São João aka Saint John the Baptist, is the patron Saint of the city, and it is celebrated on the eve of 24th June, the longest night in town, when thousands of people gather in the city centre or in the more traditional neighbourhoods to pay a tribute to the Saint.
This year, the century-old tradition of street parades did not take place as the Municipality of Porto cancelled official festivities due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, the Municipality urged people to take the party home.
Celebrations were held in private gatherings not to jeopardize the valiant efforts by the population of Porto and the Northern region that have been able to control new outbreaks of the novel coronavirus.
Indeed the population of Porto and of the neighbouring municipalities literally "fizeram das tripas coração", which is the same as to say that "they pulled the Universe out of their souls" to garner determination and still be able to joyful celebrate one of the most memorable evenings in Porto, but this time in everyone's and each veranda, patio, terrace or windows.
St. John's festivities have been held in the city for more than six centuries. However, it was during the 19th century that this day stands as a landmark in the city's culture and tradition and is experienced by both residents, tourists and visitors each year, celebrating São João Programme, carefully prepared and revamped each year.
So, we invite everyone to keep in mind that the streets of Porto will be filled with joy and excitement again to celebrate São João, and every plaza and street corner in Porto will serve traditional folklore dancing, broiled sardines, "caldo verde" (typical Portuguese soup) topped with cascades and happy people, as we are Porto.
"I returned to a long strand,
the hammered curve of a bay,
and found only the secular
powers of the Atlantic thundering.
It said, 'Lie down
in the word-hoard, burrow
the coil and gleam
of your furrowed brain.
Compose in darkness.
Expect aurora borealis
in the long foray
but no cascade of light.
Keep your eye clear
as the bleb of the icicle,
trust the feel of what nubbed treasure
your hands have known."
BY SEAMUS HEANEY