A few months ago we blogged about The Portuguese Blues.
The occasion then was Jessica Friedmann’s feature about The Vibe – as she calls the local feeling of ‘saudade’ – in The Australian Financial Review.
One of the locals she intervieved had a pretty good explanation behind the Portuguese’ joyful sadness:
Through sailors’ expeditions, and Portugal’s later troubled colonial endeavours, the sea brought back aspects of Brazilian and African languages and cultures that blended unexpectedly, but harmoniously, with its Moorish heritage.
“It’s like the tide: a wave goes out, a wave comes in” says Pires. “Everything became entwined, and we learnt the pleasure of seducing through language. Here, love and language are united. That’s why we’re poets”.
As sad as it gets: Ana Moura – Tens Os Olhos De Deus (With English subtitles)
We recognize this feeling, vibe, mood or whatever word that describes saudade. We feel it the fado… but we feel it even stronger here in Graca where all the poets used til live.
And tody we feel it in the weather as well… a perfect occasion to stay low, listen to Fado and read about saudade…
The Portuguese are content with their discontentment, and, in an odd but enlightening way, actually enjoy it.
As an American, I’ve been inculcated with the importance of being happy – or at least pretending to be happy – at all costs. It’s an ethos epitomized by the smiley face emoji, which is said to have been invented in the US in 1963, and empty expressions like “have a nice day”.
In Portugal, no one tells you to have a nice day. No one particularly cares if you have a nice day, because chances are they’re not having a nice day either. If you ask a Portuguese person how they’re doing, the most enthusiastic reply you can expect is mais ou menos (so so).
Read Eric Weiner’s The Country That Loves To Be Sad on BBC