charitable spirit of Isabel. To make the sopas, cows donated by Portuguese community members are slaughtered and boiled for about 6 hours in huge pots (some large enough to hold the meat of entire cows). Added are onions, paprika, cinnamon, cumin, tomato, wine, and sometimes cabbage. The broth is poured over French bread and mint sprigs; the beef is served alongside. Throughout the day, you can usually buy other Portuguese specialties-sweet bread, linguica, tremocos (boiled lupino beans).

After the meal, an auctioneer sells homemade bread, wine, and table linens. Proceeds are used to defray the cost of the festas.

Portuguese music fills the ball Sunday night (or sometimes Saturday), and dancers stamp their feet, spin, and pose according to the calls of the chamarita.

Generally, a community holds its festa at the same time every year-the seventh week after Easter, for instance. Below, we list some of this year's dates. For more information, call I.D.E.S., a Portuguese fraternal organization, at (415) 8865555; or call local chambers of commerce,

CALIFORNIA

April 23: Union City.

April 30: Dos Palos, Lincoln, Santa Maria, South San Francisco.

May 7: Antioch, Arroyo Grande, Crows Landing, Elk Grove, Kerman, Mountain View, Novato, Stratford.

May 14: Buhach (near Merced), Ferndale, Fresno, Half Moon Bay, Hanford, Hollister, Modesto, Newman (Stanislaus County), Redlands, Sacramento, San Diego, San Leandro, San Luis Obispo, Sausalito, Vallejo.

May 21: Arcata, Ashland (San Leandro), Clarksburg, Edna, El Cerrito, Lemoore, Los Banos, Petaluma, San Lorenzo, Santa Clara, Selma, Stockton, Turlock, Watsonville.

May 28: Mountain View, Riverdale, Sebastopol, Stevenson, Tracy, Tulare.

June 4: Manteca, Salinas, Visalia.

June 11: Arroyo Grande, Chowchilla.

June 18: Patterson,

June 25: Atwater, El Cerrito, San Jose, San Leandro.

July 2: Hayward, Livingston, Santa Cruz, Santa Maria.

July 9: Hayward, Manteca, Monterey.

July 16: Gustine, Oakley.

July 23: Benicia, Cayucos, Newark.

August 27: Chino.

September 17: Fort Bragg.

October 1: Auburn.

HAWAII

May 14: Kalihi (Oahu), Kula (Maui).

May 21: Punchbowl (Oahu).

July 2: Kewalo (Oahu).

August 27: Kilauea (Kauai). NEVADA

May 21: Fallon.

May 28: Yerington.

June 4: Lovelock.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Portuguese Holy Spirit festival
Publication:Sunset
Date:May 1, 1989
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