The June festivities in Portugal are marked by X-sardines, “Valentine’s herbs” and carnival.

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It’s easy to tell that June has arrived in Portugal. Just step out into the streets to see the decorative ribbons and colorful flags hanging everywhere, and smell the scent of grilled sardines wafting through the towns. The most festive month of the calendar is practically a Brazilian carnival, with streets full of music and lots of entertainment, where people of all ages take advantage of the warm days to party.

The June festivities in Portugal are marked by X-sardines, "Valentine's herbs" and carnival.

Catholic influence gives the popular saints’ festival its name, but originally June celebrations were held in regions with pagan traditions to celebrate the start of summer, the season of harvest, abundance and fertility. Today, festivities are held throughout the country throughout the month, with the liveliest nights being the days of Santo Antônio, São João and São Pedro.

The June festivities in Portugal are marked by X-sardines, "Valentine's herbs" and carnival.

Lisbon and the Saint Marieuse Lisbon’s patron saint is Saint Anthony. Although many believe this saint to be Italian, he was born in Lisbon and is celebrated on June 13, the day of his death. To celebrate this date, a free group wedding is organized every year at Sé Cathedral – this year, 16 couples took part in the event. The tradition began in 1958, in the Santo Antônio church, with the wedding of 36 couples.

The June festivities in Portugal are marked by X-sardines, "Valentine's herbs" and carnival.

Another tradition linked to the holy matchmaker is the basil pot (a “relative” of basil), also known as “lovers’ herb”. Indeed, in Saint Anthony’s day, boys used to offer small pots of basil to their girlfriends. This gesture represented a serious commitment and, on receiving the gift, the girlfriend had to take care of the plant for a year, until the basil was replaced by another, also on June 13. In addition to the plant, the vase also bears a paper carnation and a small flag with a popular verse alluding to love.

The June festivities in Portugal are marked by X-sardines, "Valentine's herbs" and carnival.

St. John’s in Porto On June 24, the city celebrates St. John, nicknamed “the apostle of love”. Unlike Lisbon, Porto’s symbol is the leek. Considered a sign of fertility, it was used by men to hit people on the head as they passed in the street. Today, the vegetable has been replaced by plastic hammers, which make a noise every time they hit someone’s head.

The June festivities in Portugal are marked by X-sardines, "Valentine's herbs" and carnival.

Midsummer’s Eve is also marked by hot-air balloons lighting up the city skyline and a 20-minute fireworks display on the banks of the Douro. On June 29, Portugal’s coastal towns celebrate Saint Peter, the patron saint of fishermen, including Torres Vedras, Póvoa de Varzim, São Pedro da Afurada, Montijo, São Pedro do Sul, Sintra and the Azores.

The June festivities in Portugal are marked by X-sardines, "Valentine's herbs" and carnival.

Sardines, fingernails and steaks The menu of popular saints’ festivals is a chapter of its own that deserves to be highlighted. The smell of grilled sardines fills the streets and it’s impossible to resist this fish, which can be served on its own or on bread. The tradition of eating sardines in Santos originated in Lisbon and has taken the country by storm. Small barbecues are scattered around the streets, where sardines are placed side by side to be grilled. The secret is to season them only with coarse salt and place them hot on the grill.

The June festivities in Portugal are marked by X-sardines, "Valentine's herbs" and carnival.

Two other typical and popular dishes are bifanas and pregos. Bifana is a sandwich stuffed with pork cooked with garlic and wine, while prego is stuffed with beef seasoned with mustard or hot sauce. For those with a sweet tooth, don’t miss Portuguese farturas – rolls made from flour, fried in oil and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.

The June festivities in Portugal are marked by X-sardines, "Valentine's herbs" and carnival.

And to drink, plenty of beer and ginjinha, a liqueur obtained by macerating the fruit of the sour cherry tree (similar to cherries), and served in small chocolate cups.

The June festivities in Portugal are marked by X-sardines, "Valentine's herbs" and carnival.

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