I've mentioned the repúblicas of Coimbra before: student social groups engaged in community and university-related activities residing in various houses throughout the city. The closest American equivalent would be college fraternities and sororities, but comparing the two is like apples and oranges. It is said that the experiences from living one year in a república are equal to 100 years worth in the rest of the world. Hence, the idea of the annual Centenário - a huge celebration honoring the bonds between past and current members, along with their family and friends. There is eating, drinking, laughing, and music and it goes all night and into the afternoon of the next day.
There is a lot of preparation that goes into a Centenário celebration before any partying can take place. Prior to the actual day, a thorough cleaning and multiple renovations were taking place in the building, meetings occurred with alumni regarding house business, and members had to come up with an ad and a song to announce the upcoming event to all the other repúblicas. On top of this, they worked with the house cook to gather supplies and create plate after plate of mouthwatering food for the special evening meal, all while doing homework and studying for tests. It's really amazing to watch everyone come together to make something great happen.
After the meal was more or less over people gathered inside, drinking and talking, while members of Rápo-Táxo attached the newest artwork (with a curtain obscuring it from view) to the wall. Eventually people stopped talking as the speeches and songs began. Each república has its own house song that is sung by its members on special occasions.
Later, the artwork was unveiled. It incorporates a cartoon version the república's pot logo along with a decree and nicknames for all the current members.
Another piece of artwork was created in honor of the house chef and basically all-around-mom to the students, Elisabeta, who was overwhelmed with happiness and surprise when she saw it. Later, Edgar, an amazing one person band who can sing and play several instruments at a time, took the stage in Rápo-Táxo's living room singing songs from my teen years.
Eventually after an amazing evening, we ended up feeling the same as the dog and left to head home, but the party kept going, as folks both young and old continued to pile into the courtyard. Being a part of these customs has opened our eyes to a wonderful world where people of all ages can come together peacefully, can share drinks and have interesting conversations until late into the night even if they just met. No one starts a fight, no one gets violently offended about different points of view, and no one gets so drunk they're passed out or puking or crying. In fact, everyone seems to be friendly, kind, and helpful, which is really wonderful and something I am just starting to get used to.
Here's to many more centenários at Rápo-Táxo and years for me in Portugal!