There’s a village in Portugal called Vale de Salgueiro, and it’s the most remote one from Lisbon. Therefore, its reputation in the country is not that crystal clear. The population of Vale de Salgueiro is only four hundred people, and some of them still honor some religious customs (with a twist of Paganism), which all modern and, most importantly, sane Portuguese have long abandoned.
For instance, let’s take the Christian festival of Epiphany, which the Catholics celebrate on January 6. There’s a tradition that will, to say the least, shock all the readers of this article (especially if you care for children’s rights and are an ardent fighter against smoking). On the Feast of The Three Kings in Vale de Salgueiro, parents encourage their children to smoke. Even five-year-old are looking for someone to give them a light for a cigarette. In all the photos depicting this mess, you can see that small Portuguese take this tradition with great enthusiasm and look utterly satisfied.
Adults believe that if you let children smoke during this holiday, they will not start smoking later and basically will not have enough time to get used to the cigarettes. The locals do not remember where this tradition came from and what it symbolizes at all. One of the old-timers, an 88-year-old Eduardo Augusto, recalls that even his grandfather spoke nicely of the tradition, meaning that it is no less than two hundred years old.
Jose Ribeirinha, an author who wrote a book on the Vale do Salgueiro festivities, says that this tradition is associated with the pagan holiday of rebirth. Perhaps, this tradition could have been quite logical if children would have quit smoking the next day, take up sport, and simply lead a healthy lifestyle.