Christmas in Portugal
Christmas in Portugal is all about celebrating the birth of Infant Jesus, family, traditions and, as in all our celebrations, wonderful food.
Christmas in Portugal is rich in tradition. Families gather to celebrate the birth of Christ around the table, where there is always room for one more. Codfish reigns on Christmas Eve – traditionally boiled with potatoes and cabbages – accompanied by dried fruit and delicacies such as Bolo Rei, sonhos, filhós, arroz-doce and many other regional desserts, prepared according to ancient recipes that are passed on from generation to generation.
In some regions, namely up north, octopus is also an option for the main course and caldo-verde soup is the favorite appetizer. After supper, many families attend Midnight Mass and only after the Mass the presents are open. Even though Santa is getting more and more importance, in many Portuguese homes the presents are still brought by Infant Jesus. On Christmas Day, the Portuguese gather once more around the table – we love to eat! – to have roast lamb or stuffed turkey for lunch and we take the leftovers of the boiled codfish to prepare a magnificent recipe named roupa-velha.
Christmas decorations give a special colorful and charm to our streets and at our homes the Christmas tree and the Christmas crib are a must that enchant our children. Concerts are held in many churches
Christmas in Portugal is also about sharing, following the spirit of Christ, therefore many of our children gives their old toys to other children who are less fortunate; many schools and companies collect food, clothes and toys for the needy.
However, Christmas in Portugal is also about ancient popular and regional traditions, such as Boys Festival (Festa dos Rapazes), Christmas cribs or As Janeiras that reflect the uniqueness of the Portuguese culture as well as our faith and the spirit of communion that we also associate to this time of the year.
Oh, and by the way: Feliz Natal (Merry Christmas)!
Main image credits
Photo by Mr Conguito