The Cantarinha of Guimarães’ is a gift widely offered by the time of São Valentim, thus keeping an old tradition alive which is currently fed by the hands of masters of the pottery.
According to tradition, when a boy was ready to make the official marriage proposal, he first offered his girl a cantarinha, molded in clay. If the gift was accepted, the private request was formalized, and the announcement of the engagement depended only on the parents’ wishes. Once the consent was given, the cantarinha then served to keep the gifts that the groom and the bride’s parents offered, namely gold pieces.
Currently, the cantarinha are no longer properly used to ask someone for a hand or to store jewelry, but are assumed to be “guardians” of secrets and love stories. “Whoever offers them, does so because of the symbolism they contain”, is made of red clay sprinkled with white mica.
There are the big Cantarinhas, symbol of abundance, of the future, of hope. And the small Cantarinha, symbol of real life, of the uncertainties of the future and the small happiness of everyday life.
The Cantarinha was used, as well as valentine’s handkerchiefs, (October 14th article) as a symbol of acceptance or rejection of a dating / engagement request. If there was parental consent, the engagement was announced and the dowry treated, and the gifts offered to the bride and groom were placed in Cantarinha (gold cords, trancelets, crosses, hearts). Another version says that raffles were placed inside Cantarinha. The girl then took one at random that corresponded to a gift. Cantarinha of lovers is the most common name, but two more are added: Cantarinha of the gifts and Cantarinha of Guimarães.
In addition to its significance as a matchmaking object, which is its great attribute, Cantarinha dos Namorados is also a pottery product of excellence in terms of Portuguese handicrafts. Made of red clay baked for seven hours, and ornamented with small flourishes, there is an undeniable elegance when we look at it, and we understand why the girls who received this artifact in their hands melt.
It is made up of three parts: the base singlet, clearly larger, representing the couple’s prosperity; the little song that overlaps this one, noticeably smaller, symbolizing the problems that any pair of newlyweds or couples have to face; and finally, the shot is made with a bird, which some say is the secret keeper of the relationship.