Think of us as a merry group of party crashers. All around the islands, one cannot escape the felling of celebrating something, somehow, somewhere in any given weekend. It’s all about celebrating. And, considering our history, we do have a bit of things to be grateful for.
Since a couple of centuries back, we have had a long line of disasters happening all around us, whether they are from the core of the earth or from the up and above skies, or even from all the fronts of our beloved Atlantic Ocean, we have come to terms that, in some way, we will get hit by Nature and we have to celebrate the fact that we are capable of overcoming our own personal or our regional’s resilience.
Naturally, I cannot run from the fact that most of these celebrations are from a religious background. Azorean people are a really religious, God abiding people and we come with all these traditions and notions intricate in our system — even those, like me, that do not profess it. But our traditions have taken a toll. When you consider the fact that our younger generations are just religious for the sake of celebrating it as a common backyard or a fraternity party, one realises that they are celebrating the traditions not because of what they have stand throughout the times but for some other peculiar reason, the feeling of celebration gets lost. It’s just an ordinary thing.
I will not dwell on the ‘who is right and who is wrong’ thing. But, the fact is, even though I, myself, am not a religious person, I get along with some traditions due to family ties. I use those moments as a time to celebrate the get together and the enjoyment we experience with each other’s company in the troubled days we are living, all around the world. My generation has never gotten that “carpe diem” sense as we having now. So, no matter who is right or wrong, the fact, you may say, is a consequence of our fast and progressive live. It is what other generations have said in the past: each generation will lose and gain things from the previous and for the next. I understand that. But the nostalgia of looking into a procession and everyone would take care not only on their apparel but on their position within the walking, the proud and commitment sense of being part of a community celebration, the “being” there is no longer, I feel. When you are doing the procession and you are carrying our cell phone and radio gadgets to be connected to Facebook or to the football match that is on, you have lost it all. And, again, I’m not religious — imagine if I were…
Throughout our islands, every civil parish is celebrating its patron. Along with that comes the cleaning of your house, the trimming of your garden, the preparations for the Sunday lunch (usually with lots of food, drinks and deserts), the putting up the flag(s) on your doorstep and the going and comings of chopping down some cedar tree branches and a lot of hydrangeas for the flower street carpet. While growing up, those where the things that made me conscious of these festivities and almost nothing compared to the all through the night smell of the stepped on flowers. Naturally, these days, we dye wood dust and sweep it, almost the second the procession is out of our house’s perimeter. But there are those that literally just put on the street a decent size carpet and some greenish to box it. It’s so easy and faster that when the saints go over and through it you just collect the carpet, shove it and it is ready for next year. So easy…
Year in, year out, these are the things we do. It’s a roll of celebrations, each on its owns terms and traditions; each traditions broken a bit more than before, but the picture remains the same: the islands live of a procession of processions and the new economics thank us for that.