Children As Young As Five Are Encouraged To SMOKE In Centuries Old Portuguese Tradition As Epiphany Celebrations Kick Off Around The World

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Epiphany celebrations were in full swing around the world as people came out in their droves to mark the Christian festival.

There were events held to mark the day all over the globe, with traditional celebrations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The most striking tradition was in the village of Vale de Salgueiro in Portugal, which allows children as young as five to smoke cigarettes during Epiphany celebrations.

Epiphany celebrations were in full swing all over the world on January 6, with the village of Vale de Salgueiro in Portugal drawing international attention for its tradition

Epiphany celebrations were in full swing all over the world on January 6, with the village of Vale de Salgueiro in Portugal drawing international attention for its tradition

Outsiders criticised the village after photos emerged of dozens of young children, some as young as eight, smoking and sharing cigarettes with their friends and family

Outsiders criticised the village after photos emerged of dozens of young children, some as young as eight, smoking and sharing cigarettes with their friends and family

But locals hit back at the outcry, saying that the Kings' Feast celebration is a practice that is centuries old and is a tradition in the village

But locals hit back at the outcry, saying that the Kings' Feast celebration is a practice that is centuries old and is a tradition in the village

Children, like those pictured, smoke cigarettes in the village in northern Portugal, during the traditional celebration.

The village's Epiphany event, called Kings' Feast, feature the tradition which causes an outcry and draws strong criticism from outsiders. 

However, locals say that practice is a centuries-old tradition, although nobody is sure what it symbolises or why parents buy the 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.

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  • Children smoke while walking with a music band in the village of Vale de Salgueiro, northern Portugal, during the local Kings' Feast

    Children smoke while walking with a music band in the village of Vale de Salgueiro, northern Portugal, during the local Kings' Feast

    Nobody from the village is sure what the event symbolises or why parents buy the packs of cigarettes for their children and encourage them to take part

    Nobody from the village is sure what the event symbolises or why parents buy the packs of cigarettes for their children and encourage them to take part

    Ines, eight years old, reacts as her father Frederico hands her her first cigarette with the young girl seeming very excited to try one 

    Ines, eight years old, reacts as her father Frederico hands her her first cigarette with the young girl seeming very excited to try one 

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    The legal age to purchase tobacco in Portugal is 18, but nothing prohibits parents from giving children cigarettes, and 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.   

    Parents of the children don't see any harm in the children smoking, with one saying that they don't really smoke as they immediately exhale

    Parents of the children don't see any harm in the children smoking, with one saying that they don't really smoke as they immediately exhale

    Locals, both adults and children, can be seen smoking and dancing during celebrations in the village as they mark the annual Kings' Feast

    Locals, both adults and children, can be seen smoking and dancing during celebrations in the village as they mark the annual Kings' Feast

    The legal age to purchase tobacco in Portugal is 18, but nothing prohibits parents from giving children cigarettes and police tend not to intervene

    The legal age to purchase tobacco in Portugal is 18, but nothing prohibits parents from giving children cigarettes and police tend not to intervene

    The annual

    The annual 'king' is responsible for organizing the village's Epiphany celebrations, with this year's King a man called Alexandre Taveira

    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. 

    Pope Francis celebrates the Holy Mass for the Epiphany in St. Peter's Basilica on January 6 Christians all over the world marked the day in a number of different ways

    Pope Francis celebrates the Holy Mass for the Epiphany in St. Peter's Basilica on January 6, as Christians all over the world marked the day in a number of different ways

    The Pope led the celebrations and advised against making the pursuit of money, a career or success the basis for one's whole life

    The Pope led the celebrations and advised against making the pursuit of money, a career or success the basis for one's whole life

    He urged people around the world to do more to help the poor and others in need of assistance, telling them to give freely without expecting anything in return

    He urged people around the world to do more to help the poor and others in need of assistance, telling them to give freely without expecting anything in return

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  • Pope Francis advised against making the pursuit of money, a career or success the basis for one's whole life, urging followers to resist any 'inclinations toward arrogance, the thirst for power and for riches.'

    The Pope also said people 'often make do' with having 'health, a little money and a bit of entertainment.' 

    But he urged people around the world to do more to help the poor and others in need of assistance, telling them to give freely without expecting anything in return.

    In Russia, Orthodox Christian believers crowded into churches to stand shoulder-by-shoulder for Christmas Eve midnight Masses 

    In Russia, Orthodox Christian believers crowded into churches to stand shoulder-by-shoulder for Christmas Eve midnight Masses 

    Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a Mass at the Church of Sts. Simeon and Anna in St. Petersburg, his hometown

    Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a Mass at the Church of Sts. Simeon and Anna in St. Petersburg, his hometown

    State television channels showed a live broadcast of the Mass from Moscow’s enormous and elaborate Christ the Savior Cathedral

    State television channels showed a live broadcast of the Mass from Moscow's enormous and elaborate Christ the Savior Cathedral

    Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia conducts a Christmas liturgy at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

    Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia conducts a Christmas liturgy at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

    In Russia, Orthodox Christian believers crowded into churches to stand shoulder-by-shoulder for Christmas Eve midnight Masses.

    The Russian Orthodox, like several other Orthodox denominations, observes Christmas on January 7.

    President Vladimir Putin attended a Mass at the Church of Sts. Simeon and Anna in St. Petersburg, his hometown.

    State television channels showed a live broadcast of the Mass from Moscow's enormous and elaborate Christ the Savior Cathedral. 

    The church was demolished during Josef Stalin's dictatorship, but reconstructed after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

    Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attended the Mass at Christ the Savior. 

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  • The Russian Orthodox, like several other Orthodox denominations, observes Christmas on January 7 with people all over the country coming together to celebrate

    The Russian Orthodox, like several other Orthodox denominations, observes Christmas on January 7 with people all over the country coming together to celebrate

    The ongoing rift between the Ukrainian and Russian churches was highlighted in their leaders' messages ahead of the Orthodox holiday

    The ongoing rift between the Ukrainian and Russian churches was highlighted in their leaders' messages ahead of the Orthodox holiday

    The church was demolished during Josef Stalin’s dictatorship, but reconstructed after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attended the Mass at Christ the Savior

    The church was demolished during Josef Stalin's dictatorship, but reconstructed after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attended the Mass at Christ the Savior

    A Christmas liturgy at the Kazan Cathedral, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas according to the Julian calendar

    A Christmas liturgy at the Kazan Cathedral, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas according to the Julian calendar

    The ongoing rift between the Ukrainian and Russian churches was highlighted in their leaders' messages ahead of the Orthodox holiday.

    Patriarch Filaret, the head of the Kiev-based Ukrainian Orthodox Church, wished his country a 'victory over the aggressor'.

    He said: 'We wish that our Lord help us banish all evil and help us bring victory over the aggressor because the truth is with us.' 

    In his Christmas message published on the Moscow patriarchy's website, Russia's Patriarch Kirill said the church believed the 'nations of historic Rus will keep and renew their spiritual unity'.  

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  • Greek priests parade together at the Greek Orthodox Epiphany Day festival at Yarra Bay on January 7, 2018 in Sydney, Australia

    Greek priests parade together at the Greek Orthodox Epiphany Day festival at Yarra Bay on January 7, 2018 in Sydney, Australia

    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

    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

    Orthodox Greek men celebrate with the cross that is thrown into the water by a priest to mark the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist

    Orthodox Greek men celebrate with the cross that is thrown into the water by a priest to mark the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist

    As well as celebrating the baptism of Jesus Christ, Epiphany is also known as Three Kings' Day

    Priests from the Greek Orthodox church record the celebrations at Yarra Bay as they wait for the men who dived into the water to retrieve the cross

    In Australia, Greek priests came together in a parade to celebrate the Greek Orthodox Epiphany Day festival at Yarra Bay in Sydney.

    As part of their celebrations, male participants wait to receive a gift and kiss the hand of the Bishop.

    Then, as part of their 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  

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  • Greek priests parade together at the Greek Orthodox Epiphany Day festival at Yarra Bay on January 7, 2018 in Sydney, Australia

    Greek priests parade together at the Greek Orthodox Epiphany Day festival at Yarra Bay on January 7, 2018 in Sydney, Australia

    Male swimmers can be seen in the race to find the sunken cross at the Greek Orthodox Epiphany Day festival at Yarra Bay

    Male swimmers can be seen in the race to find the sunken cross at the Greek Orthodox Epiphany Day festival at Yarra Bay

    Crowds gather in the water and extreme summer heat at the Greek Orthodox Epiphany Day with families watching on as men dive for the cross

    Crowds gather in the water and extreme summer heat at the Greek Orthodox Epiphany Day with families watching on as men dive for the cross

    Thousands of people all over Australia marked the holy day which is also known as the Three Kings' Day and celebrates the star that led the Three Kings to Baby Jesus

    Thousands of people all over Australia marked the holy day which is also known as the Three Kings' Day and celebrates the star that led the Three Kings to Baby Jesus

    Thousands of people all over Australia marked the holy day.

    As well as celebrating the baptism of Jesus Christ, Epiphany is known as Three Kings' Day.

    It is a special date in the Christmas story as it celebrates the star that led the Three kings or the Wise Men - to visit the baby Jesus after he had been born.  

    More than 50 men wearing only t-shirts dove into the chilly waters in Tarpon Springs, Florida to try and retrieve a cross to mark Epiphany

    More than 50 men wearing only t-shirts dove into the chilly waters in Tarpon Springs, Florida to try and retrieve a cross to mark Epiphany

    Flames fly after Very Reverend Father George Veselinovic pours red wine on the Yule log on Christmas Eve, according to the Julian calendar

    Flames fly after Very Reverend Father George Veselinovic pours red wine on the Yule log on Christmas Eve, according to the Julian calendar

    There were also a series of celebrations across the United States to mark this year's Epiphany.

    Wearing only t-shirts and shorts more than 50 men dove into the chilly waters to retrieve a cross Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

    Unusually cold temperatures in Florida after a winter storm didn't dissuade them from making their annual plunge as part of the largest epiphany celebration in the United States.

    There were also celebrations in Pennsylvania, as Orthodox Church members celebrated Christmas.

    Flames flew after Very Reverend Father George Veselinovic poured red wine on the Yule log at St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church in Monroeville, Pennsylvania.

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  • In Palestine, President Mahmoud Abbas attended an Orthodox midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem

    In Palestine, President Mahmoud Abbas attended an Orthodox midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem

    In Palestine, President Mahmoud Abbas attended an Orthodox midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

    He shook hands with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III as they celebrated the holy night. 

    However, Palestinians protesting church land sales to Israelis scuffled with Palestinian police in Bethlehem just before the Greek Orthodox ceremony. 

    Celebrations were held far and wide to mark the occasion.

    There was also a Christmas Eve Mass at St. Porphyrios Church in Gaza City attended by a number of worshippers. Greek Orthodox Archbishop Alexios held the Orthodox Christmas mass at the Saint Porfirios church.

    Palestinians protesting church land sales to Israelis scuffled with Palestinian police in Bethlehem just before the Greek Orthodox ceremony

    Palestinians protesting church land sales to Israelis scuffled with Palestinian police in Bethlehem just before the Greek Orthodox ceremony

    A Palestinian Greek orthodox Christian woman lights a candle as she attends the Christmas Eve Mass at St. Porphyrios Church in Gaza City

    A Palestinian Greek orthodox Christian woman lights a candle as she attends the Christmas Eve Mass at St. Porphyrios Church in Gaza City

    Palestinian Christians light candles following an Orthodox Christmas mass at the Saint Porfirios church in Gaza City

    Palestinian Christians light candles following an Orthodox Christmas mass at the Saint Porfirios church in Gaza City

    A Palestinian Greek orthodox Christian man prays as he attends the Christmas Eve Mass at St. Porphyrios Church in Gaza City

    A Palestinian Greek orthodox Christian man prays as he attends the Christmas Eve Mass at St. Porphyrios Church in Gaza City

    A Palestinian boy dressed as Santa Claus looks up at a man during an Orthodox Christmas mass at the Saint Porfirios church

    A Palestinian boy dressed as Santa Claus looks up at a man during an Orthodox Christmas mass at the Saint Porfirios church

    A number of Palestinian boys held candles and dressed in ceremonial robes to mark the occasion as they listened to speeches from religious leaders

    A number of Palestinian boys held candles and dressed in ceremonial robes to mark the occasion as they listened to speeches from religious leaders

    Greek Orthodox Archbishop Alexios holds an Orthodox Christmas mass at the Saint Porfirios church

    Greek Orthodox Archbishop Alexios holds an Orthodox Christmas mass at the Saint Porfirios church

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  • In Ethiopia, droves of Orthodox worshipers came out to celebrate Christmas, as they also follow the Julian calendar.

    Orthodox pilgrims attended a prayer session at the monolithic Orthodox church ahead of Ethiopian Christmas in Lalibela, Ethiopia. 

    There were widespread celebrations throughout the country with Christmas trees, lights and crowds flocking to mark the holy event.

    Orthodox pilgrims attended a prayer session at the monolithic Orthodox church ahead of Ethiopian Christmas in Lalibela, Ethiopia

    Orthodox pilgrims attended a prayer session at the monolithic Orthodox church ahead of Ethiopian Christmas in Lalibela, Ethiopia

    Some young women take a selfie in front of a Christmas tree as they celebrate the Orthodox Christmas in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    Some young women take a selfie in front of a Christmas tree as they celebrate the Orthodox Christmas in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    People take photos in front of a giant Christmas tree as they celebrate the Orthodox Christmas in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    People take photos in front of a giant Christmas tree as they celebrate the Orthodox Christmas in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    Addis Ababa seemed to be the hub of the celebrations with Orthodox Christians enjoying themselves in the streets.

    There was also a service at the Bole Medehanialem Orthodox Church that attracted hundreds of worshipers. 

    At the service, people could be seen dancing, smiling and playing instruments as they celebrated.  

    Ethiopian Orthodox Christians attend the Orthodox Christmas service at Bole Medehanialem Orthodox church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    Ethiopian Orthodox Christians attend the Orthodox Christmas service at Bole Medehanialem Orthodox church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    Ethiopian Orthodox Christians can be seen seen dancing and smiling as they attend the Orthodox Christmas service at Bole Medehanialem Orthodox church in Addis Ababa

    Ethiopian Orthodox Christians can be seen seen dancing and smiling as they attend the Orthodox Christmas service at Bole Medehanialem Orthodox church in Addis Ababa

    A number of traditional instruments were used in the celebrations in Addis Ababa, seemingly a hub for Orthodox Christians

    A number of traditional instruments were used in the celebrations in Addis Ababa, seemingly a hub for Orthodox Christians

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