Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 14.COM 10.B.30

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that Portugal has nominated Winter festivities, Carnival of Podence (No. 01463) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

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.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   The Carnival of the Caretos of Podence involves all the inhabitants of the small village of Macedo of Cavaleiros. Its transmission occurs primarily in the home environment and it provides a sense of belonging, cultural identity, group integration and community unity. It is a time for community celebration and the reunion of families and friends. The practice also functions as a reference to the community’s historical past and as an important symbolic marker of cultural identity. The evolution of the element and spontaneous reactions to the changing social and economic environment demonstrate that the Carnival of Podence is a living form of cultural heritage, continuously evolving in direct interaction with the practitioners and their needs.

R.2:   The inscription of Winter festivities, Carnival of Podence would reinforce the existing visibility of intangible cultural heritage and stimulate inventorying initiatives, particularly of other masked winter rituals and festivities. It would also raise awareness about the importance of the development of safeguarding measures. Furthermore, the inscription would enhance national safeguarding efforts, particularly in relation to the role of the national inventorying registry process, and raise awareness of the social significance of intangible cultural heritage and its importance in contemporary societies. Finally, it would enrich the range of celebrations already inscribed on the Representative List through the addition of a community cultural celebration that promotes the integration of men, women and children and supports the confirmation of their cultural identities in society.

R.3:   The community of Macedo of Cavaleiros has made many efforts to safeguard the carnival, strengthening its organization since the 1980s and engaging in a major effort to promote it. The proposed safeguarding measures would further strengthen these existing measures exponentially through four clear objectives. This is developed in a coherent manner based on a set of feasible activities that were defined and discussed by the community of Macedo of Cavaleiros.

R.4:   The community was fully involved in all stages of the nomination process. It is worth highlighting that the nomination is part of the safeguarding process and that it was the community that requested it.

R.5:   The Winter festivities, Carnival of Podence was included in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2017; it is updated at least every ten years. The inventorying process was initiated by the Group of Caretos Association and is described as marking a further step in the safeguarding process. The General Directorate for Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture is the office responsible for maintaining and updating the inventory.

  1. Decides to inscribe Winter festivities, Carnival of Podence on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the State Party, and especially the community of Macedo of Cavaleiros, for submitting an exemplary nomination, showing how a small community can take responsibility for its intangible cultural heritage through a fully community-based approach and explaining how gender roles evolve in response to social and economic changes.