The Festivals (Festas)
The Holy Ghost Festival...
The Portuguese from wherever they came, have brought their special religious celebrations with them. The largest of all the Portuguese religious celebrations in the United States is the Azorean Festa do Espirito Santo, or Festival of the Holy Spirit, known colloquially as the Holy Ghost festa.
In the Azores, the most important festival for centuries has been the Festa do Espirito Santo. None of the religious holidays, be it Christmas, Easter or Feast of the Immaculate Conception, is observed by Azoreans with the same euphoria the same enthusiam as is registered on Pentecost for the Festa do Espirito Santo.
The festa, insofar as observed by the Portuguese, dates back to thirteenth century Portugal and the bloved Queen Santa Isabel or Saint Elizabeth. The original concept was to stimulate among the nobility the simple virtues of Christian humility and charity, with the nobility and the general populace together attending Mass and afterward sharing a common meal provided by the nobility. There is a different custom for each of the Azore Islands, but the main idea predominates - the rich help the poor and all eat in the open at the same table.
An indispensable feature of the festa wherever it is celebrated is the sopas e carne do Divino Espirito Santo, or soup and meat of the divine Holy Spirit, or soup and meat of the divine Holy Spirit, commonly referred to as sopas. Basically, it consists of bread over which a beef gravy is poured and marinated beef. Farmers donate cattle to be prepared for the sopas. Another typical food of the festa is massa sovada, or pao doce, a sweet bread baked under a variety of recipes. One version is sold in supermarkets as "Hawaiian Bread" but few agree that it's the same as the Azorean pao doce.
This festa is celebrated every year on Pentecost Sunday (approx. 7 weeks after Easter Sunday). The celebration is held in the Pocket area of Sacramento at S.P.H.S.S. Hall. Mass is celebrated in the Chapel on the grounds.
The Festival of Our Lady of Fatima - Festa da Nossa Senhora da Fatima
On May 12, 1917, a series of events began in the small village of Fatima in Continental Portugal that would affect the entire world: the apparitions of "Our Lady of Fatima" . From May 13 through October 13, 1917, a series of monthly apparitions occurred in the small village in central Portugal, north of Lisbon. It is said that Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, appeared to three small Portuguese children to ask them and the whole world to pray for peace. The apparitions received worldwide publicity and at the last apparition on October 13, 1917, tens of thousands of pilgrims witnessed the "Miracle of the Dancing Sun" in which the sun was said to spin and dance in the sky. Devotion to the Madonna, which was already strong in Portugal, became especially intense.
Festivals in honor of Our Lady of Fatima began to appear throughout the Portuguese and non-Portuguese world alike. The two Sacramento organizations that celebrate this festa are the Sodality of Our Lady of Fatima, based at St. Elizabeth Church which is composed mostly of Azoreans; and the Irmandade da Nossa Senhora da Fatima #1 (Brotherhood of Our Lady of Fatima), whose membership is mostly Continentals and which has its own hall at 2117 Fifth Street. The two Sacramento Fatima festas share a lot of similarities, including a dinner, candlelight procession through the streets of Sacramento, praying of the Rosary, religious songs in honor of the Madonna and services at
St. Elizabeth Church.
The St. Elizabeth Fatima Festa is celebrated on the weekend falling the closest to October 13th and the Irmandade Festival follows two weeks later.
The St. Elizabeth Festival
The St. Elizabeth Festival is the annual Parish fundraising Festival. It can be one or two days. Usually consists of dinner on Saturday evening including octopus stew, pork bufano sandwiches and linguica sandwiches along with some entertainment. Sunday is lunch and an auction. The Sodality sells filhos (a Portuguese donut). Everyone is welcome.