It is believed that the ritual of the oxen fight (chegas de bois), is linked to the belief that the Greek god Dionisio could assume the physical form of the bull, as a symbolic representation of masculinity and bravery. It was from the reminiscence of the Dionysian pagan festivals, common to different cultures in Europe and Africa, that oxen fight evolved, reaching today as a spectacle activity, present annually in the summer festivals and exceptionally in events of great importance, as is the case, of the Pork Gastronomic Fair in Boticas.

It is believed that the ritual of the oxen fight, is linked to the belief that the Greek god Dionisio could assume the physical form of the bull, as a symbolic representation of masculinity and bravery.

Photo TR/VB

The principle of oxen fight is simple, it is a matter of approaching two males, who will keep their heads together to determine the strongest. Recreating a natural process in which animals observe each other, exhibit their corpulence (these imposing animals may weigh more than a ton) and eventually measure forces, through the headrest, just enough for one of them to feel disadvantaged, that is, show signs of retreat.

a-chega-de-bois
Photo TR/VB

In some cases, the dominant animal will briefly chase the weakest, enough to confirm its power. The oxen fight can take several minutes, like just a few seconds (or not happen at all if the oxen refuse to fight), occurring between two animals and determining the winner, in successive rounds until the champion is found. Rarely do these fights imply any kind of injury to any of the animals.

Rarely do these fights imply any kind of injury to any of the animals.

The oxen fight took place, in the past, among the oxen of the people of different villages. At stake, more than the fame of the winning ox, was the image of each village. The people’s oxen were replaced by private oxen, but the mystique surrounding these shows of strength and skill is the same. These fights continue to attract crowds.

Sources: Câmara Municipal de Boticas 2006, Preservação dos Hábitos Comunitários nas Aldeias do Concelho de Boticas, Boticas; Wikipédia / Photography: XXII Feira Gastronómica do Porco de Boticas – TR/VB