I mentioned years ago that the weekend I moved to Providence, the Pentecostal church down the street was having some kind of extravaganza the likes of which I had never seen. Then I never saw them again, and surmised that maybe the party was them saying goodbye to that church in favor of a newer, better building. My current situation has nothing to do with Pentecostals, however, but Portuguese Catholics.
Last year, when I was camping in upstate New York, the church down the street had some kind of hoopla. I heard about it via exclamation point-filled text messages from Gentleman Scholar, but didn’t really get the whole picture. Now I’m living with it, and I have to say– when will the merriment end?
It all began with the creepiest parade I’ve ever seen, which of course went right past my house. I took a video:
Sadly, I didn’t get the beginning of the parade when they carry the virgin on some kind of platform toward either the church or the mini carnival they set up in a parking lot, but the video does capture the creepiest voice in the world repeating “pray for us.” It’s like the female version of the voice in Fitter Happier. I can get past that, religious ceremonies are interesting, hearing music in Portuguese out my window at all hours makes me feel very urban and I’m glad they’re all so happy. The problem is, it’s been three days now.
It’s colored my whole existence. GS and I got into an argument about the origin of Chorizo, and the fact that I don’t know anything about Portuguese mourning customs (why would I?). Once a day, or more, we talk about what they’re up to, or a parade goes by, or we lament the fact that we’re just hanging out while they seem to be accomplishing so much–though we really can’t leave because they have parades all the time that basically make a ring around our house.
The parades happen with seemingly no rhyme or reason but they always have a police escort as they shuttle the virgin statue from church to someone’s house (this is according to Gentleman Scholar) then back to the church, or maybe just out for a walk–who the hell knows. I have no idea what they’re celebrating or how they know when they’re done celebrating, but today is VJ Day, which I think trumps this overly-elaborate merriment, but who knows. Rhode Island is known for both its religious tolerance, and for still celebrating VJ Day, perhaps they two shall overlap?