Easter traditions in Portugal

By Cristina da Costa Brookes, in Community, Lifestyle · 01-04-2021 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

In Portugal, Easter is one of the most beloved dates for the population and this is due to the fact that it is one of the most religious countries in Europe.

There are countless traditions that we can still find from north to south of the country. Some of the traditional sweets include the famous Folar, which is a bread that symbolises abundance after the fasting period of Lent, but it is also a way of sharing and keeping alive the Portuguese tradition. Folares are varied and exist in salty and sweet variations, other sweets include Pão-de-ló, almonds and chocolate eggs.

The Portuguese celebrate the week leading up to Easter Sunday which this year falls on the 4 April, additionally, there is a public holiday on Good Friday, 2 April. One specific Easter tradition is cleaning one’s home, a common habit across the country. In this period cleaning your house, especially in the Alentejo and the Algarve to receive the Easter visit, the “Compasso”, which symbolises the entry of Jesus Christ into the home, with the blessing of the priest who blesses the house and all who live there. To receive the “Compasso” (visit Pascal) one has to have at the table almonds and sweets, as well as liqueurs and Port wine.

Easter Sunday is a day of celebration and lunch usually includes meat, especially goat or lamb and traditional desserts. It is also tradition in Portugal, to offer a gift to your godchildren on Easter, of almonds, chocolate eggs or money. Children also usually offer their godparents an olive or violet branch on Palm Sunday. In many villages, Holy Week is also celebrated through processions and night vigils.

In the Alentejo, in Castelo de Vide, in addition to the processions, the population accompanies the blessing of lambs and the faithful go out to the streets with rattles and bells. In many localities they also celebrate Holy Week with night processions lit by candles, or with theatrical representations of the condemnation of Christ.

In São Brás de Alportel, in the Algarve, a colourful procession of flowers usually takes place (Procession of the Flowered Torches on Easter Sunday). The torches are composed of field flowers. Braga also comes to life with one of the biggest celebrations in the city and usually receives thousands of visitors every year. The city is filled with motifs and celebrates Easter through different initiatives. One that stands out is the procession of the little donkey, where the image of Our Lady is carried by a little donkey. In addition to religious celebrations, the city offers numerous events, such as concerts and exhibitions.

The village of Óbidos is truly magical and takes us back to the beginnings of Portuguese history. At Easter time, this town is once again the stage for another Portuguese historical and religious event. Annually it grabs the interest of numerous visitors, who intend to attend one of the best programmes for Holy Week, through numerous activities, including religious processions, including the well-known procession of the Burial of the Lord, where the village is traversed only in the light of the torches that burn in the hands of the youngest, placed in strategic points of the route. Both in Lisbon and Porto, Easter workshops end up attracting many families, including more modern Easter egg hunts where Portuguese people increasingly choose to celebrate this day in a more fun way. In the north of the country, in Porto, the Library of Fânzeres and the Minas Gerais Museum of São Pedro da Cova, put on many Easter workshops for families.



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