"Desfolhada" - Portuguese tradition

  • 1st step: Preparing the land (April / May)

    Plow the land : The oxen pull a manufactured instrument used to plow the land, which had already been fertilized.

    Gradate the land: traditional method that intends to soften and stabilize the land, after being revolved before.

    2nd Step: Sow the corn (May / June)

    Sow the corn: This work can be handmade or pulled by oxen, in which the person who sows leaves the corn seed separated a few inches from each other on a small trench.

    Pare the corn: Men and women dig around the small corn stem, removing herbs and other smaller stems which are conditioning the corn from growing healthy and big. This job is done three or four time, before the harvest.

    3rd Step: harvest the corn (October) / Desfolhada

    People cut the stems of the corn, which is later transported to a threshing floor, where people will gather to do the “desfolhada”.

    This tradition is a community one, in the sense that neighbours help the family that has a “desfolhada”. All people help on the threshing floor, and they defoliate the corn cobs while women mainly sing popular songs, some of them are “ challenging songs”, which are typical songs sang by women and men alternately.

    The main interest of the “desfolhada” is the hope that the participants have to find the King Corn, a type of corn cob that is red. Finding this kind of corn gives young men the right to give hugs to all participants and conquer a kiss or from a girlfriend or some girl he is secretly in love with.

    After all the work, people continue and make a party. They eat, drink, sing and dance. It is an autumnal party, the celebration of the harvest and life and it is a joyful moment.

    The corn cobs are stored in small buildings called “espigueiros” (granaries). Later it will be transformed in flour or used to feed animals (chickens, oxes, etc).

    This song is a traditional song, not about “desfolhada” itself, but an elegy to the corn as a mean to conquer the loved woman.

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