The Portuguese Rooster and the Christmas pine tree


When I was a child and lived in Braga, a city just a few kilometers from Barcelos, the city where the Barcelos rooster was bred, my father used to go to the forest to get a pine tree to be our Christmas tree. My mother had Christmas ornaments made of glass, which were very resistant. Today they no longer exist. In addition to pine cones and balls and such, there were also ribbons and cotton balls. When we received holiday cards I would try to balance them on the pine needles and it would sting my hands all over! When I drew the pine tree in this illustration, I remembered that and the churches I saw in Barcelos...

This festive and colorful Rooster(=Galo) who follows behind the wheel of his blue car is the national non-official symbol of Portugal and stands for honesty, faith, justice, and luck. To understand why you must know the legend of the Rooster of Barcelos. There are several versions of the legend of the Rooster of Barcelos but they are all more or less the same. It goes like this.

Once upon a time, Barcelos's inhabitants were alarmed by a crime - someone had stolen a silver piece from an important landowner. Suspicion fell on a stranger from the neighboring Spanish province of Galiza. He was just passing by on his way to worship St. Tiago of Compostela following a pilgrimage route also known as the Way of St James, which is still walked by devout Christians to this day. Nobody believed him but he kept saying he was innocent. He was imprisoned and condemned to death by hanging. 

As for the last request, he asked to see the Judge once more to beg for his life. When he arrived at the Judge's house he was eating a fine meal with guests. Again, the magistrate did not believe him, he just laughed and said, So you say you're innocent?!! The pilgrim told him that he was, he was innocent, he could swear it before God! He looked everyone in the eye but no one showed him any mercy. All his pleas of innocence fell on deaf ears. 

Then he saw a servant carrying in a large platter with a roasted rooster. He reached him and fell to his knees. Good Lord, he implored, as sure as I'm innocent, so will this rooster crow! The Judge sent him to death as nothing happened in the following minutes. But when the man was about to die in the gibbet the dead rooster stood up on the table and crowed! It was a sign of God! 

The Judge proclaimed that a lesson should be learned, that is, never to sit in quick judgment of our fellow man. The pilgrim was immediately set free and the rooster, henceforth, became a reminder and a symbol of honesty, faith, justice, and good luck. 

Years later the pilgrim returned to the town of Barcelos to carve the Cruzeiro do Senhor do Galo which is now a part of the Museu Arqueológico in Barcelos. 

The rooster of Barcelos stands for :

Honesty - because the pilgrim was innocent and therefore God provided him a miracle. 

Faith - because the pilgrim had faith in God and so he was saved. 

Justice - because justice was made. This legend teaches that we should avoid making snap judgments or accusations without evidence.

 Luck - because the rooster brought the innocent pilgrim good luck. 

That's why the Cockerel of Barcelos is also called The good luck rooster, or Lucky rooster. If the rooster brought good luck to the pilgrim, who knows, maybe it will bring us a little luck? Maybe that's why he became so popular, everyone wants some of the pilgrim's good luck. Therefore, when you visit Portugal, you will see that it is everywhere.


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