A Look at the Portuguese World


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December 1st, 1640

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The resumption of independence is celebrated with pomp and circumstance in the city of Santa Cruz, Madeira.

The darkness still embraces Santa Cruz, but I hear nervous steps breaking down the sidewalk, the waves roaring in the pebble, the echo of voices in joyous hubbub in the streets and the incessant bustle of rustling of goods in the local market. Along the Quinta do Revoredo the peace is abruptly interrupted by the sound of the instruments in disarray and warning cries, the municipal band prepares to march through the city streets, starting one of the most beautiful "arruadas" of Madeira, the one across the island, which continuously reconstitutes for over 80 years, thanks to nationalist impulses of a conductor and some musicians, the celebrations of December 1st, 1640.

Six o'clock in the morning. The reveille resounds through the narrow streets of a city with the soul a village , the people spontaneously joins musicians that stop in all institutions of the parish , one by one they are all treated with the same layout good morning and good a hymn of nationalist content. At the opposite extreme, and many curious and Saint Croix habitants, wait patiently, between yawns and conversations of circumstance, in front of the Town Hall for the municipal band to start staging the restoration of independence, by the amateur theater group "the Minute ". The revolt of the 40 conjured against the yoke of Spanish begins ... two conspirators discuss the final details of a plan of attack of the King's palace , with the aim of capturing the Duchess of Mantua and arrange the death of the Secretary of State, Miguel de Vasconcelos, taking advantage of the fact that the Spanish court moved to Madrid . It is the prelude to a moment lost in the bygone time, but still very present in the collective memory that is now remembered after 373 years , the rebels leading the impoverished people hoisting white flags with the shield of Portugal invade the palace with amid shouts of: Kill the traitor and hurray freedom ! The Italian dame between vehement protests is arrested as predicted and Don Miguel is sent to the gallows that waits for him near the mob. The dramatic gesture starts the laughter and applause of the entire audience, since that is launched instead, from the balcony of the Town Hall of Santa Cruz, is nothing more than a puppet.


Already the first rays of dawn jump thru the cracks of the traditional houses, when the band takes over its paths this time to the House of the People, where they await them with wine and whiskey to help heat their bodies, not their throats. These, the voices, are already tuned to the first chords of songs that will be sung in the streets, to the delight of young and old, rich and poor. The band passes and now holds steadily in all taverns, bars and restaurants of the city with the soul of village, traders thank boosters offering drinks and certain foods associated with Christmas. In the square Father Gabriel Olavo Garcês preparations are been finalize for a small meal for all the present, a gift of the local People's House , which lasts for 12 years , consisting of soup , sandwiches of chicken and meat on wine of garlic , arriving in good time , because hunger squeezes between the "troublemakers " . Already the morning goes high when they cease the festivities of December 1st marking the start of another very important period for the Madeiran, Christmas. Welcome to Santa Cruz.

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