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Portuguese Christmas traditions

Christmas season is the best time to enjoy a short break in Portugal. The sunny days in December are great for long walks through the historic center and to enjoy street entertainments, musical concerts and Christmas markets scattered throughout the city.

Portugal Premium tours has a new tour that celebrates Christmas!

Christmas is celebrated differently, depending on one’s religion and beliefs.
Portugal is a country of traditions! These traditions pass from generation to generation and are a symbol of communion, love and family!

Here are 5 typical Portuguese Christmas traditions:

1 – The Crib
For Christians, Christmas means the birth of Jesus. We recreate the moment, in family, placing the crib under the Christmas tree.

The cribs are made up to 6 main figures. However, some families give a greater importance to the crib by adding streams, moss, animals, and other characters.

2 – The Consoada
Portuguese families gather on the night of December 24th for dinner, in which the traditional dish is boiled cod or octopus cooked with potatoes and Portuguese cabbage.
On December 25th, the tradition is to have stuffed turkey. For dessert, you can not miss the ‘Bolo rei’ (King Cake), and other traditional pastries such as ‘Filhós’, ‘Sonhos’ (dreams) and Rabanadas (french toasts).
The goal is to unite the family around the dinner table to fraternize and celebrate peace and love.

3 – ‘Bolo rei’ – The King Cake
The king cake is present on every table at Christmas and symbolizes the gifts offered by the Magi to the Baby Jesus. The crust symbolizes the gold, the dried and crystallized fruits the myrrh and the aroma of the cake the incense.
Each cake has a dry fava bean inside. According to tradition, the person who got the slice of cake with the fava bean has to pay the cake the following year.
Nowadays, due to the large number of people who do not consume crystallized fruit, there are other options such as the Queen cake, which has only dried fruit, King Chocolate cake and one with regional smoked ham and sausages.

4 – The Mass of the Rooster
Dinner follows the Rooster Mass celebrated at midnight to mark the birth of Jesus Christ and it still remains one of the most important traditions of this season celebrations. After Mass, the tradition is to return home, put the image of the baby Jesus in the crib and begin the exchange of Christmas gifts.

5 – The Christmas Tree
The first reference of a Christmas tree in Portugal dates back to the 18th century when the king consort D. Fernando II decided to make a Christmas tree for his children in the palace and to distribute gifts dressed as Saint Nicholas. A tradition he brought from his homeland, Germany.

On The Lisbon’s Christmas lights tour you will walk around Lisbon city center learning about the Christmas traditions in Portugal. A two and a half hour private tour to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere that is lived this time of the year in Lisbon!

From Praça do Comércio with a Christmas tree with 30 meters hight to historic squares, monuments and avenues lit with a total of 2 million and 150 thousand light bulbs you will be amazed by the beauty of the city.

Visit Portugal and enjoy Christmas this year with us!

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