A trip to the land of Azorean Mini-Santas / Event recommendation for visitors in december
During my first year living at the Azores I realized that the good people inhabiting these islands use every opportunity to celebrate. With Christmas approaching there are more and more enjoyable events to attend for both my family and myself. One of these events was the march of preschool and elementary school aged children dressed as Santa Claus in Riberia Grande. Something that I love about the Azores: the festivals and other celebrations are organized so that they encourage children, teens, and the elderly to actively take part in the event. I have read about this event a few days ago on a Portuguese website (many thanks to the best Portuguese teacher Krisztina and her language course Facebook page – also my new year’s resolution is to focus on learning Portuguese), and what I understood was that there will be lots of people dressed as Santa, and it takes place in Riberia Grande.
If I am not mistaken, Riberia Grande is the second most populated city on Sao Miguel island, with a beautiful plaza and church in the middle of downtown. Upon arrival we immediately noticed the very impressive nativity scene installed in the park overlooking the sea. In my opinion this nativity scene is only surpassed in beauty by the one in Furnas. Most residents of the Azores are Catholics, so they keep a lot of wonderful Catholic traditions. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post about Azorean Christmas traditions – to be published before Christmas Eve. Make sure to check the Eden Azores Facebook page or Instagram account so you won’t miss a post. But now, let’s get back to the Santa Claus festival. So far all festivals I attended had the following lineup: first came the children, then the youth, and at last come the elderly. At this festival however the procession was led by a beautifully decorated car with a few Mini-Santas and of course, also with „real” Santa on board, and they were followed by children from all the different schools, all dressed as Santa, led by their teachers. And we have been waiting for the adults and the elderly, but the tiny Santas just kept coming and coming until our eyes could see.
The procession ended on the steps of the church Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Estrela with a fascinating sight of around 2000 Mini Santas standing next to each other. We realized there was a small show for the kids about giving presents, starring the christmas elf. A dance choreography performed by school-aged children received a standing ovation. The show, which lasted bit over 30 minutes was very sweet and enjoyable – even for us adults. I have never in my life seen so many Santas in one place. This event is hosted in Riberia Grande every year, in 2017 it was on the 15th of December. Apart from being a travel journal entry, this post is also an event recommendation for everybody visiting Sao Miguel in December – especially for hobby photographers. Take a look at the photos, ask questions, and tell me about Your Santa Claus experience this year in the comments – here, or on Facebook. For me, this has definitely been the most memorable Santa encounter – most of all, because when I wanted to have my picture taken with a little Santa girl, she gave me a hug and did not want to let go. She was so precious. So join me next year and behold this wonder: Christmas party with 2000 children in 20 degrees Celsius weather.