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Saint Stephen feast in Ousilhão

© Paulo Monteiro

Saint Stephen feast in Ousilhão

Ousilhão, Vinhais, December 2018. The “moços”, the piper and the drummer travel trought the streets of the village.

The region of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro is located in the northern interior of Portugal, bordering with Spanish Galicia. In this Marvelous Kingdom, as the writer Miguel Torga called it, we find a landscape of wild beauty and a people proud of an ancestral culture, of which it is a faithful depositary.

Every year, on 25th and 26th December, the inhabitants of Ousilhão, municipality of Vinhais, celebrate the feast of Saint Stephen.

The party has the presence of a king, two vassals, four “moços”, a piper, a drummer and a group of “máscaros”, young people who wear handmade masks representing wild animals and diabolical figures. The masks are made of wood or cork. These figures run through the village, enlivening the party with tricks and mischief, spreading chaos between the population and the visitors. The inhabitants of the village receive them in their houses, with a table well stuffed with food and drink.

The feast of St. Stephen is part of the Christmas cycle or the winter solstice. These rituals are of pagan origins, Roman and Celtic, who celebrated the Sun and Saturn, the god of the agriculture, and the “Juvenálias”, the festivities of the young people.

Ousilhão, Vinhais, December 2018. Two “máscaros” arrive to a meeting point at the village.

Ousilhão, Vinhais, December 2018. A boy, disguised as a “máscaro”, rides his bycicle.

Ousilhão, Vinhais, December 2018. Two “máscaros” arrive to the center of the village.

Ousilhão, Vinhais, December 2018. A boy, disguised as a “máscaro”, travels trough the streets of the village.

Ousilhão, Vinhais, December 2018. A “máscaro” interacts with the photographer.

Ousilhão, Vinhais, December 2018. A “máscaro” to visit a village house.



Ousilhão, Vinhais, December 2018. A “máscaro” disguised as a wolf.

Ousilhão, Vinhais, December 2018. Three “máscaros” travelling through the streets of the village.

Ousilhão, Vinhais, December 2018. A “máscaro” takes a photo of another “máscaro”.

Ousilhão, Vinhais, December 2018. A “máscaro”, the king and the vassals in front of the church.

Ousilhão, Vinhais, December 2018. A group of “máscaros” travelling through the streets of the village.

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Paulo Monteiro
the authorPaulo Monteiro
Paulo Monteiro was born June 1963, in S. Miguel, Azores, where he currently lives and works. He has been a photographer since 1985. He has developed long term projects about various subjects, such as popular religiosity, profane festivities, architecture, landscape, Nature, or the world of work.

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