Portuguese pride, hospitality on display ‘Dia de Portugal’
Red and green, the Portuguese flag’s dominant colors, were on display at every turn as the Portuguese community of Bethlehem celebrated the 38th annual “Portuguese Heritage Day” at Holy Infancy School June 9 and 10 on East 4th Street in South Bethlehem. The festival benefits the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Fatima.
“Pride in being Portuguese” was the festival’s theme as many people, young and old, dressed in traditional Portuguese costumes. The food, prepared by volunteers from the community, featured everything from heart-healthy sardines, grilled whole, to Portuguese donuts (maybe not so heart-healthy). Entertainment included groups of dancers performing traditional circle dances.
Another highlight was a fiery musical performance by a group called “Devil’s Racket” (Roncos de Diablo), four men playing Portuguese bagpipes and a drummer whose rhythm held the ensemble together. Hailing from the Celtic northwestern corner of Portugal, the players had been invited to the United States to perform at the Portugal Day celebration in Newark, N.J. Organizers of Bethlehem’s festival lured them here, too.
“Lively” barely describes their performance; “rip-snorting” would be more accurate. Anyone who loves traditional Irish or Scottish music and culture would feel right at home. In fact, the second afternoon of the festival included a performance by a group called “Irish Stars.”
Portuguese pride was on display at Bethlehem’s “Dia de Portugal,” but so was Portuguese hospitality. A non-Portuguese visitor was greeted and welcomed several times as he walked through the crowd. The festival is family friendly, and children of all ages were numerous. Note to anyone who wants a fun and interesting outing: Pencil the 39th Portuguese Heritage Day into your calendar for June 2018.