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MAIN Arrow to Christmas Christmas Arrow to Christmas in Europe Europe Arrow to Christmas in Portugal Christmas in Portugal

Feliz Natal - Merry Christmas in PortugalAs 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.

For Christmas 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!

Christmas 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.

The festivities 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.

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