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.

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