Caretos de Podence

The Carnival of Podence and respective Caretos have been officially recognised as Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

The nomination was considered to be “exemplary” by this entity of the United Nations. It was selected to be included on the list that already includes Fado, Alentejo Singing, the Mediterranean Diet, Falconry and the so-called Estremoz clay figures as well as the craft of Portuguese cowbells.

The ‘Caretos de Podence’ take part in the Carnival festivities of the north-east Trás-os-Montes region, with colourfuland frilly costumes, bells hanging around their waist and a stick to support the mischief. They also have masks, angular leaves finished by a pointed nose, often in tinplate but sometimes also in leather, usually red or black with a cross painted on the forehead.

The routine during the days of celebration consists of the groups of Caretos walking for hours on end along the slope that connects the churchyard to the yard that leads to the entrance of the parish, up and down, incessantly in search of women. They run and scream when they see women off guard, but there are also many consensual encounters. The Carnival in Podence is, in a sign of the times, a stage where roles often tend to reverse, since it is now the women who increasingly seek out the Caretos.

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