We are going to talk about the curious Legend of the Barcelos Rooster, very famous in Portugal. Is it the same one sold in stores?
In this short text, I want to talk to you about something that I loved since my first trip to Portugal. It is a singular rooster, which appeared everywhere. Little late in knowing that it was the famous rooster symbol of the country. Here I leave you with the curious legend of the Rooster of Barcelos.
Warning: let’s be honest, we can’t take the legend literally, it’s just a legend and the rooster is charming.
Why is he from Barcelos?
The word Barcelos comes from the fact that the legend is located on a cruise that was built in the town of Barceliños, which is part of the municipality of Barcelos. Today it is known as Cruzeiro do Senhor do Galo (Cruise of the Lord of the Rooster). According to what is said, that cruise was sculpted by the pilgrim who stars in the story that follows.
The legend of the Rooster of Barcelos
Now yes, here comes the long-promised legend of the Rooster of Barcelos that I saw everywhere in Portugal, which made me scream GALLITOOOOOOO (Roosteeeeeeeeeeer) every time I passed by a souvenir shop window. He really is a national symbol! (and it looks beautiful in kitchens).
It is said that on one day, a pilgrim left Barcelos on his way to Santiago de Compostela. He was accused of a crime, even though he was innocent. He was tried and sentenced to be hung, swearing innocence. On the day of his execution, the Judge was preparing to eat a roast rooster in the presence of the condemned man. Desperate, he cried out for justice, exclaiming: “If I am innocent, the rooster will rise and crow three times.” Everyone laughed at this statement. When it was time for the hanging, the rooster got up and crowed. The judge immediately released him. Today, the rooster of Barcelos is known throughout the world and this legend is perpetual.
Well, I have to admit that “known throughout the world” is not true, since here in Mexico nothing is known about this rooster, at least I was unaware of it until that moment. Either way, it’s a nice legend.
The legend of the Barcelos Rooster and the souvenir
Although digging a little deeper, it turns out that the famous figure of the Barcelos rooster that is sold everywhere in Portugal, is not exactly the one from the legend. Rather, it was a quite convenient association that happened during the 20th century.
The legend of the Señor del Gallo cruise was known for a long time. Objectively, until 1963, it had nothing to do geographically, chronologically or mentally with the figure of the ceramic rooster that tourism launched and developed so much. In that year, F. Pires de Lima published a book on The Legend of the Rooster of Barcelos and the Miracle of the Hanged Man (Lisbon, 1963), which was followed by a local conference, where this author attempted a comparative study of that narrative and affirmed the possibility that there was a relationship between the legendary rooster and the ceramic one. It may seem, but, until that moment, there was no connection. But that was enough for part of the local population to believe it, and the tour agents and guides to spread it more. And the rooster, which was already a symbol of the city of Barcelos and had little ancestry and was even embarrassing for being a simple phenomenon of the Barcelos fair and tourism, was left with a desired religious origin. And so, the myth was born.Carlos Almeida, chronicler of Barcelos
For whatever reason, but nowadays, that Rooster is a Portuguese symbol and the Portuguese themselves display it with pride.