Portuguese trivia (VI)

marafonaMeet the marafona. If you go to Monsanto (or anywhere near it, actually) you’ll see these dolls being sold as a souvenir. So what’s so special about them?

I mentioned these dolls before but I really think they should have a post of their own. Marafonas are typical from Monsanto, in Central Portugal, but the concept can be found both in the North and the South of the country as well. They’re a good example of how a mix of pre-Christian and Christian traditions survived until today.

On the one hand the structure of the doll is a simple wooden cross. On the other hand they were traditionally kept on the bed, protecting the house from thunderstorms and the evil eye, acting somehow like a totem or amulet. They were given to young women and put under the newlyweds bed on the wedding night to bring them good luck: the dolls have no eyes to see and no mouth to speak, so the couple’s secrets would be safe with them.

Does your country also have a mix of different religious/cultural traditions that have stood the test of time? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!


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