São João de Braga
São João de Braga is the oldest Sanjoanina festival in Portugal and is undoubtedly the most popular festival in Portugal! It is celebrated during the month of June and commemorates the birth of Saint John the Baptist. The highlight of the festivities is on the night between 23rd and 24th June.
If there is a characteristic that distinguishes the festivals of São João de Braga from the other Sanjoanina festivals in Portugal, it is their history, so ancient, grand and memorable, made by the people of its community!
The tradition started in 1150, when a church dedicated to São João was founded in the city of Braga; it was however during the 16th century that the festivities of São João established themselves and became one of the festivals that attracted most people, especially in terms of the number of spectators.
With activities where the profane merged with the religious, the Race of the Black Pig became one of the most important moments in the calendar of Sanjoanino of Braga. The masquerades and biblical dances were added in the18th century,.
Historically, two important and simultaneously held pilgrimages were celebrated in braga since the mid-19th century: São João da Ponte and São João do Souto
During the first event, the main characteristic was the holding of a free fair, which took place in the surroundings of the chapel of São João. The second event added to the usual religious celebrations a procession, where the Sanjoanina procession with the Dance of King David and the Shepherds' Cart are the protagonists.
Increasingly attractive to the community of Braga, but also to outsiders, at the end of the 19th century the city of Braga unified the two Sanjoaninas festivities, and in 1983, a commission was designated to take charge of the event and to ensure the perpetuation of the festivities of São João de Braga.
The festivities of São João de Braga are now the biggest festivities in the city of Braga, thanks to the involvement of the City Council and the Commercial Association of the city, seeing the number of events, institutions, people involved and spectators increase year after year.
You can see more photos of all the events of São João de Braga on this link: :