AP PHOTOS: Celebrating Azorean culture in southern Brazil

In this Nov. 12, 2017 photo, Catarina de Souza and Arthur Varela prepare to join the Portuguese royal court during the Azorean Culture Festival which celebrates the culture of the Azores, the Portuguese island chain that lies in the mid-Atlantic, in Enseada de Brito, in Brazil's Santa Catarina southern state. The festival celebrates traditions brought more than two centuries ago from the Portuguese island chain Azores, which lies in the mid-Atlantic. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
In this Nov. 9, 2017 photo, boats are anchored in the sea as the sun rises in Enseada de Brito, in Brazil's Santa Catarina southern state, on the first day of the Azorean Culture Festival. The festival celebrates traditions brought more than two centuries ago from the Portuguese island chain Azores, which lies in the mid-Atlantic. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
In this Nov. 12, 2017 photo, men carry the St. Sebastian pole during the Azorean Culture Festival which celebrates the culture of the Azores, the Portuguese island chain in the mid-Atlantic, in Enseada de Brito, in Brazil's Santa Catarina southern state. The wooden pole is decorated with local flowers and palm fronds, and while paraded around, many drink "consertada," a mix of coffee, cinnamon and the Brazilian sugarcane liquor called "cachaca." (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
In this Nov. 12, 2017 photo, Luana Borges, right, adjusts her daughter Luana Silva's red dress, as they dress up as Portuguese royalty for the Azorean Culture Festival, which celebrates the culture of the Azores, the Portuguese island chain that lies in the mid-Atlantic, in Enseada de Brito, in Brazil's Santa Catarina southern state. At the climax of the festival, a couple that represents the Portuguese emperor and his wife lead a parade of attendants for a church Mass. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
In this Nov. 10, 2017 photo, a folk group practices the "Boi de Mamao" mock bull charging game ahead of the Azorean Culture Festival, which celebrates the culture of the Azores, the Portuguese island chain that lies in the mid-Atlantic, in Enseada de Brito, in Brazil's Santa Catarina southern state. Andre Cordeiro, 20, who leads one of the singing and dancing groups that performed this year, says the festival helps to ensure that the traditions of the Azores aren't forgotten. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
In this Nov. 11, 2017 photo, children dressed in traditional outfits play during the Azorean Culture Festival which celebrates the culture of the Azores, the Portuguese island chain in the mid-Atlantic, in Enseada de Brito, in Brazil's Santa Catarina southern state. "We have to make sure that our culture always stays alive, not let it die," said Andre Cordeiro, who leads one of the singing and dancing groups that performed this year. "We are able to pass it on from generation to generation." (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
In this Nov. 10, 2017 photo, traditional Maricota characters "Boi de Mamao" right, and the ox, left, peer from the windows at the Cultural Center during preparations for the Azorean Culture Festival which celebrates the culture of the Azores, the Portuguese island chain that lies in the mid-Atlantic, in Enseada de Brito, in Brazil's Santa Catarina southern state. In the mid-18th century, several families from the mid-Atlantic archipelago migrated to settle here, and the festival reflects the resulting mix of Azorean culture and the native and African traditions in Brazil. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
In this Nov. 12, 2017 photo, Luan Silva, who plays the part of the emperor, parades during the Azorean Culture Festival which celebrates the culture of the Azores, the Portuguese island chain that lies in the mid-Atlantic, in Enseada de Brito, in Brazil's Santa Catarina southern state. The parade is the climax of the festival, leading to a Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary Church. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
In this Nov. 12, 2017 photo, Luana Borges, playing the part of the Portuguese empress, right, and her daughter Luana Silva prepare to join the Azorean Culture Festival which celebrates the culture of the Azores, the Portuguese island chain in the mid-Atlantic, in Enseada de Brito, in Brazil's Santa Catarina southern state. The communities of Santa Catarina have preserved some artisanal methods of lace making since lost in the Azores themselves. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
In this Nov. 9, 2017 photo, a symbol of the Holy Spirit decorates the altar inside the House of Azorean Culture, during the Azorean Culture Festival which celebrates the culture of the Azores, the Portuguese island chain that lies in the mid-Atlantic, in Enseada de Brito, in Brazil's Santa Catarina southern state. At the climax of the festival, a parade leads to a Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary Church. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
In this Nov. 11, 2017 photo, children run from a person dressed as a charging bull during the Azorean Culture Festival, which celebrates the culture of the Azores, the Portuguese island chain that lies in the mid-Atlantic, in Enseada de Brito, in Brazil's Santa Catarina southern state. During the festival, artisans also showcase traditional crafts, including lace making and pottery. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
In this Nov. 11, 2017 photo, a folk group performs the ribbon dance around the St. Sebastian pole during the Azorean Culture Festival, which celebrates the culture of the Azores, the Portuguese island chain that lies in the mid-Atlantic, in Enseada de Brito, in Brazil's Santa Catarina southern state. Festival-goers dance around the pole of St. Sebastian, known locally for helping those who are single find their match. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
In this Nov. 12, 2017 photo, residents dressed in red robes and wearing crowns that represent the Portuguese emperor and his wife pose for a portrait during the Azorean Culture Festival which celebrates the culture of the Azores, the Portuguese island chain that lies in the mid-Atlantic, in Enseada de Brito, in Brazil's Santa Catarina southern state. In the mid-18th century, several families from the archipelago migrated to settle here, and the festival reflects the resulting mix of Azorean culture and the native and African traditions in Brazil. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
In this Nov. 12, 2017 photo, a woman wearing an Our Lady of the Rosary ring touches flowers on the Saint Sebastian pole that was paraded during the Azorean Culture Festival which celebrates the culture of the Azores, the Portuguese island chain in the mid-Atlantic, in Enseada de Brito, in Brazil's Santa Catarina southern state. People surround the pole to pull off the flowers and make their requests to St. Sebastian, known locally for helping those who are single find their match. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

ENSEADA DE BRITO, Brazil — On a sunny plaza looking out on the southern Atlantic, girls in green and red traditional skirts and boys in black pants and vests perform dances that traveled thousands of miles over that ocean more than two centuries ago.

The dancing is part of a festival held every November in southern Brazil to celebrate the culture of the Azores, the Portuguese island chain that lies in the mid-Atlantic. In the mid-18th century, several families from the archipelago migrated to settle on the coast of Brazil's Santa Catarina state and the festival reflects the resulting mix of Azorean culture and the native and African traditions encountered in Brazil.

During the two-day festival, held this year in Enseada de Brito, artisans showcase traditional crafts, including lace making and pottery. The communities of Santa Catarina have even preserved some artisanal methods since lost in the Azores themselves. Maria da Gloria Viana, a 68-year-old lace-maker, has traveled back to the island chain to teach the craft she learned in Brazil.

At the climax of the festival, a couple dressed in red robes and wearing crowns that represent the Portuguese emperor and his wife lead a colorful parade of attendants for a Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, wedged between emerald hills and the sea.

After the service, festival-goers pour out of the church to dance around the St. Sebastian pole while it is carried through town. The 10-yard-long (10-meter-long) wooden pole is decorated with local flowers and palm fronds. While it is paraded around, many drink "consertada," a mix of coffee, cinnamon and the Brazilian sugarcane liquor called cachaca. When the pole is finally laid down, people surround it to pull off the flowers and make their requests to St. Sebastian, known locally for helping those who are single find their match.

Andre Cordeiro, 20, who leads one of the singing and dancing groups that performed this year, says the festival helps to ensure that the traditions of the Azores aren't forgotten.

"We have to make sure that our culture always stays alive, not let it die," he said. "We are able to pass it on from generation to generation."

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