Christmas in Portugal – a religious celebration

Portugal is primarily a Catholic country and hence Christmas here is a great religious festival. Like everywhere around, people also decorate their houses and decorate the Christmas trees. Whatever the people during Christmas they do it with a great amount of religious fervor. They strictly stick to the observance of the religious customs and do whatever the tradition calls far. People here in Portugal cherish the birth of tradition. It is the major festival for them. Portugal is in the southern part of Europe, more towards the west of the south. Experiencing a climate with heavy winter and snow fall, when it is time for Christmas the land of Portugal is all pearly white and glistening in the occasional rays of the sun. Portugal had previously held colonies in parts of India. The vigor with which the people of Portugal celebrate Christmas every year is known far and wide.

What the Portuguese do for Christmas

A great part of the Portuguese tradition is recreating the nativity scene. They make it a point to put the scene in various places where they reconstruct the stable in which Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus. They build the figurines of Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus. They also create the shepherds who had come to visit the blessed child and the three wise men are shown as well. They make the thatched roof of the stable and make it look as much real as possible. The children are given the responsibility to collect the raw materials which are required for making the models. The entire atmosphere of that auspicious night is generally captured in these recreations. People generally on the Eve of Christmas come and stand together near the scene and pray. Like everywhere else in Portugal too people attend the morning mass on the day of Christmas. They flock to the chapels in groups.

What do they eat for Christmas

Christmas is a time for good, no great food! People busy themselves in preparing the most delicious dishes. On the night of the Christmas even they have an elaborate supper after praying at the nativity scene and decorating the Christmas tree. The supper which is called the “Ceia de Natal” is had only after people have attended the midnight mass. The standard dish for this supper is made of Cod Fish and along with it are some boiled vegetables which mainly include potatoes and cabbages. For desert they prefer to have a number of item which are either baked or bread like. They also have this particular dish for desert which is known as the “Bolo Rei”. It is basically nothing but a fruitcake and inside it lies a present. The traditional Christmas dinner consists of a roasted turkey which is full of stuffing. For desert they prefer the traditional dishes.

Children receive gifts on Christmas or on the day of Epiphany. People light up their houses in various ways. Some also go out on the streets singing carols on the day of Christmas itself. All in all Christmas is a religious as well as fun-filled festival for Portugal.

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