Burn ribbons with the students in Portugal
QUEIMA DAS FITAS in Coimbra -They pour beer on each other's heads
and burn the ribbons before their final exams at the oldest university in Portugal. I guarantee you will feel like a fresh graduate again if you join this event.
I didn’t really get it when friends advised me to attend the university parties in Portugal. Now I understand. It is the way how to feel the Portuguese culture. I was lucky enough to be visiting this country in the beginning of May when these celebrations are organized in several cities. I heard that the Portuguese know how to party hard, but I didn’t expect I will enjoy it also as totally uninvolved sober observer. You will too!
Coimbra, the little student’s city is home of the oldest Portuguese University, kind of like a local Harvard. University of Coimbra is situated on the top of the hill, so as usual this country is giving you chance to burn your Pastels de Nata before you can see the interesting monuments. You will find different little shops, restaurants with very good prices and nice authentic people. This is the place where people in restaurants don’t speak great English and you will get your café for 1E. Fado is as popular here as in Lisbon. (Place is totally safe for a single woman traveller.)
1 week in the year it turns from little picturesque town to a big party place for hundreds of students parents and visitors. Everything is just to celebrate that they went successfully through 4 years of the university.
Yep, you are right – they didn’t even pass the exams yet, but they already celebrate that they made it to this point, and they literally celebrate that for 8 days.
Such a shame that I didn’t study in this country. I would be culturally a great fit :D
There is a lot of concerts, parties, fun activities but most importantly the big parade which involves the ribbon burning. Ribbons are in different colour and represent each faculty. Traditionally these ribbons were a strip of cloth used to tie the books.
While sitting in a wine bar in the middle of Coimbra I feel sorry for the poor students wearing their traditional (Harry Potter like) black capes. It is already too hot outside for these outfits, but tradition is tradition and on the top of the hill they will enjoy their refreshment. They are climbing up hill with their parents, friends or partners, everyone has their mobile and money covered in a waterproof bag hanging on their neck. ‘Oh, that parade will include a lot of water’ I am thinking naively.
The tradition of burning the tapes dates back to the 1950s but it went through a lot of changes since then. Now it is massively sponsored by beer producers.
As I climbed up the hill surrounded by students and proud parents, I found myself in a big square packed with funny looking float vehicles. Students create the funniest and extra colourful decorations to their float and pack them with enormous amount of alcohol. Every faculty has its own float.
The beer is used not only for drinking but mainly as an ammunition to fill the water pistols to spray their friends and pour it onto the hair of each other. I feel like I’m in a rock festival but with better vibes. I found myself in the middle of these beer wars and the smell of happiness mixed with malt instantly brought me back to my university time. Their happiness is like a disease and we are all immediately infected. Parents are pouring the beer on the heads of their university kids, students are singing and dancing and stinking like the beer factory.
They are proud, happy, full of energy and emotions…they are very Portuguese 😊
It is not the easiest country to live for a young graduate. I wish these guys a great success in their career.
If you are creating your ‘feel like a local to do list’ this is a must! I love this country.
Did I mention it before? 😉
And a little advice: don’t bring your best camera ,or if you do put it in a waterproof case if you want to join this joyful celebration 😉