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.

Source: Wiki­pe­dia

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