Portuguese traditions


 

Getting acquainted to the locals’ way of life, to the Portuguese traditions and cultural rituals that enrich the daily existence is one way of discovering Portugal to the fullest. The most important moments in this country’s evolution, from the Golden Age of Explorations to the present times are strongly connected to the religious and mythical symbols. Going back in time, we remember how the kings in Portugal’s history were bringing tokens of recognition to Virgin Mary for their victories in battles. The large number of monasteries and churches scattered all around this blessed land are witness to the spiritual commitments that tie the common people to the Divinity. The most representative catholic holidays (the Easter, the Carnival day, the Christmas) are celebrated with glittering and impressive ceremonies.

Traditions in Minho

Located in the north west of Portugal, Minho region still preserves the traditional habits just like they were hundreds of years ago. If you happen to be in Minhofor Christmas or Easter holidays then you will find these holly moments to have a different meaning to the locals of this amazing region. Decorated in different religious motifs, the city streets are full of flowers and colored strips, during the Holly Week (the week before the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection). Those who are fond of embroideries or handmade art will consider Minho an exceptional place, as the region prides itself with handcrafts from Alto Minho. Another important event that is marked in an impressive way by the Portuguese is “Festas de Sao Joao” (June Festival), that give thanks to Saint Anthony, Saint John and Saint Peter. On this occasion, folk and dancing festivals are held and firework shows are displayed for the hundreds of visitors.

Christmas Traditions

No other holiday brings more joy, light and hope to mankind, than Christmas. In Portugal, the celebration of the Christmas Eve (“Consoada” in Portuguese) begins at church, attending the midnight mass and listening the twelve strikes of the bell, called “Missa do Galo” (the mass of the rooster). Then, the Portuguese Christians head for their homes and prepare for the holly dinner. Before opening presents, every person gathers around the Christmas tree and receives an orange, considered a symbol of this holiday. According to the Portuguese traditions, gifts are not brought by Santa Clause but by Infant Jesus. Another beautiful tradition preserved by the Portuguese are the Janeiras (a group of people singing Christmas carols between December 24 and January 6th, wishing everybody Feliz Nadal! (Merry Christmas!)). There is no better way of celebrating an entire year than by having a big party. Whether it is a pub, a club or someone’s place, Portuguese cannot miss this opportunity of having a good time. An interesting tradition during the New Year’s Eve is eating twelve grains of grapes in the last minutes before passing in a new year, symbol of the twelve happy months that will follow.

 

Regardless of the religion or the nationality one has, being part of this traditional celebration is an opportunity for understanding the cultural diversities between countries and experiencing the joy and enthusiasm of a people that still cherishes its past, its customs and rituals. Taking all these into consideration, you should strongly think about celebrating the most important holidays of the year in a Portuguese atmosphere.

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