Passagem de Ano: The Passing of 2017 into 2018 in Portugal. Our thoughts for those who work to care for all creatures big and small.

The ‘Passing of the Year’ is the expression in Portuguese as the old year finishes and the new one begins. A time of hope and it seems nowadays fireworks to celebrate. We have now enjoyed the fireworks and a walk on the beach for the third year running in Monte Gordo on the Algarve. There is a strong sense of families celebrating together whether in the hotel, the local bars and the marquee for dancing in the New Year.

However, the sun rose on a sad sight on New Year’s Day but also an incredible sight and an occasion to see how we as human beings in Europe in the 21st Century feel for the plight of a stranded whale. There were tears, attempts to push the whale, common sense and finally the Portuguese lifeboat service with the maritime police all wetsuited up came and towed the whale out. It was spouting and alive. The last photo shows the boats out in deeper water trying to ensure the whale heads out to sea.

After being close to the whale with crowds of people on the beach and a strong desire for the whale to return we then watched from our hotel with binoculars the boat rescue. The hotel staff were all very moved to tears too and we were relieved and thought it was a happy ending. However, I research too much. The whale was a cachalote in Portuguese, a sperm whale, of about 9 to 10 metres long. Many sperm whale can live up to 70 years, mainly on squid, in those cold seas. However, they do suffer from diseases and can get washed up ashore because of this or disorientation. It did seem unusual for a whale to be so near the coast but they do live in the Mediterranean and Atlantic and could migrate through this more narrow stretch between Africa and Europe.

My ongoing research led me to a news report about 24 hours later. A cachalote had been found washed up dead on Isla Armonia near Olhao. It was about 10 metres and believed to be the same one that had been rescued at Monte Gordo. Cause of death? Not old age it was not fully grown and possibly a young adolescent male.

Thanks to Becky and her blog about living in Portugal I also researched the Portuguese word Presepio. These are the miniature Natavity scenes that are popular in houses and also on a more public scale. I found out about the one put together by the Bombeiros of Tavira, the fire and rescue service. Above is the entrance to the fire station with beautiful wrought iron doors. Inside were really interesting miniature scenes. As well as showing the bible story set around the birth of Christ it’s also common to show scenes from Portuguese rural history with mills, ovens, windmills and plenty of animals, water and miniature local boats. Worth going to if you are in a Tavira from December to January 7th. But don’t expect baby Jesus to be in his crib until Christmas Day!

One of the largest presepios in Portugal is just at the end of the N125 not too far from Tavira in Vila Real. This is called the Presepio Gigante and it was certainly long as seen from the photo with all the blue lighting.

The actual crib scene is quite small but around are many rural scenes. Some were more Portuguese but at the far end the Roman influences and boats being built were more evident. It is interesting to note that at the time Jesus was born there was a lot of Roman influence and empire along the Algarve and near Seville where there are some amazing amphitheatre ruins called Italica and a bit further north, Merida. All easily accessible from Rome by sea and river routes. Rome ruled the seas and made the roads then!

Animals did feature in this Presepio too. Wild white birds with an eagle flying above, storks nesting and a rabbit being caught by a lasso! No guns then? However, the fun part which is supposed to amuse children is the ‘man with the red cape or coat’. He is to be found behind a tree or a bush ‘ doing his necessities’ in Spanish or Portuguese and translated as ‘having a poop’ in English! My new camera was quick enough to catch that!

As now its almost two weeks from the year passing over from 17 to 18 I have to explain my delay in posting. I struggle getting the photos from my new camera onto the laptop and I then struggle to upload to WordPress. I have also been submitting my novel to some more literary agents and it really seems like making a job application, which it is and I find each agency sufficiently different in the structure needed. At least these ones have an automatic response email and guarantee a short reply if not successful. Let’s hope for a phone call or positive email soon. One has 100 submissions a week so that does make for a lot of work. Thinking about it though I would mark at least 30 English GCSE essays a week, 20 A level and at least another 30 of the younger classes and all mainly in the evenings after teaching all day. Comments needed!

Here’s some of the last lights of the festive season from Vila Real, Portugal Β and wishing you all well for 2018.

31 thoughts on “Passagem de Ano: The Passing of 2017 into 2018 in Portugal. Our thoughts for those who work to care for all creatures big and small.”

  1. Thank you so much for the link πŸ™‚ so glad you got to see the presepios. They are amazing aren’t they.

    So sad about the whale, one of the first things I read about when we arrived this week.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry we didn’t get to meet you over Xmas and New Year. 4 weeks in the UK passes in a flash. Apart from our trip to Skegness at the beginning of December, I did manage to spend a couple of days in Barton the following week. Next time, I’ll really try to get in touch! (March a possibility?)


  3. The Presepio’s are charming, especially the boatbuilder scene. All this work suggests that the firemen are not too heavily occupied, which has to be good news. So sorry about the whale and I hope it is just an isolated bit of bad luck for the whale and not yet more problems created by humans.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, let’s hope so and not plastic or noise pollution. Marine biologists suggest that sperm whales do suffer from diseases, but why? With the Presepios a new part is added each year so they have built up over time. But the firemen seemed quite happy to chat!


  4. Georgina, at first I thought the Presepios were small crib scenes…until I looked at your later photos. Wow! This is amazing…a massive recreation and of course I laughed at the photo you had to get.

    It’s sad about the whale and one always wonders why. However I took comfort in the humanity and care of everyone and how its plight affected you all.

    Finally, best of luck with your novel and agent hunting…may you have a bite soon! πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the these Presepios show a story of rural life with many Algarve features . I think folk in Spain and Portugal are still close to their rural roots too. The whale seemed to uncover how compassion for other creatures on New Year’s Day.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The presepios look like amazing creations and such a nice thing to do to mark the season. I was so sorry to hear about the whale – my heart always sinks when I hear of a stranding because they do rarely seem to have happy endings. Agent hunting is a difficult process, but I wish you lots of luck with it, let’s hope you – and I! – will be successful this year πŸ™‚


  6. The presepios are amazing! I do like it when countries have preserved their traditions and don’t feel the need to play them down, apologise for them or even abolish them! It is probably the Roman Catholic influence! I was saddened to read about the whale and its fate. I am sure we humans are responsible for many of the problems these creatures face. Happy New Year, Georgina!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi πŸ™‚ I enjoyed looking at the photos and hearing about the New Year celebration and the miniature displays. It is too bad about the whale. A Happy New Year to you! πŸ™‚

    I really enjoyed reading your story. Thank you for letting me read it. πŸ™‚ I am looking forward to the next one. It was an interesting puzzle to follow along with your characters and see if I could figure out with the help of Google and Google maps where they were. I think a glossary with information about the plants, animals, humans, and places would be interesting and useful and maps. There are quite a few scenes that would make for nice illustrations. I learned a lot reading the story and I got attached to the characters. Now, I want to know what happens next. πŸ™‚ I hope you have success with finding an agent and publisher. I wish I had something useful to say about that adventure, but it is outside of my experience. I hope you will stick with it and not get discouraged.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Sarah for reading to the end and it’s good to know you got attached to the characters. I do have a plan for a follow up but I think that might take some time! It took me all last week to write cover letters to agents but today I was talking with my artist friend and will consider self publishing with some of her drawings and yes maps needed too. However, my dear hubby doesn’t like my ending as he wants a resolution! Unfortunately I think it will be difficult times ahead for all nature’s creatures if we humans can’t be more proactive, well the politicians and corporations mainly. Have enjoyed sunshine today and will try not to get discouraged but it seems to take so long to hear from these agents. I wish you all the best for 2018 and must keep up with my blogging and following your amazing photos. πŸ¦…πŸ What no weasels! Thanks again Sarah and may you be blessed by many more birds this year.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t seen a weasel. πŸ™‚ I’d love to along with all kinds of other plants and animals. I hope to go on more adventures further from my home and see what I find.

        It is nice for stories to have resolutions, but on the other hand, this leaves room for another story about the characters. Life rarely has resolutions and maybe that is why we like them in stories. πŸ™‚ Your story deals with a topic which is ongoing so it seems fitting that it ends at a pause as opposed to a definitive ending.

        Thank you for your happy wishes! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, thanks for that! I think it also may force me to continue as it will be more set in the valley of Navaselva! I’ve only seen a weasel twice here. Once at my feet and quite shocked and then with a mouse! πŸ¦‹πŸ•·πŸ¦Ž

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Such a lot Of work in those presepios .. they are amazing! Oh best of luck with your novel ..! So sorry to read about the whale, they are such beautiful creatures. May 2018 Be a special one for you .. and you get that email you are waiting for.

    Liked by 1 person

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