Home Governo de Portugal DGPC Home UNESCO
Versão Portuguesa

Festival of the Trays

Early July, every four years, Tomar holds the traditional Festa dos Tabuleiros (Festival of the Trays).

This festival has its origins in the worship of the Holy Spirit, a great devotion of Queen Saint Isabel, wife of King Dinis, and is strongly rooted throughout the whole national territory but in Tomar it reaches a most symbolic and followed fair. In the adornment of the Trays, houses and streets, one can find flowers, bread and wheat spikes that are typical elements of ancient and traditional crops festivals.
For the Festa dos Tabuleiros, in addition to the traditional Parade, it is also organized the "Procession of the Boys", the "Mordomo" Parade and Partial Parades. The streets decorated by the locals, the street Parties, the Popular Games and the "Peza", illustrate and bring the festival alive for over three days.

In the year that the Festival of the Trays take place, the ceremonies start only on Easter Sunday or Resurrection Day. The ceremonies begin with the departure of a Crowns and Banners parade accompanied by fireworks and musicians.

The Crowns and Banners relate to all parishes in the Tomar municipality. The Procession of the Boys is held on the Sunday before the Grand Parade and only children play a part. The "Mordomo" parade, formerly called the Bulls of the Holy Spirit Parade, is held on the Friday before the Grand Parade. This procession includes ox teams at its head and followed by sets of carriages and horse riders. The town streets are decorated by local inhabitants and at the end an election is held to select the streets with the best decorations.

The Grand Parade takes place on Sunday and the city's window balconies are decorated with gaudy brocade quilts to welcome the procession of trays. The parade always begins with fireworks men clothed in white with a red band, followed by pipers and music bands. There follows the Banner of the Holy Spirit held by the Mayor, and then the guests of honour carrying three Crowns and, finally, Banners and Crowns of all the parishes as well as their duly ornamented Trays carried by coupled pairs. The young women will be wearing white with a coloured ribbon across the chest and place the stacked trays on their heads, while the young men wear white shirts, dark pants, cap on the shoulder and a tie the colour of the girl´s ribbon.
The traditional Tray should have the height of the girl who carries it and it is decorated with paper flowers, wheat spikes, 30 bread loaves of 400g each, stuffed into rods coming out of a wicker basket decorated with an embroidered white cloth. At the top of the Tray, the Cross of Christ or the Dove of the Holy Spirit finishes off a crown. The day after the Grand Parade, tradition implies distributing the bread and meat - "Pêza" - amongst the people of the municipality.

For further details about Festa dos Tabuleiros click here