Boas festas from Portugal!

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"Boas festas!" or "Feliz Natal!" is the Portuguese for "Merry Christmas!" In the weeks before the festive season, you can see dazzling Christmas lights spelling out this phrase throughout Portugal.

Christmas is an enchanting time of the year, and every country has its own unique Christmas traditions. Portugal is no exception!

Here, Christmas festivities start on the evening of the 24th of December. All generations of the family gather for a family dinner known as the Night of the Consoada. The word Consoada refers to a small meal taken at the end of a day´s fasting and derives from the Latin word consolare, meaning to comfort. Dinner is usually bacalhau - the salted cod that can be served hundreds of different ways - with cabbage and boiled potatoes followed by the traditional Christmas cake - bolo rei - King cake.

The Christmas meal typically finishes very late and is followed by midnight mass, then the gifts are exchanged at midnight, much to the delight of the children. Father Christmas - Pai Natal - is believed to bring presents to children on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day. The presents are left under the Christmas tree or in shoes by the fireplace. However, some say that the presents are brought by the baby Jesus rather than Father Christmas.

Before leaving for the service, parents secretly put the baby Jesus in the nativity scene or Presépio. They put the gifts under the Christmas tree so that Jesus will 'miraculously' be in his manger when the family returns home! Children run to check the nativity scene as soon as they enter the house as no baby Jesus means no presents!

Christmas Day is a much more low-key affair, like the British Boxing Day spent with friends and family over a long lunch.

But of course, one of the best things about Christmas in Portugal is the mild temperatures and miles of deserted, sandy beaches glistening in the sun calling for you to enjoy a leisurely stroll!

Wishing you a happy and peaceful holiday season, whatever your traditions are. For information on buying property in Portugal please call one of our knowledgeable and experienced Property Advisors on +351 308 800 878 or 0800 014 8201 free from the UK or email us:

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Published in: Guide to Portugal / Miscellaneous / Portuguese Life