Easter in Terceira

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Ostatnia aktualizacja: 2020-04-23. Autor: Milena

This is my fourth Easter on Terceira

You sometimes ask me what Easter on Terceira looks like. I will tell you that it’s quite similar to the one in Poland. It’s primarily a religious but also a family holiday. It’s time to meet in a large group, with loved ones.

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Paschal Triduum

Easter is a religious holiday, the most important in the Catholic Church. So it is celebrated above all in the church.

Maundy Thursday – memory of the Last Supper

On Maundy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated. It reminds us of the Last Supper and the establishment of the sacrament of priesthood. The rite of washing the feet, in turn, evokes the commandment of love. At the end of the mass, the Blessed Sacrament is moved from the altar to another secluded place.

Good Friday is a holiday in Portugal

Also in the sense that it is a day off from work. Can you imagine my surprise when in 2017 I went on Good Friday in search of a sour rye soup to an international store and this one was closed? Can’t you imagine? Then try to find this sour soup on Easter Monday. Impressions will be similar. Yes, except that in Portugal no one heard about this soup and the international store was my last resort.

Traditionally, Good Friday applies „jejum e abstinência”, meaning fast and abstinence. What do they mean?

Fasting means limiting the amount of meals consumed. It is now said that you can eat one full meal and small amounts of other meals. Abstinence is the quality limitation of meals consumed, with an indication of avoiding meat. Fish are allowed.

(It is interesting that, according to the Church in Portugal, abstinence from meat affects all Fridays of the year, but I haven’t met yet a Portuguese who would comply. In fact, I haven’t met yet a Portuguese who would even know this recommendation. But everyone is surprised that such a tradition is respected in Poland).

On Good Friday, the faithful also try to maintain abstinence from other meals and activities that may please them.

Good Friday is a day without a mass. Instead, the liturgy of the word and adoration of the cross as a symbol of Christ’s death take place. And late in the evening – Via-sacra, i.e. the Way of the Cross on the streets of the city or village.

Holy Saturday – without blessing eggs

In Poland, Holy Saturday is associated with the preparation of Easter eggs and blessing of baskets. In Portugal, the Azores, Terceira – there is no such tradition. Holy Saturday is a day of silence, without a mass.

Only in the evening, after dusk, do the faithful go to the most important Eucharist in the liturgical year – the Paschal Vigil. The Paschal Vigil. consists, like in Poland, of four liturgies. These are:

  • liturgy of light – a sign of joy; as part of this liturgy, fire is blessed;
  • the liturgy of the word – 9 readings: 7 from the Old Testament and 2 from the New Testament, at the end a solemn Hallelujah is sung;
  • baptismal liturgy – renewal of baptismal vows;
  • Eucharistic liturgy – receiving the Eucharist.

Easter Sunday is a time for loved ones

On Easter Sunday, the church bells ring as a sign of the Resurrection of Christ, and families gather for a lunch. The traditional Easter dish on Terceira is lamb. And the typical sweet bread massa sovada with egg on top.

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No one has heard of vegetable salad, eggs with mayonnaise or sour rye soup for breakfast. Everyone knows though that Easter on Terceira is a time for the family. It’s time to meet with loved ones. And giving them chocolate eggs (amendoins doces) in various versions. And in large quantities.

Here, too, children eagerly look for eggs and sweets hidden in the home or garden (caça aos ovos), here everyone is also happy to be with their loved ones. You visit family and friends. It’s time to strengthen bonds. Especially since the celebration ends on Sunday, on Monday you already have to go to work. It’s necessary to make up for free Good Friday.

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And then – Festas do Espírito Santo

In fact, Easter on Terceira is an introduction to Festas do Espírito Santo, the celebration of the Holy Spirit. This is a typical tradition for Terceira, which is celebrated to this day. Interested? Read more about it below. And be sure to come see it live!


Festas do Espirito Santo,

Festas do Espírito Santo – the Holy Spirit’s festivities – are one of the most distinguishable Azorean traditions. You can observe in the Azores processions with crowns and meals for the whole village. Feasts are always concentrated around império – a small colourful Holy Spirit’s chapel. In Terceira there are over 70 of them, so no wonder that these feasts are celebrated so exceptionally here. LEARN MORE.


This is my fourth Easter on Terceira

Each one was different. Once I made a typical Polish Easter breakfast for my friends from Terceira. They were so surprised by the amount of dishes with eggs! Yes, yes, Polish Easter is full of eggs. I once had a Polish-Spanish-Italian breakfast and an opportunity to learn about the traditions in other countries. My colleagues even prepared Easter eggs! And last year I spent Easter Sunday very actively with friends on the trail. 8000 steps passed at the first hill. Practically like Duracella bunnies.

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Now we have 2020 and the coronavirus stage

Everything is closed, and from 9 to 13 April in Portugal no one can move between municipalities. On Terceira, too. Whoever lives in Angra cannot go to Prai at this time – and vice versa. The point is that people don’t go to Easter to their families and don’t infect each other.

This year, for the first time, my Easter on Terceira will be in closed building. Like all other days at the moment. But I already have a sour rye soup in a package, I’m prepared! And besides having the sour soup, I also have a hope that the situation we’re in will soon improve. So that we can celebrate the last Sundays of Festas do Espírito Santo. I wish that for you and myself.


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