Aveiro lives the one that is the biggest popular festival and continues to be, increasing, motive to attract tourists.
By Aveiro's lands it’s often said that the Christmas festivities only end after the finishing of the festival in honor to São Gonçalinho – event which “brand image” is the throwing cavacas (a portuguese pastry covered in sugar)from the top of the chapel consecrated to this saint. There are various days of “strong” party, centered in the Beira Mar historical neighborhood and which attract more and more people from other points of the country and, also, beyond borders. That was confirmed to PÚBLICO for various by several hotel and restaurants managers of the city. The majority of them talks about a rise in the reservations and make vows that this is a trend to keep.
Carla Santos, Hotel das Salinas owner, assures that her hotel is, this São Gonçalinho weekend, “almost full”. “In the last years, we verified that are the national tourists, specially from Lisbon, and the international tourists, from France and Belgium, the ones who value the most this tradition”, testify. Carla Santos refers that have “some clients” who already ask “to buy cavacas to make sure they can participate in the festivities”.
Also in the Hotel Moliceiro this festivities are synonymous of an increase of reservations. “We’re talking about a rise of 10% and are, mostly, people that have relatives or friends in Aveiro and want to participate in the festivities”, notice Cristina Durães, director of this four stars hotel.
For the hotel Meliã Ria, for now, the popular aveirense festival didn’t produce effects in the reservations number yet. “The only thing we have is an event, in the restaurant, of a family that always take opportunity in this date to get together”, declares Ana Gouveia, without making vows that, in the future, São Gonçalinho festivities will bring more profits to the hotel she runs.
In the restoration, the rise in clients and service seems to be even more significant. Maria Soares has three restaurants, all of them situated in the Beira Mar neighborhood, in the heart of the festivities, and assures that that all the three are already full, with reservations, in the nights of this weekend and “with good perspectives for Monday and Thursday”. “In one of the cases, for example, the person who is organizing the dinner is from Aveiro, but the guests are from outside, from other cities”, testifies the owner of Porta 35, Porta 36 and À Portuguesa, evidencing that “this is also a festival that attracts a lot of people from Aveiro that are out of town, making them return to their city”.
The festivities, organized by São Gonçalinho Stewardarship – in partnership with Aveiro Town Hall – started this Friday, with the promise of having S. Peter’s help until the end (the weather previsions are good). Until Tuesday, it will be throwing cavacas from the top of the church, a ritual that serves to the devotees pay the promises did to the saint that, in Aveiro, is treated like “little saint” or “little boy”. And while ones throw cavacas, others, almost always in hundreds, get together in the church wide to catch some cavacas, achieving a tradition that has crossed generations.
And, even if it’s the most popular side of the festivities, the program goes behind the cavacas tradition. As the tradition dictates, the Monday programs dedicate the morning to the youngest, with the habitual São Gonçalinho from the schools.
Also included in the festivities of the patron saint of the Beira Mar neighborhood, is going on “Aveiro Flavors with tradition”, a gastronomy festival that mobilizes more than 30 local restaurants – the participating establishments are indicated with a little flag identifying the event at the door.