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Festival of the Crosses - Monsanto

Festival of the Crosses - Monsanto

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According to a longstanding tradition, in the 2nd century BC, the Roman praetor Lucius Emilius Paulus lay siege to Mons Sanctus, the Roman name for Monsanto, where there was a pocket of resistance to the power of Rome.
For seven years, the local population fought against the Roman occupation, perhaps under the leadership of the great Lusitanian warrior Viriatus.
When the villagers saw that their ability to resist the siege was drawing to an end (as well as their provisions), they threw a cow with its stomach full of wheat from the castle ramparts (probably the last wheat and the last cow) to show that they still had abundant supplies and could continue their resistance.
The trick worked and the assailants lifted their siege.

This is the legend that is celebrated every year on 3 May by the villagers of Monsanto, who parade up the hill to the castle, to the sound of adufes (tambourines) and ancient rhyming songs, carrying pitchers of flowers that they then throw onto the rocks, this symbolic gesture being used to evoke the freedom that they conquered more than two thousand years ago.
The women and young girls carry with them marafonas (rag dolls), which their grandparents believed had the power to quell thunderstorms.
Nowadays, along with the adufes, they are an important part of the interesting local handicraft.


Festival of the Crosses - Monsanto
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