Sanjon in Porto Novo


There is no other "Sonjon"feast in Cape Verde that matches the one in Porto Novo, on Santo Antão island. Those who experience this celebration cannot remain indifferent to its rhythms, smells, laughter and "sabura".

For those who are not aware, it is significant to mention that the Saint John Baptist’s feast is part of the national festivities and it is considered one of the most expressive elements of Cape Verdean culture. In Porto Novo, where it is their patron saint, this feast is celebrated with all the splendor it deserves.

The magic of the Saint John feast brings with it a breath of fresh air to the quiet city of Porto Novo. This celebration represents cultural, religious and economic achievements. Therefore, it is in this festive day that people have the opportunity to earn some money they have not been able to get in the previous months.




Abafadouro is the place where most of the activities are centralized. It is occupied by a variety of tents transformed into "restaurants", where you can find traditional delicacies: sausages, green corn, funguim, cuzcuz, roast beef, among other foods. You can also find grog, a drink that flames the blood of the drummers and makes them gain energy to knock the drum in an indescribable way.

The place is so crowded that the terraces of the houses turn into real nightclubs, compensating the lack of space. The local entities plan the activities previously to ensure success.

Besides, "sonjon é revoltiod" which means there’s more, the feast does not end immediately.

There are several events to entertain the visitors such as: the agri livestock fair, athleticism, boat racing and the traditional horse race. Different places of the city and the rural area of ​​Ribeira das Patas get together in a parade of Sanjon to relive the historical past.

A past time experienced by our ancestors who are the origin of the pilgrimage in Porto Novo.


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The women wear old costumes, with silk scarves and aprons tied around their waist and baskets on their heads, filled with food and drink. The men are dressed in trousers rolled up to their knees, carrying branches duly decorated with manioc, green banana, sugar cane flowers ...

At this point, people are already enthusiastic by the rhythms of the drum, dance the sanjon and shout "oh sabe! Cola san jon!”

It´s a sublime celebration, anyone will like it! 

The high moment of all the festivities is the 20km pilgrimage from Ribeira das Patas to the city of Porto Novo, made by thousands of people, not only from Santo Antão but also from other islands and the diaspora.

During the pilgrimage, it is not surprising to see people dressed in sackcloth, people with large stones on their heads or with jars full of beans, corn, and various seeds. The seeds represent not only an appeal to the rain, the good sowing and bonanza but also an appeal to health, peace, love and work, elements of great need for them.

The Saint is welcomed with great joy by the people and soon after, taken to the chapel of the church where, according to legend, "Sonjon" saw that Porto Novo was crowded so he fled from there to Ribeira das Patas.

The climax of the feast is the religious cult and the religious procession. The streets, once almost empty, now is crowded with people.

The Saint John Feast fascinates, attracts and enchants people ... It's worth the visit!

@Aníria Teixeira

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