Christmas in Portugal

Portugal officially the Portuguese Republic is a country located in Southwestern Europe, on the Iberian Peninsula. It is the westernmost country of mainland Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and by Spain to the north and east. Apart from continental Portugal, the Portuguese Republic holds sovereignty over the Atlantic archipelagos of Azores and Madeira, which are autonomous regions of Portugal.

The Capital and largest city of this country is Lisbon.

Christmas in Portugal

Christmas Celebrations in Portugal :

As in many other European countries, a Portugal Christmas is a time of gathering with parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives for a warm family celebration. In Portugal, the main holiday celebration takes place on Christmas Eve. In Portugal the tradition of gift-giving was defined mostly by the strong Christian religious beliefs of the people. Children await the coming of the Three Wise Men during Christmas time. On the eve of January 5th children place their shoes along windowsills and doorways and fill them with carrots and straw. They do this hoping that this will lure the wise men’s horses to their houses during the night and that they will find their shoes packed with gifts and treats in the morning. The treats left is more likely to be candied fruits and sweet breads.

Christmas in Portugal

The consoada is the reunion of the family.For consoada special dinner is prepared which includes boiled codfish or salt cod or bacalhau served with boiled potatoes and cabbage and Portuguese sprouts in pure olive oil with lots of desserts on the table like rice pudding with cinamon, fried felhozes or fritters, “rabandas”-seems like french toast, “filhoses”-fried desserts, “broas de mel” (pastries made with honey) “Sonhos” -pumpkin fritters, “Bolo Rei” (King’s cake) “which is a wreath-like very rich fruit cake laced with crystallized fruits and pine nuts.” Usually a coin or toy ring – and another “unlucky” surprise, a raw bean. Whoever gets the bean must buy or make the Bolo Rei the following year. The Portuguese “Christmas log,” or cepo de Natal, is a piece of oak that burns on the hearth all through the day while people enjoy a lingering consoda.

The most part of family set up a Nativity scene called Presépio, with Mary, Joseph, the cow and the donkey, the three wise men, and lots of other figures The figure of the Christ Child is added to the scene. But everybody have a Christmas tree too; the typical colours are the gold, red and green. After that family attends Midnight Mass or after midnight. At midnight these families who attend to the church for a special Midnight Mass, called “Missa do galo”-“Rooster’s Mass”.

The children receive the presents at midnight of 24/25 December or early in 25 th December morning, but never on 5th January. They put the shoes near the fireplace as a receptacle for the presents and not at the window. We recognize the red suite; the children believe in Santa Claus (called “Pai Natal” – wich means: Father Christmas) and the parents tell them that is the baby Jesus who helps Santa with the presents.

In Portugal, grand Christmas celebrations take place in Lisbon. Apart from that notable Christmas celebrations take place in other big cities in Portugal like – Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia, Amadora, Braga, Agualva-Cacém, Funchal, Coimbra, Almada, Setúbal, Barreiro, Queluz, etc.

How do you say Merry Christmas in Portuguese?  – “Feliz Natal or Boas Festas!”

Wishing all readers Merry Christmas 2019 & Happy New Year 2020 !!!