Portuguese Christmas Traditions

Portuguese Christmas Traditions

 Culture & Traditions 

'Tis the season to be jolly... Ever wonder what it's like to celebrate Christmas in Portugal? Let us tell you all about it, let's get festive!

'Tis the season to be jolly!

Ever wonder what it's like to celebrate Christmas in Portugal? Let us tell you all about it, let's get festive!

The 24th of December in Portugal is all about getting the family together. Family members travel far and wide, all in the Christmas spirit to be together on this special occasion. It is such an important time of the year and in typical Portuguese fashion, food is the focus early afternoon, cooking has already begun. With a popular choice being delicious traditional Portuguese desserts in huge quantities such as filhós, sonhos, rabanadas and bolo-rei.

During Chirtsmas Eve dinner, called Consoada, Portuguese families usually eat codfish, a typical dish eaten all year round. Family members gather together, talking, eating, drinking Port, and getting festive until midnight.

At midnight, children will go to sleep and wait patiently for their presents, the adults go to the church for the Missa do Galo (Rooster Mass). During this mass, an image of baby Jesus is brought out, and as part of an old custom everyone lines up to kiss the image of baby Jesus which is then put into the Nativity Scene. The Nativity Scene is called Presépio and can be found in all churches during the month of December.


Presepio Portugal The Simple Life


The more traditional Portuguese families wait until the morning of the 25th of December to see their children running to the Christmas tree to open all the presents Father Christmas left them during the night. Nowadays, however, children don’t need to wait until the next morning to open their presents, instead, they will do it sometime after dinner. Some family members might even volunteer to dress up as Santa Claus and hand the presents out to all the eager children.

Even though Portugal is a small country, Portuguese Christmas traditions differ from region to region. In some rural areas of the country, people gather to make huge controlled bonfires, called Madeiro, next to the church with some tree roots. This then becomes the place where neighbours, families, and friends meet for this special celebration. The fire starts just before or during the Missa do Galo "to warm baby Jesus's feet". Sometimes the Madeiro is so big that it will continue burning until the next day as a reminder of the night's festivities.

Although it is common to have a Christmas Tree in all houses in Portugal, the most traditional Christmas decoration is the Presépio, and most families will have a small one with just the holy family and animals setup in their homes. Driving through most villages in Portugal at Christmas time you will also find larger more detailed Presépio's on one of the main squares or in front of a church, proudly made by locals for people to visit, some even have live animals!

During this time of year, there are many events for families to go out together and celebrate, getting everyone in the Christmas spirit. One of the most famous Christmas events in Portugal is in the Silver Coast of Portugal: the Obidos Villa Natal (Obidos Chrisyams Village), where part of the Medieval castle is transformed into a winter wonderland. Friends and family meet up to partake in various Christmas activities such as: horse and carriage rides, ice skating, building snowmen, eating cake, and of course, visiting Santa.

If you are searching for a property for sale in Portugal and planning to live in Portugal, or looking for a house for sale to be your second home for holidays in Portugal, make sure you visit Portugal during this magical time of year and experience these wonderful Christmas traditions with us.


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