St. Joana's Day in Portugal

St. Joana's Day, known as Dia de Santa Joana in Portuguese, is a significant religious and cultural event celebrated in Portugal. This day commemorates the life of St. Joana, a Portuguese princess turned nun, who is considered the patroness of Aveiro, a city in Portugal. St. Joana's Day is typically celebrated on May 12th each year in Portugal.


The celebration of St. Joana's Day in Portugal dates back to the 15th century when Princess Joana, the daughter of King Afonso V of Portugal, decided to renounce her royal status and dedicate her life to religion. She joined the Dominican Order at the Convent of Jesus in Aveiro in 1472, where she lived a humble and pious life until her death in 1490. St. Joana's commitment to her faith and her devotion to the people of Aveiro led to her beatification in 1693, and her eventual canonization by the Catholic Church.


National customs for St. Joana's Day in Portugal

St. Joana's Day is a significant event for the people of Portugal, particularly in Aveiro where she is considered the patroness. On this day, churches across the country hold special masses, prayers, and other religious ceremonies in honor of St. Joana. The faithful also pay homage to the saint through acts of charity and by visiting her relics at the Convent of Jesus in Aveiro.

Local customs for St. Joana's Day in Portugal

In Aveiro, St. Joana's Day is marked by a series of local customs and traditions. A highlight of the celebrations is the procession of St. Joana's statue, which is carried through the streets of the city by devotees dressed in traditional attire. The procession is accompanied by a marching band and is followed by a large crowd of people paying their respects to the saint. The day is also marked by a fair with food, drinks, and various forms of entertainment for people of all ages.

Another tradition associated with St. Joana's Day in Aveiro is the "Moliceiros" boat race. This unique event sees teams of skilled boatmen competing in a race along the city's famous canals in their traditionally painted and decorated Moliceiros boats. The race is a colorful and lively spectacle that attracts both locals and tourists alike.


St. Joana's Day is an important religious and cultural event in Portugal, particularly in the city of Aveiro, where the saint is held in high esteem. The numerous customs and traditions associated with the day, such as the procession of St. Joana's statue and the Moliceiros boat race, add to the festive atmosphere and provide a unique insight into the rich heritage of the Portuguese people. Overall, St. Joana's Day is an event that celebrates the values of faith, humility, and devotion that continue to resonate with the people of Portugal today.