The 1922 Carnival in Olhão

Did any of you experience the carnivals that happened in February? With the help of Arquivo Municipal de Olhão (Algarvian Archives Network), we are going back in time to discover how the carnival was celebrated in 1922.

WORDS Helena Vinagre and Pedro Bandarra

The description of the 1922 carnival in Olhão can be found in the newspaper Correio Olhanense, dated 2 March.

The reporter writes, “For many years now, the old carnival has not shaken this peaceful and careless Olhão so strongly. It was delirious … dances and more dances, costume competitions [and] flower battles.”

On Saturday, the beginning of the “official festivities” took place at Grémio Olhanense Club with a “children’s soirée masquée” – a kind of masquerade ball for children.

On Sunday, the “first day of revelry” was reported with “people in the streets”. The animated description read: “carnival on the loose … unrestrained carnival, the likes of which have not been seen in a long time”. At around 4 pm, “coming from Grémio, decorated floats began to parade in a procession” in a competition promoted by the social club.

The winner of the parade of “ornamented floats” was the “Harem” car, which was decorated “with quilts, furs and oriental cloths”, “mademoiselles” dressed as odalisques and another “mademoiselle”, dressed as a sultan?

The reporter also tells us that the streets were full – “people flocking” – with many of those present, as expected, from Olhão, but also from Faro, Fuseta, Moncarapacho and São Brás. Later that day, throughout the night, there were balls at Grémio and Recreativa clubs.

On Tuesday, there was a “cross-dressing competition at Grémio”, which was followed by an “extraordinarily lively” ball which, in the words of the reporter, “was the ball that ended later in the entire carnival”.

If you experienced the 2024 carnival, was it as lively or even more lively than the 1922 one was?

Did you know? Cross-dressing is a fun element of many carnival processions in Portugal.


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