Name: Marta Sirgado

Activity: Popular Saints folk parade goer / Fado Singer

Neighborhood: I live in the Arroios neighborhood, but I march for the Graça neighborhood.

How did you start? Although I am a true Lisboner, I didn´t know how to participate. When I was a child, I used to love watching the Popular Saints folk parade on TV – I was obsessed with the magic of it all.  However, my parents never let me participate, so when a friend invited me to take part and walk for Graça district, eight years ago, I didn’t hesitate one bit! Today I am a proud Graça marcher and I can’t imagine marching for any other neighborhood.

Does your friend still march with you? Yes! She met her husband in the parade and they already have two children. They march side by side and are an amazing couple.

Can you explain the parade to a tourist? Tourists love the vibe, the colors, and the music. Though it is easier to feel it than to explain it.

2018 theme: Graça painted on a stained glass.

How long does it take to prepare and rehearse the parade? Right after the Popular Saints, the collective starts working on next year’s parade. From January to April, we set everything up so that the participants can start rehearsing. From early April until June 13th we practice every single day from 9.30 to 11.30 PM. Considering that most participants have full-time jobs and families to attend, this proves to be quite demanding, but also an immense joy.

Defining moments: A week prior to Saint Anthony,  there is a jury parade at Altice Arena (located in eastern Lisbon). It’s really exciting when you’re behind the curtain hearing your friends and family shouting and supporting you. However, the parade at Avenida da Liberdade is the real deal! There I really feel like I am representing my town, my country and its traditions.

Tell us about the symbols of this season: There is the Manjerico (decorative basil pot), the sardines and the traditional fishmongers. Two years ago I was shouting “OOOO VIVA DA COSTA” down the Avenue, personifying a fishmonger. My grandmother had a tradition that I still respect: she bought a Saint Anthony’s bread and kept it for an entire year. She ate it only at the next Saint Anthony’s day while saying her prayers.

You are also a Fado singer. Where can we hear you sing? I do not have a fixed place at the moment. I perform in different venues, as well as marriages, private events, hotels, and restaurants which are not typical Fado houses. I share my upcoming gigs on my Facebook page. I don’t see myself singing Fado every day, as it I have to feel inspired to sing.

Where would you like to go as a tourist?

I am not a traveler – I’m a rather simple person who is in love with her own country. I feel like I still have many beautiful landscapes and towns to explore, so I would like to first start here in Portugal and then eventually spend my dream vacation in an even warmer place.

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