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Macau needs “to live the São João festival”

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Portuguese delicacies, folklore music and the famous grilled sardines are back in the old neighborhood of São Lázaro. Between Saturday and Sunday, the São João Festival will take center stage in the district, with multiple stands offering diverse Portuguese products. According to the president of the Macanese Association (ADM), Miguel de Senna Fernandes, “Macau needs to experience the São João festival, so it has to be organized as a street party, allowing more people to feel its characteristic atmosphere.”
The São João party is a Portuguese Catholic celebration in honor of St. John the Baptist. Widely celebrated in Porto, a city in the north of Portugal, this festivity is all about tradition: launching hot air balloons and jumping through smalls fires are just some of the examples from past years.
In Macau, São João will be celebrated for the seventh consecutive year in the São Lázaro neighborhood. However, Miguel de Senna Fernandes stressed that “the party is being organized with a few limitations, as the priest of the São Lázaro church didn’t allow ADM to organize the festival using the churchyard area.”
This has been a constant issue.“It has happened throughout the years. In some cases the priest has allowed us to set the stage in the churchyard, and in other years he hasn’t,” de Senna Fernandes said in a press conference held on Wednesday.
Amélia António, the president of Casa de Portugal (House of Portugal), also shared her concerns regarding the priest’s decision. “Not allowing us to use the churchyard has made things more difficult, as we had to modify the nature of some performances. For instance, the Young Group of Performing Arts need a larger stage for its act and now they will have to dance around the streets, where the conditions aren’t the best. We had to gave up on a few performances that required another type of stage,” she admitted. António added that parties are always a bit noisy and any inconvenience the festival may cause “would still happen whether it is held around the streets of the neighborhood or making use of the churchyard.”
Nevertheless, Miguel de Senna Fernandes emphasized that “the party is due to happen” with or without the churchyard. “There will be noise, liveliness… and rain! Rain is already a part of this festival. It is the fate of São João in Macau,” the president of ADM enthused.
For this year’s festival, the association managed to get official support from the Directorate of Tourism Services, which will be represented at the party with its own stand. Miguel de Senna Fernandes emphasized that “the tourism office gave São João festivities its full support for the first time and they will participate in the festival to promote their services.”
This year, the emphasis is on traditional products from Fundão, a city in central Portugal. The region is widely known throughout Portugal for its famous cherries. With a growing reputation, the cherries are now used in various recipes, from pastries to savory dishes. One of the latest products is the “Pastel de Cereja do Fundão” – a cake similar to the well-known Portuguese custard tarts (Pastel de Nata), with the addition of cherries. Amélia António said the festival “will have a stand with local products from the Fundão region, such as the traditional cheeses, cherries, pastries and charcuterie.”
Miguel de Senna Fernandes confirmed the association aims to continue organizing the São João festival “in this emblematic neighborhood.” During this weekend, the festival will feature more than 20 stands with Portuguese products, all crowding the streets of São Lázaro. The program also includes performances by two DJs and local bands such as “João Gomes” and “Tuna Macaense.”
Staff Reporter

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