in many other European countries, a Portugal Christmas is a time
of gathering with parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles,
cousins (and any other relatives in town!) for a warm family celebration.
In Portugal, the main holiday
celebration takes place on Christmas Eve. Friends and family gather around
the Christmas tree and the Nativity scene or Presepio
.... followed by "Missa do Galo"
or midnight mass services.
Eve celebrations, salt cod or bacalhau is the traditional dish, usually served
with boiled potatoes and cabbage. Next comes the much-awaited
Christmas desserts, which vary from region to region and may include
fried felhozes or fritters, rabanadas (often called Portuguese
"French toast") and, of course, the traditional Bolo
Rei or King
Cake, which can be both a Christmas and New Year's Eve tradition.
When the Bolo
Rei is served, family members wait to see who gets the surprises
baked within , 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!
Eve is also usually the time in Portugal when Father Christmas
arrives to fill the shoes of good little children with toys and
treats. On Christmas
Day, meat is often on the holiday menu, (customarily a big stuffed
turkey) which is of course followed by more holiday sweets.
end on January 6, on the Feast of the Epiphany or "Dia de Reis" (King's Day), but
not before a festive New Year's Eve celebration featuring spectacular
fireworks everywhere. Of course it wouldn't be New Year's in Portugal without the traditional eating of 12
raisins, representing one wish for each month of the coming year.
More information about Christmas in Portugal around the Web:
Christmas Lights in Lisbon - Check out this insider guide to holiday lights ablaze in the capital city, with additional info on what else to do in Lisbon in December.