Meta: A look at Christmas traditions in Portugal.
For those wondering how Portugal celebrates the festive season, then we will certainly be going on an adventure through the westernmost country of Europe’s traditions. Now Portugal’s traditions stretch back through the ages, interestingly enough Portugal is the oldest nation within the whole of Europe.
Now in Portugal there is apparently a little contention over who exactly brings the presents on Christmas Eve, while the majority agree that it is in fact Santa Clause who brings gift for all the good little boys and girls, there are some who believe that the baby Jesus himself places the Christmas gifts under the Christmas tree. Who knows who exactly brings gifts, we’re all supposed to be sleeping anyway.
On Christmas Eve, the majority of Portugal will attend mass, but this is no ordinary Christmas mass as this is known as the Mass of the Rooster or Missa do Galo, at some point in the mass an image of the baby Jesus will be brought out and all of the Church members will gather up in lines in order to kiss the picture. Once the baby Jesus has received as many kisses as possible he is set in the Church’s nativity scene.
Before the mass, the Portuguese eat a family feast known as Consoada which is made up of codfish, green vegetables and a couple boiled potatoes; this can then be accompanied by a variety of meats or other family favorites to observe the festive season. Once the family has returned from the mass, the children within the house rush over to their nativity scene to check whether baby Jesus is in his manger.
If the baby Jesus is not in his manger then they will not receive any presents, I know this puts a lot of pressure on a baby, but I guess that’s why this is the season of miracles. For those hoping to see a more grand nativity scene than what will be found in the majority of people’s homes can visit certain shopping centers or parks as they will have light displays, moving objects and grandiose sized characters in order to put on a spectacular scene.
In Penamacor, a province within Portugal, a piece of history lives on. In years past when conscription was still in practice within Portugal, the young men who would be heading off to join the army would gather on Christmas Eve to steal a bunch of fully grown trees to burn in front of the Church. Although running off to the army is no longer compulsory, the tradition lives on and it is now seen as a way to keep the baby Jesus’ feet warm.
Although traditionally the wood have to be stolen, nowadays it is either paid for on Christmas Day, very quietly donated by young men’s parents or people who want their trees cut down will inform the participants so that way they can collect the wood in a legal manner.
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Nativity scene link:
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