Christmas is a magical time of year and each country has its own Christmas traditions – Portugal is no exception!
Here, Christmas celebrations 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 meal tends to finish very late and is followed by midnight mass. The Christmas gifts are given to each other after the church service or 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 people 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) and put the gifts under the Christmas tree, so that Jesus will 'miraculously' be in his manger by the time 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, similar to 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 miles of deserted, golden sandy beaches glistening in the sun calling for you to enjoy a leisurely stroll!
So whatever your traditions are, we hope you have a happy and peaceful time - Happy Holidays! 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Published in: At Home Magazine / Guide to Portugal / Miscellaneous / Portuguese Life