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Five-year-olds smoke cigarettes for ‘tradition’ of Christian celebration

Five-year-olds smoke cigarettes for 'tradition' of Christian celebration
Fernando, 6, smokes a cigarette in the encampment of Vale de Salgueiro, northern Portugal (Picture: AP)

Children as immature as 5 are speedy to smoke cigarettes by their relatives for a Christian celebration.

The encampment of Vale de Salgueiro in Portugal causes cheer any year when it creates children light up for a tradition that defies reason.

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Locals contend the use is centuries-old, but nobody is certain what it symbolises or since relatives make their children take part.

It forms prejudiced of the town’s Epiphany celebrations, which signals the central finish of Christmas.

The authorised age to buy tobacco in Portugal is 18, but no laws stop relatives giving cigarettes to their children.

Five-year-olds smoke cigarettes for 'tradition' of Christian celebration
Ines, 8, is handed her first cigarette (Picture: AP)
Five-year-olds smoke cigarettes for 'tradition' of Christian celebration
No one knows since or how the tradition started (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Five-year-olds smoke cigarettes for 'tradition' of Christian celebration
A man helps a immature girl light a cigarette (Picture: AP)
Five-year-olds smoke cigarettes for 'tradition' of Christian celebration
You have to be 18 to buy tobacco in Portugal, but no law stops relatives giving children cigarettes (Picture: AP)

And Portuguese authorities will not meddle to stop the damaging tradition.

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Guilhermina Mateus, a 35-year-old coffee shop owner, pronounced she doesn’t see the mistreat in it as she gave her daughter a cigarette.

Ms Mateus said: ‘I don’t see any mistreat in that since they don’t really smoke, they breathe and immediately exhale.’

The two-day celebrations, which finished on Saturday with a Mass, embody dancing around bonfires, a piper personification music and an inaugurated ‘king’ who dishes out snacks and wine.

Five-year-olds smoke cigarettes for 'tradition' of Christian celebration
Luisa Ines, 10, gets her father to help her light a cigarette (Picture: AP)
Five-year-olds smoke cigarettes for 'tradition' of Christian celebration
Young boys pass turn some cigarettes for the Epiphany celebrations (Picture: AP)
Five-year-olds smoke cigarettes for 'tradition' of Christian celebration
The encampment causes cheer every year but Portuguese authorities haven’t stepped in (Picture: AP)

Jose Ribeirinha, who’s created books on the tradition, believes the relations privacy of the remote encampment has helped keep the tradition alive.

The encampment is 450 kilometres (280 miles) northeast of Lisbon.

He pronounced the surrounding Tras os Montes segment ‘has always been the farthest from Lisbon, the many “forgotten one”.’

Portugal, like many countries, has taken stairs to revoke smoking, including a prejudiced anathema on smoking indoors.

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