Five-Year-Olds Smoke Cigarettes For ‘Traditional’ Christian Celebration
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States.
It is the cause of more than 480,000 deaths every year, or 1 of every 5 deaths.
So it beggars belief that in the village of Vale de Salgueiro in Portugal, children as young as five smoke cigarettes during Epiphany celebrations.
The village’s Epiphany event, called Kings’ Feast, features the tradition and has caused a huge outcry across the world.
Locals say that practice is a centuries-old tradition, although nobody is sure what it symbolizes.
Parents willingly buy packs of cigarettes for their children and encourage them to take part.
The annual ‘king’ is responsible for organizing the village’s Epiphany celebrations, with this year’s King a man called Alexandre Taveira.
The legal age to purchase tobacco in Portugal is 18, but nothing prohibits parents from giving children cigarettes.
Portuguese authorities do not intervene to stop the practice.
Guilhermina Mateus, a 35-year-old coffee shop owner, cites custom as the reason why she gives her daughter cigarettes.
Ms Mateus said: ‘I don’t see any harm in that because they don’t really smoke, they inhale and immediately exhale.’
Locals, both adults and children, can be seen smoking and dancing during celebrations in the village.
Epiphany’ according to Orthodox tradition, marks the day that Jesus Christ was baptised by John the Baptist.
As part of the tradition, a priest will toss a cross into the water for the local men to retrieve.
The man who successfully finds the cross is blessed by the priest and said to have good luck for the upcoming year.
Christians all over the world marked the day in a number of different ways.
Pope Francis marked the holy event with a Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on January 6.
There were events held to mark the day all over the globe, with traditional celebrations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.