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Ethnography | Santa Cruz

Dough dolls


The famous pasta dolls originate from Santa Cruz, more precisely from the parish of Caniço. This craft work is made from flour, water, yeast and egg coloring to give it a yellowish color, and was commonly found in popular folk festivals, called arraiais.

In the past, women with less economic possibilities, when making bread, used the leftovers to create dough dolls that served as toys for children of the time. While entertaining the children, the dolls worked as a great entertainment, even if they were ingested by the little ones would not be harmful to their health. These days, the dolls of dough are decorated with colorful ribbons, imitating clothes, and seeds to create the eyes and make them more beautiful and realistic.

Camacha Folklore

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Following the emergence of various folk groups on Madeira Island, the Camacha People's House Folklore Group was founded on November 1, 1948. Over the years, the group has been hosting a number of balls and songs that make this group one of the best known and most appreciated in Madeira, having been awarded a silver medal and diploma of merit by the Regional Government in 1981. In addition to these activities, the group also seeks to keep the Madeiran traditions alive by participating in other activities such as: singing of kings, traditional Madeiran games, and participation in traditional Christmas cribs.

In addition to the participation of this group in popular festivals and tourism animation of the island, the Camacha Folkloric Group has participated in various festivals around the world, in places such as South Africa, United States of America, Venezuela, Brazil and Australia.

The women's outfit consists of a linen shirt, red waistcoat and short shoulder-length cape of the same color, red-bottomed skirt with vertically overlapping colors, the typical dark blue hood and the ground boot. The men's costume is a little simpler, consisting of white shirt and shorts, both in linen, a waist band, blue hood and ground boots.

This Folkloric Group consists of about 35 elements, which use various musical instruments, such as the wire guitar, rajão and braguinha for being part of the Madeiran tradition, as well as triangle, harmonica and bass drum, among other instruments.


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It is estimated that wickerwork was developed on the island of Madeira in the mid-19th century. There are several versions regarding the appearance of the wicker work in the region, while some argue that the wicker came to Madeira island under the influence of the English, who predominantly chose the area of Camacha and Santo da Serra to reside and implemented this type of handicraft there. Others argue that the wicker work was introduced to the island of Madeira through a Camacheiro who was arrested in northern Portugal, and when he returned to his homeland he introduced this art to the locality.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, wicker work assumed a very important role in the region's economy, being the second most exported product to various destinations, such as the United States of America, South Africa and Italy.

The wicker comes from a plant called the wicker, is planted and harvested two to three years later between February and April. There are several transformation processes until wicker can be used in this art.

If the objective is to obtain the wicker in white color, it is placed to dry for 2 to 3 months, is peeled and is ready to be used. If we want to obtain it in black color, the wicker is placed to dry in the sun with the bark. In the case of brown (most usual) the wicker is cooked in large cauldrons for 4 to 5 hours and then peeled and separated by size. In order to be ready for use, it is necessary to transform the wicker into a workable lyca, a process that can be observed on the lower floor of Café Relógio wicker shop, located right in the center of Camacha, in this small factory where we can watch the production of Several wicker pieces.

House bread

The bread is present on the table of Madeiran families from very early, it is estimated that in the fifteenth century was already considered a key element in the population's diet. The Madeiran people were a people closely linked to agriculture, the planting of cereals not only for their own consumption, but also for sale. Once ground, the cereals were used for food, essentially to make bread. Over time the recipes changed and the sweet potato was included in the bread making.

Given the increase in cereal production, mills were also created to facilitate the milling of cereals which, after a process of transformation, would finally be ready for use in bread making. The mills were usually owned by the wealthier families, the landlords, and in order to use them the people would give back products from the land, or part of the grain they would grind, so that they could enjoy the mill.

Gaula is a parish that was very early linked to agriculture, as such the cultivation of cereals, and later its use in the making of bread was a constant in this parish, making Gaula's house bread very well known.

Cider / Apple


The parish is from Santo António da Serra is especially known for its apple production, where much of this production is used in the manufacture of Sidra, an alcoholic beverage produced from this fruit, which eventually became a symbol of the municipality of Santa Cruz. The story goes that the fact that the parish is made up of many farms, it attracted many Englishmen who ended up residing in this place, bringing with it some specialties, such as cider. Thus, probably the English introduced the cultivation of apple, with Madeira being the only region in the country to use apples to turn them into cider. Cider production follows a handcrafted method, the apples are placed in large wooden containers, and then crushed by a stomp.

Formerly the inhabitants of the lowlands of Santa Cruz and Machico climbed to Santo da Serra and exchanged the apple, which was stored in chests or wooden boxes, or simply extended in the attic of the house or stored under the bed, and the apples were exchanged for other goods such as fish.

Today, the Cider Regional Sample is held every year, with the aim of maintaining this centuries-old tradition and honoring the farmers who grow this product.

Today there are still small establishments, also known as sales "vendas" that sell the famous cider in Santo da Serra. Next to the hotel Enotel Santo da Serra is the oldest establishment selling Sidra, dating from 1920.

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