The festivities of popular Saints date back to pre-Christian times; Ancestral peoples of Europe celebrated the summer solstice, as a way of asking the pagan gods for the fertility of the soil, men and animals. With Christianity, the rituals of pagan cults were replaced by the festivities of popular saints: Saint António, Saint João and São Pedro, celebrated respectively on the 13th, 24th and 29th of June (Algarve Imaterial, 2022).

Saint António – Born in Lisbon and baptized with the name Fernando de Bulhões, he joined the Franciscan Order, adopted the name António and dedicated himself to preaching the scriptures, which he knew so well. He left for Italy and, years later, at the day of his death – 13th of June, the date was marked in memory of the Saint/Matchmaker of the whole world (Bernardo, 2005; 2007; Armstrong & Peterson, 2010).

Saint João – Born near Jerusalem and is mentioned in the Gospels of the Bible. Unlike Saint António, June 24th marks the date on which João Batista was born, his birth being considered a miracle, as reported in the book of Luke, in the Bible. Although the festival is big in Porto, this saint is not the patron saint of the Invicta city, but rather Nossa Senhora da Vandoma. Although the celebrations are better known in Porto, they are also held in Braga, Almada, Angra do Heroísmo, in the Azores, with parades, marches, floats, dances and dancers (Weiser, 1958).

São Pedro – known as one of the apostles of Jesus and as the Catholic Church first Pope. Thus, it began to be celebrated on the day that is believed to be the anniversary of his death, São Pedro’s Day and also Pope’s Day. In Portugal, the festival takes place in several cities, such as: Sintra, Évora, Póvoa de Varzim, Montijo, Castro Verde, São Pedro do Sul, Seixal, Macedo de Cavaleiros, Ribeira Grande, Felgueiras and Bombarral (Weiser, 1958).

In Faro, there were many places where the festivities of the Santos Populares took place. Traditionally, bonfires constituted the great ritual of devotion; in them, single girls would consult the saints, about the future. The streets are decorated with masts, paper flags and balloons, while the sound of folk music fills the air and savory aromas of the typical cuisine travels the paths of this yearly celebration.

Algarve Imaterial. (2022). Santos Populares. Accessed on 17th February, 2022. URL:

Armstrong, R. J., & Peterson, I. J. (2010). The Franciscan Tradition: Franciscan Tradition. Liturgical Press.

Bernardo, L. M. (2005). Histórias da Luz e das Cores, volume 1. U. Porto Ed. Universidade do Porto.

Bernardo, L. M. (2007). Histórias da Luz e das Cores. Volume 2. Porto: Ed. Universidade do Porto.

Weiser, F. (1958). Handbook of Christian feasts and customs: The year of the lord in liturgy and folklore. Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York.