Meet, eat and move to the beat

Arthur Paulo is geared up for “A Taste of Portugal” Valentine’s dinner and dance at Our Lady of Fatima church hall on Elk Lake Drive.

Arthur Paulo is geared up for “A Taste of Portugal” Valentine’s dinner and dance at Our Lady of Fatima church hall on Elk Lake Drive.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Portuguese dinner/dance

Back in May 1971, Victoria’s Portuguese community feasted to celebrate Our Lady of Fatima, around a borrowed statue of the saint at the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Saanich.

In October that year, they celebrated with their own statue, blessed by Bishop Remi De Roo. The feast featured traditional foods, folk dancing and Portuguese music after each mass.

Since then, every May and October the Portuguese community has upheld the tradition.

Tomorrow (Feb. 12), in order to welcome the larger community, the parish is hosting “A Taste of Portugal” Valentine’s dinner and dance, with non-religious elements of Portuguese culture taking centre stage.

“I think that sometimes people think (a Portuguese celebration) is just for our community,” said Jan Paulo from the Our Lady of Fatima parish office on Elk Lake Drive. “It’s for everyone.”

The dinner features papo-seco (buns), galinha guizada (chicken), caçoila (pork ribs), fletes de peixe em molho verde (basa fillets in green sauce) and Chouriço (chorizo), prepared by Casa Nova catering.

“It would be nice for people from outside the Portuguese community to come and see what it’s like,” Paulo said, adding that their events have mainly been attended by the 3,500 people who make up that local ethnic group.

“When they come to experience the Portuguese culture, we’re hoping we will be able to entice them into our other festivals,” added Arthur Paulo, Jan’s husband, who is co-ordinating the dinner and dance. “Whether they practise religion or not, that’s not important.”

A Taste of Portugal starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Portuguese Hall, 4635 Elk Lake Dr. (near Saanich Commonwealth Place).

Money raised will go to Our Lady of Fatima, a registered charity. The evening includes door prizes and a silent auction.

Tickets must be purchased in advance. They cost $40 for adults, $20 for children aged six to 10, and children five and under are free. Call Jan Paulo at 250-658-1587 or Helder Ponte at 250-727-0623 for details.

nnorth@saanichnews.com