Portugal Realty


Portuguese Christmas Traditions

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'Tis the season to be Jolly!

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

The 24th of December 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 desserts in huge quantities such as: filhós, sonhos, rabanadas and bolo-rei. At dinner time, called Consoada, Portuguese families usually eat codfish, a typical dish eaten all year round. During Consoada all family members gather together, talking, eating, drinking Port and getting festive until mid-night. At mid-night 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 (Christmas Crib) and can be found in all churches during the month of December.

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. Nowdays, 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, 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 nights 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 events is in the Silver Coast Portugal, the Obidos Christmas Village is where part of the Medieval castle is transformed into a winter wonderland. Friends and family meet up to partake in the various christmas activities that are setup such as; horse and carriage rides, ice skating, building snow men, eating cake and of course, visiting Santa.

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


- The Silver Coast Portugal - Top 10 Events
- The Silver Coast Portugal - Top 8 Activities for Children


Portugal Realty™ - Property for sale in Portugal