The very cute photo of the youngsters on the cover of this blog post, and above, is courtesy of the Camara or municipality of Guimarães. The rest were all taken by me whilst we watched the festivities.
The Festas Nicolinas took us totally by surprise. We were sitting at a restaurant in the square and suddenly all this activity happened. Nicolinas refers to the parties of the students of Guimarães, celebrated in honor of São Nicolau de Mira. It is one of the oldest academic traditions in Portugal.
The first reference to the Nicoline Festivities dates back to 1664, the year in which the Chapel of São Nicolau was built in Guimarães.
During these days, students have several “activities” that are part of the structure of the Festival. These are the so-called Nicolinos Numbers. They usually start on the 29th of November and end on the 7th of December.
We saw what was called pine cone or Pinheiro.
One of the unique features is the range of ages of Nicolinos taking part together. Students, old people and youngsters all together. It was such an interesting experience. There is always the classic thundering rhythmic Nicolinas drumbeat known as Torques Nicolinos.
One can also see from the bandages on some of the youngsters wrists below that they take it very seriously. Drumming is very important.
In the Pinheiro, the Nicolinos look for the tallest pine tree in the district of Guimarães. The pine tree is then paraded on ox carts escorted by the drumbeat of hundreds of Nicolinos. The pine tree is then erected on the ground. This denotes the beginning of the Nicolinos festivities.
Another amazing thing was a large recycling truck came through the crowd twice. The crowds parted for it and all cans and bottles were thrown in, so there was no litter on the ground.
We were dumbfounded as it all unfolded in front of us and we thoroughly enjoyed it!
You can read about other things we did around Guimarães here.