Around Lisbon and across much of Portugal today, you may have noticed locals selling small bunches of wheat stalks, poppies, daisies, an olive branch and a sprig of rosemary. A random collection of wild flowers? Not exactly.
Today, the Portuguese celebrates “Dia da Espiga”, which loosely translates to “Day of Cereal Ears”. Early in the morning, young children descend upon the fields to pick wheat and assemble a collection of wild flowers, each which hold a separate and very unique significance. Daisies represent gold, while poppies symbolize love. Wheat stalks give us bread and nourishment. The olive branch signifies peace, light and remembrance since years ago olive oil lamps were the only means to illuminate households. And finally rosemary, thought to ensure health and strength throughout the coming year.
Tradition calls for each household to collect one assembled bunch, hang it on the door to dry, and keep it for an entire year to reap the full benefits.
Dia da Espiga is a revered time-old tradition with origins a bit unknown. Some say that it comes from an old Christian tradition; the blessing of the first fruit of each harvest. Others say that it’s even older, originating from the Pagan cults to the Goddess Flora, which also happened this time of the year.
Whichever your belief, it’s a celebration of spring, family, harmony and prosperity…And it doesn’t get much better than that!