Winter festivities, Carnival of Podence

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Inscribed in 2019 (14.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Village Boy & Blaster Image Works, 2018

Winter festivities, Carnival of Podence is a social practice which initially functioned as a rite of passage for men. Now extended to women and children, it has been readjusted to its contemporary context. The festivity is associated with the celebration of the end of winter and the arrival of spring and takes place over three days in the streets of the village and in the houses of neighbours who visit each other. During the performance, the Caretos – modelled on the traditional masked character – dance around women with their cowbells, rhythmically moving their hips. Possibly connected symbolically to old fertility rites, this action is performed by those behind the mask as a way of interacting with others anonymously. The Caretos wear tinplate or leather masks, costumes covered with colourful wool fringes and small bells. On the Monday night, there is a theatrical play, when a group of men announce a fictional list of engaged couples, satirizing them and eliciting collective laughter. On Shrove Tuesday, some people mask themselves as ‘matrafonas’, a masked character from rural carnivals. On Tuesday afternoon, the ritual of the burning of a Shrovetide figure takes place, and the group of Caretos then goes around the homes of friends and relatives. Participation in the Carnival begins during childhood, and the activities of the Group of Caretos Association have considerably boosted opportunities for transmission.

Making a Careto of Podence costume
Making a tinplate mask painted in red for a Careto of Podence
Dressing up Caretos costumes
A group of young girls in Caretos costumes in the Carnival of Podence
Caretos are invited to taste the homemade wine of those who still produce it in the village
Some people also dress as 'Matrafonas' in the Carnival of Podence
During Carnival a theatrical play also takes place, in which fictional engagments between the single men and women of Podence are announced
A Careto embraces and dances around a young woman, the most characterisc performative behaviour of this masquerade costum of the Carnival of Podence
The caretos take to the streets on Fat Sunday and Shrove Tuesday, they jingle, shout and frighten, jumping and running frantically around the village streets
Conviviality amongst neighbours and families plays a big part in Carnival of Podence. The Caretos are welcome to enter every house of the village on Shrove Tuesday evening