Christmas in Portugal

Figure 1.--We think that this is a Portuguese postcard, but we are not sure. It dates to about 1940. Note the Christmas tree. We are not sure how common they were in Portugal.

Christmas is celebrated in much the same way in Portugal as it is in Spain. The Portugese enjoy an additional feast--consoada. They eat in the early morning hours of Christmas Day. They set extra places at the table for the souls of the dead--alminhas a penar. The tradition is to give a gift of food to the family members that have passed away hope that this will ensure good fortunes in the New Year. In some areas crumbs are left on the hearth for these souls, a custom that dreives from the ancient practice of entrusting the seeds to the dead in hopes that they will provide a bountiful harvest. They place a Christmas log on the hearth--or cepo de Natal. Traditionally it is an oak log which burns through the day as the family enjoys a leasurly consoda. Portuguese children look forward to the Three Wise Men to being their Christmas gifts. The children put the shoes near the fireplace rather like American children hang their stockings. The children receive their presents Christmas morning. Some children open their presents at midnight on Christmas morning. There are some differences in celebrations from family to family.


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Created: 1:10 AM 2/24/2008
Last updated: 1:10 AM 2/24/2008