Country celebrations and basil
In June, the Algarvians take special delight in celebrating local feast days.
Villages, towns and cities are decorated with colourful flagpoles, adorned with myrtle and lavender. Country feasts kick off with dancing, bonfire jumping, and people drinking wine and eating grilled sardines. In the festive atmosphere scented with potted basil (in which quartets of verses dedicated to the saints, are placed and exchanged between courting couples), there is conviviality, nibbles and lots of entertainment.
In previous times, girls of marriageable age enjoyed themselves by having their luck cast. The most famous casting involved broad beans, which were supposed to predict whether the year would be good or poor. Girls arranged three beans – one without a shell, one with half a shell and one with its shell on. Afterwards, they would jump over a bonfire nine times. The girls would put the beans under their pillows at night, and on the following morning, withdraw one bean. If a shelled bean emerged, it meant a year of hardship (a bean with its entire shell, on the other hand, would mean prosperity). Burning thistles, melting lead and luck games with basins of water were other versions of these practices, where fun was more important than belief in the result.