Saint Anthony, grilled sardines, popular parades and group weddings

Although St. Vincent is the official patron saint of Lisbon, Saint Anthony was really the saint who won the heart of the Lisboans, if he weren’t already the match-maker saint, the saint of lost things and lost causes and saint who provides health and protection to the young.

As such, in tribute to Saint Anthony, the 13th of June, the date of his death, is a public holiday in the city and, during the day, in the Sé Cathedral, various weddings are held at the same time, alluding directly to the lovers who used to ask him, and still do, for help in tying the knot.

At night, while the popular parades* pass by in the main avenue, the historic neighbourhoods are decorated as tradition demands, smelling of basil and grilled sardines, thronging with lively traditional songs and dances.

And it is precisely during these festivities that the sardine leaps from the grill into the limelight, automatically becoming, alongside Saint Anthony, one of the top pop symbols of Lisbon.

(*) Since 1932 a group of inhabitants from each typical neighbourhood of the capital (around 20) have choreographed popular music created for the purpose, and present it to the public and a jury in the Avenida da Liberdade, the main avenue of central Lisbon. Each group has a male and female sponsor, normally people connected to the arts or television.