One of the biggest celebrations of the people from the Azores Islands is the Portuguese Holy Ghost Festival. Or as some call it…the Festa. It is celebrated all through the summer months, usually on the weekend. A dinner is prepared and served to the people on Saturday night and a dinner of sopas is prepared and served on Sunday. Most Holy Ghost Organizations serve hundreds of people and some serve thousands of people the sopas meal. It is usually served free of cost to the guests.
The tradition started in the fourteenth century during the reign of King Diniz. His wife Queen St. Isabel or Elizabeth was responsible for the tradition. I have read and heard many accounts of how the tradition came about. One of my favorite stories is… The people of Portugal were starving and Queen Isabel promised God if He would help her feed the people, she would give away all her jewels. Her cruel husband, King Diniz, saw her with something in her apron. It was the jewels. He asked her what she had in her apron and she replied “roses my lord”. He grabbed her apron and out tumbled white roses….it was a miracle. It was winter and no roses could grow at that time of year. Then the next morning in the harbor two ships appeared. They were abandoned and on one was grain and on the other was animals. The queen ordered that bread be made with the grain and the meat of the animals cooked for the poor. The queen selected twelve of the poorest men of the town. The poorest of them she placed her crown on his head and made him “emperior” for the day. Then she invited the men to dine on the bread and meat and invited the whole town to come to the great feast as their guests.