Wednesday, 20 February 2013

American Suburbanite in Portugal: The legend of Barcelos

A rooster in Obidos  
Go into any souvenir shop in Portugal and you will notice little brightly painted roosters.  Its like there is a "Beyonce, the giant metal chicken" for everyone!  After our third visit (if you count our port stop in Lisbon during our cruise) I finally decided to look into the meaning of these little cockerels.  We were in Lisbon on our next to the last day and we found the legend printed on a cork post card.  I didn't even read it at the time because I wasn't wearing my glasses. 

The next day was our last day and we kept ourselves very busy and tried to get to bed early for our 0415 check out to head to the airport for our 07~ flight.  So I don't think I actually read it until I was unpacking our luggage on the Monday.  

When I finally read the legend I was quite pleased it had nothing to do with cock fighting and machismo.  It dates back to the 13th century and comes from the village of Barcelos in northern Portugal.  A man was accused of stealing, in a time and place when theft was prosecuted and death by hanging was the penalty.  The man proclaimed his innocence, time and time again.  He requested a final meeting with the judge before his hanging.  As the judge was just getting served his supper, the man told the he was innocent and if he was killed, the cockerel on his plate would crow.  The judge was not convinced but the cockerel crowed and the man was immediately set free.  Talk about salmonella threat!  For a slightly more elegant telling of the legend, check out the Wikepedia or Cascais travel websites. 

Our Postcard made of Cork

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