Commentary by Eduardo Lima
65th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
1/11/2013 - LAJES FIELD, Azores -- Terceira Island, or the "Island of Jesus Christ," as it's known by some people, is very rich in traditions and festivals so the reason it's often called "an amusement park" by the people of the other Azorean islands.
This epithet is an allusion to the number of festivals and cultural events that take place throughout the year with special emphasis on the summer months.
The first major cultural event of this year will begin next month (Feb. 9-12) with the celebration of Mardi Gras or "Carnaval" as it's known to the Portuguese people. This deeply ingrained tradition takes place almost non-stop for four days and three nights in theaters and community centers around the island.
With Easter Sunday arrives the beginning of the colorful Holy Ghost Festival which will extend for eight weeks, until Pentecost Sunday. This celebration happens throughout the Azorean islands but has bigger visibility and impact on Terceira Island.
With warmer weather also comes the street bullfight season. This old tradition begins every year on May 1st and runs until 15 October. This is probably one of the most loved traditions with the bullfights taking place at almost any village on the island.
The series of cultural events is followed in the last two weeks of June by the largest non-religious festival called "Sanjoaninas." This week-long event takes place in the city of Angra's main streets and usually attracts thousands of locals and visitors from abroad and the other islands.
Beginning in the first week of August the city of Praia will host its renowned festival called "Praia Fest." This event is also particularly enjoyed by the American community from Lajes Field since it's very close to the base.
The Wine Festival takes place every year during the first weekend of September at the wine museum in the village of Biscoitos. This tradition gives the visitors a chance to watch the locals pick up the grapes in the local vineyards and crush the grapes with their bare feet to produce the local wines.
Meanwhile, between May and October, and in addition to the cultural events mentioned above, all the island's villages will host their festivities in honor of their patron saints, with the village of Lajes having the honor to close the festival season.
To find out more about the Azorean culture and customs call the Public Affairs Office at 535-3413 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.