Chão dos Santos sits at the bottom of the valley of the Barocca de Lameiro, and its name means ‘floor of the Saints’. People here, as elsewhere in this region, lived from agriculture – mainly from maize and potatoes, and the olives grown around the village went to be pressed at Vila Nova do Ceira.
The village was the site of a large brick kiln, whose chimney is still visible from the surrounding area. This part of the Ceira valley has clay deposits, that have been used to make bricks and roof tiles, and also used in the production of paints. As well as the modern brickworks, on the opposite side of the valley there is an old kiln that used to make pantiles, and above the kiln there are clay-pits. The brick factory was an important employer in the village, and worked for around 30 years before closing about 15 years ago.
The school was once filled with children from the neighbouring villages of Chapinheira, Campelo, Passô, Juncal, Telhada, Carapinhal, Barreiro and of course from Chão dos Santos. It closed about 15 years ago and is now a “Centro de Ferias” (Holiday center for children and teenagers). The village has a chapel dedicated to St.ª Barbara, and the festa is always held in the last week of August.
As in the other villages of this area, the inhabitants had traditional games that they played at different seasons of the year. At harvest-time, they played the game called ‘Chí’ while peeling the maize, where anybody who finds a dark cob (‘queen cob’) needs to embrace all the others in the group. At Carnival time, in February, a hidden ‘storyteller’ would call out all the secrets and doings of his fellow villagers – this was called “cantar as pulhas”. Another ancient custom, that used to be performed around midsummer for the festival of São João, involved a cat in a pot that was hoisted on the top of a pole in the middle of the square. A bonfire was lit underneath the pole, and the pot would fall and break- hopefully the cat would then make its escape. (We think this custom is related to the tradition of cat-burning that used to be prevalent in France several hundred years ago, and probably dates back originally to an era of animal sacrifice in fertility rites.)