With the arrival of spring, the city of Funchal turns into a inebriating floral stage filled with enchantment.
The magic of this event starts on Saturday morning, with the Children’s Parade, on which, hundreds of children dressed for the occasion event to the Municipio Square where a beautiful flower mural is built, that is symbolically named “The Wall of Hope” (Muro da Esperança).
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Pico Ruivo is the highest peak on the Madeira Islands. It can be reached only by foot, usually either from Pico do Arieiro (3rd highest) after a strenuous hike, or from Achada do Teixeira with a shorter, easier trail. There is an additional trail leading west to Encumeada. Just below the summit is a hut offering simple accommodation and drinks.
Pico Ruivo is 1862 meters (6107 ft) high  and provides some of the most incredible views of the island from coast to coast, but unpredictable weather conditions can make it quite dangerous
The month of December can be a very busy one … especially for those who are preparing for the holidays festivities and Madeiran traditions. One of these traditions is the Presépio …. which is set up starting from 8th of December. It is the Christmas Nativity with all the usual figurines. You will find it in most homes here on Madeira and also in hotels and restaurants.
A hint: when you come across a Presépio … take a few minutes to contemplate the work and if you see the owner/maker of it, praise their work. If you do this before ordering dinner … you might get a discount.
Apart from the Presépio, Madeira also has other Christmas customs … such as Lapinha. Lapinha is a display with the figure of baby Jesus on top of what looks like a miniature mountain. In the middle they usually display fruits and the bottom there are small pots of freshly sprouted wheat. The believe is that the seeds are potted between 1st and 8th of December …. and if the wheat is later planted and grows well, a good harvest is assured. Most Lapinha’s are extended with all kind of toys, miniature village, wooden trunks, stones and plastic animals. Some more elaborate constructions boast even mountains made of hardened, dark paper, and water in form of ponds or even a stream. Sapatinhos (Ladies Shoes orchids) and other flowers are also used.
Other tradition is that on the nine days before 24th of December, devoted Madeirans go to mass (very early) in the morning …. to pray for Mary’s nine months of pregnancy, … and each service is finished with a small get-together in front of the church …. most of the times chanting songs, music and enjoying home-made liquor.
But that is not all ….
The traditional-conscious Madeiran, on New Year’s Eve, carries something borrowed, some coins … and 12 raisins in hand. Equipped with these …. at the stroke of midnight … he/she can make 12 wishes … that might be granted until next December.
These are the traditions I could come up with. If I missed any, then please tell us which one in the comments. Obrigado!
Madeira … a Portuguese archipelago, that is the outermost region of the European Union, has a very high green biodiversity, and in combination with the ocean, mountains and sky it creates a real festival of colors.
Rainbow at Balcões (Photo by Alan)
Madeira is known as the “Flower Island“, but instead it would be more fitting to call it “The Green Pearl of the Atlantic Ocean” with its 13,010,405,091,801 type of green colors it holds. If you do not believe it, then come over to Madeira and count the colors green yourself.
Cascades of the Levada do Caldeirao Verde (Photo by Rafael Fresno)
You have booked a holiday to the island of Madeira. At the arrival at the Madeira airport … you go and collect your bags/suitcases … head out with your partner where you are welcomed by your hostess or you are going to the car rental desk. Afterwards you leave the airport building where you might need to wait a while for the transfer bus or car. Then my question to you is the following …. What is the first thing you do while you wait?
To look at your watch and wondering how long it will take;
You are checking your bags if they have sustained any damage;
You discuss with your partner where you are going to eat tonight … hotel or in the city;
You are wondering what time the return flight is;
You hope that your hotel room will be ready and whether you will get sea-view;
You are wondering what the weather today is, … and what is the forecast for tomorrow and the rest of the week;
You check if your mobile is still working and send an SMS to the home front;
While you are waiting, … together with your partner, you look to the South and admire the vast ocean. You realize that you are in the middle of the Atlantic. You can see the Islands Desertas (deserted islands) and more to the East you see the peninsula Ponta de São Lourenço, that has a completely different structure from the rest of Madeira. Furthermore you look to the North and you will notice how mountainous the island is … and that it even extends beyond the clouds. You will see the steep slopes of the West Coast displaying the various colorful villages.
Madeira has various ‘Arraiais‘ all year round. Arraiais are traditional regional festivities that is celebrated with street processions, flower carpets, churches and street decorations with lights, colorful flags, music, traditional folklore, food and drink. Each town/parish has its own Arraial and they can differ one from another. To give you an impression of such an Arraial …. check out the following videos made by resp. Rui Martins and ‘Berdades’.