In this Catholic country, where saints and demons live side by side, every town has a patron saint and a devilish way to celebrate it.
Porto is under the protection of Saint John. Yearly, people honor him in the evening of the 23rd until the next morning.
The city becomes a flaming barbecue of sardines offered to all those empty stomachs with no altar and a few euros on their pockets. The best way to sacrifice the fish is to have it laid in a piece of gem bread, covered with some sliced grilled green bell peppers and drown it in caldo verde.
Every neighbourhood, from Ribeira to Foz, takes part in the celebrations. Families and friends gather to eat, drink and dance popular songs all night long. Some of the most traditional participants will be seen holding a leek flower in their hands instead of the ubiquitous plastic hammer, definitely a much more delicate and aromatic experience. If you're single and and you wish to fully comply with the leek tradition keep it behind your door after the party and "the one" may come.
Prior to the tradition's christianisation in the 14th century, herbs belonged to a pagan tradition used to praise the Sun and Fertility.
The city skies are lit all night long with an array of fireworks.
A cornerstone of Saint John’s is releasing paper balloons into the open air. It's no job for a single person. You should be in a group and all of you should ask for a wish while waiting for the balloon to warm up and rise. Then watch the fragile paper capsule elevating and joining other light dots with the same mission.
It’s around midnight that fireworks will take everyone’s attention. When the time approaches you’ll see the fast paced crowds heading to the river to guarantee the best spots near the D. Luis bridge where the instalment takes place.
Beware on your way, in some places you’ll still find some bonfires to jump over.
A traditional gift to relatives and friends in this occasion is a potted basil. You’ll remember its strong scent too (if you don’t stand too long next to a fried pastry stand).
You'll never forget that ride in a shock kart in the night Porto didn't sleep and neither did you. Most of the time laughter will be imposed.
You'll come back to revive these future memories and we will be Flattered. to welcome you, with or without Saint John.