Queima das Fitas

Queima das Fitas

The Queima das Fitas (Portuguese for Burning of the Ribbons) is a traditional festivity of the students of some Portuguese universities, organized originally by the students of the University of Coimbra.


The first "Queima das Fitas" was organized by the students of the University of Coimbra, which is the oldest university of the country, and for many centuries the only one in Portugal.


Coimbra's Queima das Fitas, the oldest and most famous, is organized by a students' commission formed by members of the students' union Associação Académica de Coimbra. Celebrating the end of graduation courses, symbolized by the ritual burning of the ribbons representing each faculty of the University of Coimbra (UC), it takes place at the second semester (around May), being among the biggest student festivities in Europe. It lasts for 8 days, one for each UC's Faculty: Letters, Law, Medicine, Sciences & Technology, Pharmacy, Economics, Psychology & Education Sciences and Sports Sciences & Physical Education. During this period, a series of concerts and performances are held, turning Coimbra in a lively and vibrant city. It also includes a parade of the university students, sport activities, gala ball, and many other public events and traditions, such as the historical nighttime student fado serenade (Serenata Monumental) which happens in the stairs of the Old Cathedral of Coimbra for a crowd of thousands of students, tourists and other spectators.

The Ribbon Burning festivities are the big yearly celebration for the students and townspeople as well. The festivities run for a full week in May beginning with the traditional nighttime fado serenade in the square of the Old Cathedral of Coimbra. The square is packed with students in their black capes and according to the ritual, studies are forgotten for a week of joy and all-night revelry. The high point of the festivities is the "Cortejo", a parade beginning in "Alta" (upper Coimbra, the university historic centre and home to the Rector's Office and the famous University tower) with the graduating students burning their "grelo". The parade progresses down the hills of the "Alta" towards the "Baixa" (downtown Coimbra, near the river) with dozens of elaborately decorated floats, each in the color of their respective faculties, carrying placards with ironic criticisms alluding to certain teachers, the educational system, national events and leaders. The parade is made up of thousands of "newly liberated" students set apart by their top hats and walking sticks.

After the outbreak in 1969 of a crisis opposing the students to the dictatorial government of António de Oliveira Salazar, the festivities, as well as all other manifestations of the academic traditions, were suspended by the students as an act of protest. This was known as the "luto académico" (Portuguese for academic mourning). The restarting of the celebrations took place in 1980, in the middle of an intense political controversy between left-wing students who opposed the celebration, and conservative students, who wanted to resume the practice. Such struggle took some time to heal, but the "Queima das Fitas" is now only contested by a small fringe of the more radical left-wing student movements.

Nowadays the beer industry has become an important sponsor of Coimbra's Queima das Fitas, which has given still a wider projection to the festival, quite popular among young people from all around the country and even from Spain. During the festival's week groups of students from other universities, such as Lisbon or Porto, among thousands of other visitors, come to enjoy it. This growth in popularity has involved significant change to the festival, ever more professionalized, moving it a great distance away from its origins at the end of the 19th century. Students of more traditionalist or leftist sensibilities have occasionally decried this as an increased commercialization and commodification of their "mystique" and traditions. Reportedly, during Coimbra's Queima das Fitas, more beer is drank during one week than Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.fact|date=August 2008


Porto's Queima das Fitas, is a major event on the second week of May, before the beginning of the study period preceding the school year's last exams. The week comprehends 12 events, starting with the Monumental Serenata on Sunday, reaching its peak with the Cortejo Académico on Tuesday, when students from the universities and other higher education institutions of the city march through the downtown streets till they reach the city hall. During every night of the week a series of concerts takes place on the Queimódromo, next to the city's park; here it's also a tradition for the students in the second last year to erect small tents where alcoholic beverages are sold in order to finance the trip that takes place during the last year of their course.

ee also

* Festa das Latas
* University of Coimbra
* Associação Académica de Coimbra
* Rádio Universidade de Coimbra (RUC)
* Praxe
* Coimbra

External links

*pt icon [http://www.aac.uc.pt/mcv/queima/queima.htm About Queima das Fitas] , from Associação Académica de Coimbra's webpage.
* [http://www.uc.pt/ Universidade de Coimbra]
*pt icon [http://www.aac.uc.pt/ Associação Académica de Coimbra]
*pt icon [http://www.cm-coimbra.pt/ Coimbra's Municipality]
*pt icon [http://www.ruc.pt/ Rádio Universidade de Coimbra (radio channel)]
*pt icon [http://www.regiaocentro.net/lugares/coimbra/universidade/queimafitas/ Queima das Fitas history]
*pt icon [http://www.fap.pt/ FAP - Federação Académica do Porto]
*pt icon [http://www.fap.pt/index.php?ch_site=queima Queima das Fitas do Porto - FAP]
*en icon [http://www.travelblog.org/Europe/Portugal/Coimbra/blog-156771.html Pictures and opinions about Queima das Fitas (Coimbra) - travelblog.org]

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