Entrudo, Portugal’s Celtic Mardi Gras
Entrudo Portugal, a uniquely Portuguese type of Mardi Gras, marks the last night of feasting before the start of the Lenten season.
Entrudo has its roots in ancient Celtic fertility celebrations, although it is now tied to the Christian customs of Lent.
Similar to Mardi Gras festivities (but much more localized and family friendly), Entrudo is a colorful celebration involving hand carved wooden masks, parades, music, lots of food and drink, and mischievous behavior.
The Careto tradition is a pre-historical Celtic religious ritual still practiced in some regions of Portugal, namely in the villages of Podence (Macedo de Cavaleiros, Bragança District) and Lazarim (Lamego, Viseu District).
The careto is very much evident in Entrudo Portugal celebrations.
Caretos are masked young men dressed in suits made of yellow, red, black, blue and green fringe wool quilts. They wear brass bells, leather or wooden masks, and rattles in their belts. Caretos run about wildly, “stealing” wine, and “frightening” people, especially single women.
This short video shows that the Entrudo Portugal definitely has its roots in ancient Celtic fertility rituals:
Even the very young participate in the Entrudo parade, sometimes doing a little clean up along the route.
If you go to Entrudo, be sure to bring a camera, a Portuguese phrasebook, and wear warm clothes. It’s cold in the mountainous villages that host the oldest Entrudos.
Enjoy the local stews and drinks, most made especially for the event.
Mostly, though, just enjoy this ancient revelry from our Celtic past!