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Portuguese Town Encourages Children as Young as Five to Smoke on Epiphany

On January 6 the Portuguese village of Vale de Salgueiro celebrated the traditional Epiphany festival, also known as the Feast of The Three Kings. While the holiday involves such benign traditions as eating cake and singing carols, there is one tradition that causes an outcry every year – parents allow and even encourage their children to smoke cigarettes.

Locals defend the practice, claiming that is has been passed down for centuries as part of the Epiphany and winter solstice celebrations, but no one is sure exactly what it is meant to symbolize. In Portugal, the legal age to purchase tobacco is 18, but there is nothing to stop parents from giving their children cigarettes, and the authorities have yet to intervene and put an end to the tradition.

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