From the north to the south of Portugal, our country is full of traditions that deserve to be preserved and passed on to younger generations.
This year there are ten more projects that will be supported by EDP under the Traditions Program.
It is said that it is impossible to escape our past. And the truth is that, just as each of us is the result of our experiences, also the history of a country, of a people or even of a community, is written with the letters of experience and traditions. There are origins that are lost to time, but if today we cannot go by without a conventual, delicious sweet for dessert, if we cannot dispense the sardines in the festivities of the popular saints, or even if we like to decorate our houses with the famous carpets from Arraiolos, it's because someone created these traditions, that were passed along until they reached us.
But although the past and the present are two intertwined threads, there are many traditions that, unfortunately, are being forgotten. The fact that, today, information circulates almost at the speed of light, makes it that ancestral arts of our country fall quicker into oblivion. Immediatism and the ephemeral have taken over our lives, and the links we have established through technology, increasingly leave aside the search for relations with the past and with our roots. And the difficulty in preserving traditions increases even further when the entities that want to do so, do not have the necessary financial means for that.
This is where the EDP Traditions Program comes in.
Six years helping to keep our origins alive
It was born in 2015 and is one of the most important national programs to support Portuguese culture. Traditions "is the only program in the Portuguese business sphere that works to preserve local memories and customs", explains Helena Gomes, the manager of this Program. The project was created by EDP taking into account feedback from communities, who often asked for programs to help them develop their regions. In addition to wanting to strengthen close relations between the brand and the communities, Tradições is an initiative that aims to fund and monitor projects that value and safeguard national traditions, helping to develop the regions of the country where they are present, by means of creating a sustainable future in which innovation lives allied to popular origin and culture.
"It is important that there are more and more initiatives like this of EDP, which cares about the cultural and historical richness of Portuguese communities, and goes in search of reviving these same traditions." Helena Gomes, manager of the Tradições Program
Translated into figures, throughout the previous three editions, the Traditions Program supported 36 projects with a total amount of 530 thousand euros. With a direct impact on 25 municipalities, EDP's investment has already helped to leverage more than 1 million euros in communities, and some of the winning projects have even been nominated for the list of Seven Wonders of Portuguese Popular Culture.
Winners of the 4th edition
First, all the applications were analyzed by a consultant to verify that they met the basic requirements; then, they were taken to a jury that, using a variety of criteria, made a qualitative evaluation of the projects and selected some potential winners; to finish it off, these project were evaluated by another jury, external to EDP, and composed by personalities of the sociocultural area, who designated the big winners. It was this rigorous selection process that led to the choice of projects that will be supported by EDP this year.
Of the 68 applications, which arrived from all over the country, 10 were selected: Memories and Traditions of the Estrela World Geopark of UNESCO, House of Memory of Sines, Safeguard and Revitalization of the Traditional Arts of the Tabuleiros Fest, Bailes Mandados, Itinerary of Wisdoms and Tastes of Homes, "Os Barrocos" of Paranhos da Beira and Carvalhal da Louça Pottery, Papachurra - Revitalizing the Pope's Blanket Made with Churra Wool, Little School of Silk, Artesanal Linen and Imperial Festivities of the Divine Spirit of Santo de Alenquer.
These projects were chosen for their historical and social relevance, and their impact on job creation and sustainability in the region. They will now be supported with an amount of 213 000 EUR for the development of the promotion actions they have set out to carry. The goal is, not only to recover nearly extinct arts and customs, but also to promote the memory of these traditions, and to help pass them on from generation to generation, contributing to the appreciation of the community.
The financial support given by EDP will serve to help realize future plans, such as creating collections of information to spread awareness of traditions, developing workshops to empower communities, organizing visits to points of interest, the creation of partnerships that help energize projects, training labor or even rehabilitating installations to improve work conditions. But, although each project has its own ideas, there is a purpose that permeates them all: The goal of creating a sense of belonging in the community, and leading younger people to create and maintain a relationship with their roots. This does not always mean the use of more modern technology and techniques.
When it comes to the transmission of intangible heritage, it is natural that the ways of experiencing tradition change over time. And, although it is important for EDP that projects adopt more modern and digital content in order to reach a larger audience, the truth is that there isn't always a need or capacity on the projects' part. Thus, "what we try is for traditions to be transmitted, whenever possible, to younger generations and, with the natural curiosity that this audience provides, we will have different and innovative ways to live these same traditions," explains Helena Gomes.
And we believe that the success of this Programme is due precisely for the fact that EDP's intentions always go hand in hand with the feelings of those who want to preserve the traditions of their land: "This prize is very important to us, not only for the monetary part (...), but essentially because of the motivational part, that appreciates the value of our traditions, our roots and our collective identity. It allows for a community to come together, work and ensure the preservation of what is ours, that defines us, and that somehow connects us forever... and that in this way will continue to live on", says Fernanda Recares Santos, president of Sociedade de Instrução e Recreio de Lares, one of the winning projects.
What the future holds
It is already official: The fifth edition of the Traditions Program is guaranteed, and the goal is to do even more and better. For now, plans are about getting more and more younger people to gain an interest in what is traditional and, the fact that vintage is 'in' again, it can be a great asset.
"Technology coupled with rural activities and heritage is now in vogue, which can make young people, with their spirit of adventure and entrepreneurship, want to grab on projects of this kind. It is very rewarding for us to see that there are already students who take the projects that these entities develop as their own. Not only local young people, but also from all over the country and across borders, people are beginning to show interest in integrating the small communities from which these traditions originate. It gives us hope and to the communities also, because the new generations are a fundamental piece in the future development of these traditions", afirma Helena Gomes.