The village of Cidões has just 20 inhabitants. It’s located in Trás-os-Montes, in the northern inland of Portugal. Every year, on the Saturday after 31 October, the village celebrates the Festivity of the Goat and “Canhoto”. The “Canhoto” is a tree trunk that is burned in the bonfire that burns during the festival in the centre of the village.
This is an ancient ritual of Celtic origin. It was originally called “Samhain” and was the most important Celtic celebration in the whole of Europe until their conversion to Christianity. It was with this festival that the Celtic New Year began, with the start of the dark season. This festival came to be known as Halloween. In Cidões, it’s called the Festivity of the Goat and “Canhoto”.
In the morning, a few men from the village prepare a meal of goat meat, which is cooked for hours in iron pots. At 7 p.m., the festival begins, most of which takes place in the centre of the village. The giant star is lit and the bonfire is lit with the “Canhoto” placed in the centre.
The Celtic procession starts through the village streets towards the festival site: a druid, goddesses, bagpipers and Celtic dances.
At 11 pm, the Cabrão, or giant goat, a sculptural figure 7 metres high, is burned. At around midnight, the Devil rides down the village streets to the festival site in an ox cart pulled by local men. The ox cart has its clutches tightened to make the screeching sound more frightening. After the Devil goes round the festival grounds trying to scare the participants, he is expelled by the Druid, only to return a year later. Until then, the village will be protected from all evils, envy, misfortune and bad luck.