The origin and symbolism of the Festa dos Tabuleiros in Tomar

The origin and symbolism of the Festa dos Tabuleiros in Tomar

The Festa dos Tabuleiros, one of the oldest cultural and religious events in Portugal, has its roots in agricultural celebrations in honor of the goddess Ceres and, later, Queen Santa Isabel, who founded the Brotherhoods of the Holy Spirit.

The Brotherhoods of the Holy Spirit celebrated Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles, granting them the gift of tongues.

This gift allowed them to express themselves in different languages, thus enabling them to preach and share the word of Christ with a wider audience.

In the past, both the rich and the poor celebrated Thanksgiving in Tomar, specifically on Pentecost’s Sunday.

Although time has passed, the tradition is still alive in the city. Preparations for the party begin well in advance, the year before it takes place.

A public meeting is called to decide whether the party will be held next year and to choose the responsible Butler.

When the meeting is over, if it’s decided that the party will be held, three rockets are fired, marking the start of preparations for the big event.

From that moment, the work for the celebration begins, including the meticulous making of the flowers that will be used to decorate the streets and the trays.

In addition, the festivity is a strong candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Want to know more about one of the most popular events in Portugal? Then read on and find out more about this important celebration in Portugal.

Festa dos Tabuleiros: Find out more about this traditional Christian festival in Portugal

The Festa dos Tabuleiros is an event of great importance and deep symbolism in Portugal. Held in the city of Tomar, the festival dates to centuries of tradition and has cultural, religious and community meanings that make it unique and special.

This festivity is celebrated every four years, involving the entire local community, and attracting visitors from different parts of the country and even abroad.

The symbolism of the Boards, which give the party its name, is one of the most striking and significant features of this event.

The trays consist of tall, elaborate structures, usually made of wood, adorned with colorful flowers, and stacked bread.

Each tray is carried by a young woman who, traditionally, must be single and wear a typical costume of the region. The women’s balance and skill in carrying these impressive structures is fascinating.

The tradition behind the trays is related to abundance, generosity and sharing.

The stacked loaves represent abundance and prosperity, while the flowers symbolize beauty and renewal. These elements are carried in a gesture of offering and gratitude for the harvest and the blessings received.

In addition to the meaning of the Trays, the Festa dos Tabuleiros also has a strong religious context, being held in honor of the Divine Holy Spirit and Queen Santa Isabel, as explained earlier.

The feast is a moment of devotion, prayers, and celebration of faith, with religious processions and special masses. The community gathers to express their devotion and share moments of spirituality.

Discover some fun facts about the Festa dos Tabuleiros

As we have already said, the festivity is one of the most anticipated and important in Portugal. No wonder it brings with it some unique characteristics. Are they:

Impressive structures

The Boards are the main structures of the party. They are tall buildings decorated with flowers, where wheat bread is stacked. These structures can reach up to two meters in height and weigh about 20 kg. It is an impressive spectacle to see the girls carrying these trays with poise and skill.

Women as protagonists

The party is marked by the participation of local women, who carry the trays in processions through the streets of Tomar. They are selected for this role and must meet certain criteria, such as being single and wearing traditional dress. It is an opportunity for young women to play an important role in the celebration.

Blessing of the Loaves

During the feast, the trays are blessed in a religious ceremony. The stacked loaves represent abundance and divine blessing. After the blessing, these breads are distributed to the population as a symbol of sharing and prosperity.

Religious processions

The Festa dos Tabuleiros is marked by several religious processions. The streets of Tomar are decorated with carpets of colorful flowers, forming paths for processions. People gather on the sidewalks to watch and follow the moments of devotion and faith.

The parade of trays is the highlight of all festivities in Tomar.

However, there are other traditional ceremonies such as the Cortejo das Coroas, Cortejo dos Rapazes, Cortejo do Mordomo, the arrival of the Oxen from Espírito Santo, the Partial Processions and Popular Games.

Templar influence

Tomar has a strong connection with the Knights Templar, and this influence can be seen in the party. The city is home to the Convent of Christ, a Templar fortress that became an important pilgrimage site during the Festivity of the Tables.

Economic and tourist impact

Finally, the festivity attracts many visitors and has a significant impact on the local economy. During the event, the city receives tourists from all over the country and even abroad, boosting local commerce, hotels, and gastronomy.

These are just some curiosities of the rich universe of Festa dos Tabuleiros in Tomar. As you see, this celebration is a living testimony of history!