(Photo, 1928 “Holy Ghost Festival” outside the old Catholic Church in Half Moon Bay)
“Tradition cannot be purchased
Like a set of dishes,
Or a kitchen appliance.
Heritage must be preserved;
Often it must be rescued.
Or it must be created.”
–Mrs. Carolyn Cunha Granelli, 1921 Half Moon Bay “Chamarita” Festival Queen
The Chamarita’s warm atmosphere marked by spirited dancing, a colorful parade, sumptuous barbecue feast and auction have always been open to all comers.
But its heritage was born in tragedy.
The Holy Ghost Festival traces its origins to the 13th and 14th centuries when a violent earthquake and volcanic eruption shook the Azore Islands, located 1000 miles away from the Lisbon home of Portugal’s Queen Isabel. But nature was not finished with the small islands. Following the natural disasters there was drought, crop failure and finally a cruel famine that broke the people’s faith. In their desperation and suffering, they gathered together to pray to the Holy Ghost for help.
Their prayers were answered, and what followed was a miracle. A ship arrived at Port of Fayal on Pentecost Sunday, laden with food that fed the famished and restored the people’s faith.
When the good news reached Queen Isabel, she organized a solemn procession in honor of the Holy Ghost. Accompanied by her maids, the Queen carried her Crown through the streets of Lisbon to the Cathedral, placing it on the altar as an offering of thanksgiving for the favors the Holy Ghost had bestowed upon her people.
…to be continued…