A Queima das Fitas: Um Ritual Dos Alunos Universitarios

By Mariana Do Carmo BR’17

Each country has its own unique graduation ceremonies/ rituals for university students. Portugal’s involves a week of fun and festivities led by the graduating class for all members of the community to enjoy.

ORIGINAL

Em 1899 a Universidade de Coimbra, uma das universidades mais antigas de Portugal, começou um ritual chamado a “Queima das Fitas”. As fitas eram usadas nas pastas ou sebentas dos estudantes pré­finalistas, e cada faculdade, como a de letras, direito, ou medicina, tinha uma cor diferente para as suas fitas. O significado de queimar as fitas é o atingir de uma meta, a graduação. Este evento é uma festa que acontece todos os anos no mês de Maio quando os finalistas das universidades portuguesas celebram a sua semana académica. Consoante a região do país, assim lhe dão diferentes nomes. Por exemplo, no norte do país chamam­lhe o “Enterro da Gata”.

Durante a semana da Queima das Fitas, como manda a tradição, seguem­se vários eventos divertidos todos os dias. Existe a Garraiada, onde os alunos mostram com orgulho as suas fitas numa arena antes de começar a tourada. Durante a Serenata canta­se o fado e a canção de Coimbra. Nesse dia os padrinhos, que são os alunos que estão a graduar, traçam as capas aos seus afilhados caloiros, que as vestem pela primeira vez. O Chá Dançante é um baile envolto em mistério. A fanfarra académica começa a atuar e os estudantes, vestidos de gala e bengala, partem o cenário. O Cortejo é um desfile de carros alegóricos que transportam os estudantes, vestidos a rigor com a sua capa e batina pretas (parecidas ás do Harry Potter), e onde não falta a sátira política e social. Os finalistas passam a saudar a multidão, onde os seus pais se enchem de orgulho vendo passar os seus novos Doutores. Eventos mais formais incluem o Baile de Gala das Faculdades e a Venda da Pasta, uma atividade solidaria em que os finalistas fazem vendas para ajudar instituições de caridade.

Embora popular agora, a Queima das Fitas foi interrompida durante a ditadura portuguesa por um grupo de alunos revoltados com o governo de Salazar. Pararam com estes rituais académicos num período que durou dois anos chamado o “Luto Académico”. A seguir á Revolução de Abril de 1974, quando foi instalada a democracia em Portugal, os estudantes continuaram todas estas tradições até os nossos dias.

TRANSLATION

In 1899, the University of Coimbra, one of Portugal’s oldest universities, began a ritual known as the Burning of the Ribbons. These ribbons were a part of the folders where students who were about to graduate had kept their notes and documents throughout the school years. Each of the University’s faculties, such as those of languages, the law, or medicine, had ribbons with their own respective colors. Burning the ribbons symbolizes achieving a goal, namely that of graduating and moving on to thrive and succeed in the real world. The Burning of the Ribbons is an event that occurs every year during the month of May, when the graduating class celebrates their “academic week,” which takes place at the end of their classes and about one month before the start of their final exams. Depending on the region of the country, this ritual may go by other names, such as the Burying of the Cat in the north.

During the week of the Burning of the Ribbons, tradition calls for various enjoyable events to take place every day. There exists the Garraiada, in which the students show off their ribbons with pride in an arena just before a bullfight takes place. Later on, serenades occur during which students sing Fado, the traditional Portuguese version of the blues, as well as the song of their university. On that day, the graduating class takes on the role of the “godparents” of the first year students, adorning their godchildren with their own robes for the first time. The Dancing Tea is a party shrouded in mystery, during which the academic fanfare plays, and the students, dressed in black robes and sporting canes, destroy some of the props in the room. The Cortejo is a parade of allegoric cars that transport enthusiastic students. This parade involves plenty of social and political satire. Members of the graduating class usually travel in one of the floats, dressed in black robes reminiscent of those in Harry Potter, waving to a crowd in which they will often find their proud parents waving back. Formal events include a ball, known as the Baile de Gala das Faculdades, and the Selling of the Folders, a solidary activity during which the graduating students fundraise for charities.

Even though it is popular now, the Burning of the Ribbons was interrupted during the Portuguese dictatorship by a group of students who were dissatisfied by the Dictator Salazar’s political reign. They put an end to this ritual over a period of time known as the luto académico, the mourning of academics. However, after the Revolution of April 1974, when Portugal became a democracy, the students resumed these traditional celebrations, and they have been maintained alive and eventful to this day.

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