Something is happening in Furnas – How does the city of Furnas prepare for the Feast of Saint Anne?
Like in all cities – and also in Furnas – if there is one person who knows about everyone and everything: it is the hairdresser. I have met Bruno over a year ago, and in my opinion he is the best hairdresser in Furnas. When I have been to his salon the other day I also asked him what is this hustle and bustle, what is happening in Furnas.
I have already seen the posters advertising the Feast of Saint Anne. Also, the week before I noticed that the Saint Anne Church in the city center has been decorated with white and yellow flags, and that there are a lot of busy workers all around the city: renewing the road signs, the bus stops, making a new fish pond in the park – so something must definitely be going on here!
Here are some pictures of the preparations. iPhone photos by @azorieden.
But what is this festival all about?
Bruno told me that the main day of the festival is Sunday, when the people of Furnas (number of inhabitants: 1400) decorate and cover all streets with flowers – they are actually creating flower carpets. Every year, the Feast of Saint Anne is observed on July 26th. Because of the way the calendar rotates, it is most often observed during the week. This year however, the feast is even more special because it falls on a Sunday.
During the procession, the Saint Anne statue – which normally resides in the Saint Anne Church – is carried on the shoulders of citizens of Furnas. The carriers are followed by the children, the men, the women, and finally the policemen and the firemen of Furnas. The music will be provided by a local orchestra. The church will be decorated with multi-colored fairy lights.
According to Bruno, the flower decoration activities start at 3pm. The feast starts at 5pm and continues all night long The festival starts with the Feast of Saint Anne (on Sunday, 26th of July) and goes on until Tuesday, the 1st of August.
Tuesday is the day dedicated to Saint Anne. Saint Anne obtains numerous favors to those who dedicate Tuesday to her honor. Therefore, on Tuesday the good people of Furnas will enjoy their traditional dish, the Cozido, on the shores of Lake Furnas. I still need to find out more about this event, but it sure sounds delightful.
I will report on the festivities next week on the blog. For everyone who is currently visiting the Azores, I highly recommend attending the Feast of Saint Anne and the other festivities.
And finally, what do we need to know about Saint Anne?
Saint Anne, of David’s house and line, was the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus according to apocryphal Christian and Islamic tradition. In writing, Anne’s name (which means: grace, gracious, mercy) and that of her husband Joachim (meaning: established by God) come only from New Testament apocrypha, of which the Gospel of James (written perhaps around 150) seems to be the earliest that mentions them. Saint Anne’s parents were named Stollanus and Emerentia, and they lived in Betlehem.
Saint Anne was born in Bethlehem and became the wife of Saint Joachim from Nazareth, in Galilee. Joachim was a shepherd, given the responsibility of supplying sheep for the temple’s sacrifices in Jerusalem. They were both of the royal House of David, and their lives were wholly occupied in prayer and good works.
One thing only was lacking in their twenty years of marriage – they were childless, and this was held as a bitter misfortune among the Jews. This misfortune is illustrated by what happened when Joachim wanted to offer a gift of sacrifice in Jerusalem, only to be turned down by a priest named Issachar, who said a sacrifice cannot be accepted from a sinner. Being childless war considered a sin in those days.
They spread their wealth into 3 parts: one part they kept for themselves, one part they gave to the church, and one part they gave to the poor. Anne, who was inconsolable about being childless, promised to dedicate her child to God if she ever becomes a mother.
Joachim is said to have fasted in the desert, in order to plead with God for a child. After a time of fasting, an angel appeared, assuring him that he and Anne would be given a child, whom they would name Mary and dedicate to God. The angel also said the child will be filled with the Holy Spirit. As a proof of his word, he suggested that Joachim immediately goes to Jerusalem to thank God, and that at the Golden Gate of the church his wife will appear without knowing that he would be there – because an angel appears to her, too. And this is exactly what happened, Joachim and Anne met at the Golden Gate, prayed to God and returned to Nasareth.
As promised, Anne had a child whom they named Maria. The parents kept their promise and when Maria turned 3, they dedicated her to the church. Joachim died shortly afterwards. Anne remarried and had a daughter named Maria from her second husband, Cleopas. After the death of Cleopas Anne got remarried again to a man named Solomon, from whom she also had a daugther called Maria.