The holiday season is fast approaching, and if you’ve ever dreamed of celebrating like a true Portuguese local, you’re in for a treat! Join us as we explore the cozy, quirky, and amazing traditions that make Portugal’s holidays truly special. Get ready to add some Portuguese flair to your festivities! 🎉🌟
Christmas Tree’s and nativity scenes🎄
Except for the Christmas Tree Portuguese adoration for nativity scenes is evident throughout the country during Christmas, often gracing roadsides and roundabouts. The popularity of live nativity scenes, with individuals donning Christmas story characters’ attire, is a widespread and charming feature in many Portuguese towns.
Portuguese streets come alive with the spirit of Christmas, adorned with both Christmas trees and nativity scenes. Live nativity scenes, featuring locals dressed as Christmas characters, add a charming touch to many towns across the country.
Missas do Parto – Parturition Masses (Madeira)⛪
From December 16th to the 24th, Madeira observes a cherished Christmas tradition—the Parturition Masses. Dating back at least to the 18th century, these nine early morning masses precede Christmas Day, honoring the Expectation of The Blessed Virgin Mary on December 17th. The culminating Midnight Mass celebrates the birth of Jesus. Despite the early hours, churches are bustling, and post-mass festivities include traditional treats like Poncha and Broas de Mel.
Bacalhau com todos🐟
How about this: Bacalhau com todos, a joyous Portuguese delicacy, takes center stage on every Christmas Eve dinner table. Translating to “cod with everything,” this dish features boiled cod accompanied by slices of hard-boiled eggs and a medley of veggies like carrots, cabbage, and potatoes.
“Bananeiro” de Braga (Braga’s Banana Tree)
Every December 24th, Braga transforms into a banana haven! The quirky tradition, dubbed “Bananeiro,” kicked off when the owner of Casa das Bananas decided to spice things up. He set up a muscatel stall outside, and the rest is fruity history. One fateful day, a customer asked for a snack, and the owner handed over a banana. The tale stuck, and the owner’s son turned it into a yearly bash. Now, on the magical night, folks from all corners of Braga unite at Casa das Bananas on Rua do Souto to munch on bananas, sip Muscatel, and spread the Christmas cheer. Who knew bananas could be so festive? 🍌🎄
12 o’Clock: New Year’s Eve✨
As the clock strikes midnight, a charming Portuguese New Year’s Eve tradition kicks off with the ritual of indulging in 12 raisins—one for each upcoming month. Savored at the pace of each clock chime, these tiny treats are believed to usher in good fortune for the year ahead. While relishing these symbolic raisins, it’s customary to weave in wishes, be it for robust health or flourishing prosperity. This quaint practice, centered around the humble dried grape, takes center stage as Portugal bids adieu to the old and welcomes the new.
Dress up as Santa Claus🎅🏼
In some households, the magic of Christmas unfolds with a family member transforming into the beloved Santa Claus, while others find solace and joy in a midnight Mass expedition, saving the present unwrapping for their return. Given the festivities of the preceding night, the consensus is to savor a leisurely start to Christmas Day, especially when children are in the mix—cue the designated Santa ensemble for an extra sprinkle of enchantment.
Here’s a fresh take: Bolo-rei, a festive confection ingrained in Portuguese Christmas and Epiphany customs, earns its name from the Three Wise Men, signifying the King’s Cake. This brioche-like delight, modest in sweetness, adopts a regal round form with a prominent central hole, reminiscent of a crown. Savor this Christmas treat from December 25th, celebrating the Nativity, through January 6th, marking the Epiphany.
End of Christmas: Dia dos Reis
The Christmas season lasts until January 6, marked by “Dia dos Reis” or “Day of the Kings.” On this day, the Portuguese tradition involves dismantling Christmas decorations. This Catholic celebration honors the three wise men—Reis Magos—who visited baby Jesus on January 5, offering gifts. Portuguese families gather to celebrate, enjoying traditional dishes reminiscent of the December 24th and 25th festivities.
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From our Speakit family to yours, have a sleigh-full of happy moments and a New Year brimming with possibilities! Just speak it and cheers to making memories that sparkle like holiday lights! 🎅🎁🌟