Portugal is not a place that people associate with Christmas right away. The mild temperatures make a white winter wonderland for the holidays nearly impossible and for some it is hard to imagine Christmas without snow. And though the holiday traditions vary across countries, we have a certain Americanized image in mind of traditional Christmas festivities that the media promotes.
But the idea of 10°C and sun during the wintertime is not a bad thought to think about. So if you are looking to escape the freezing cold by renting Lisbon apartments it is useful to get to know the local Christmas traditions beforehand.
In Portugal it is common to have a Christmas tree but the Christmas decorations evolve around the nativity scene. Many times, the figure of the baby Jesus won’t be added until after attending the Midnight Mass. The family gathers on the night of Dec 24th to await the arrival of Pai Natal (Father Christmas) and has dinner together. This gathering is called consoada. The dinner traditionally includes cod fish, sprouts, and potatoes. Some families leave room at the dinner table to for the souls of those who have already passed away which is supposed to promise good fortunes for the next year. The most important part of the dinner is dessert. Usually a lot of different types of desserts are being put on the table. Among the most traditional ones are rabanadas, which is very similar to French toast and Bolo Rei, literally translated King’s cake with lots of fruits and pine nuts. Another important detail of Christmas Day is the burning of a Christmas log, which is called cepo de Natal in Portuguese. The flame of the log is supposed to burn all day.
It is interesting to point out that in Portugal children are told that they receive the gifts from baby Jesus who is the helper of Santa.
If you decide to take a trip for the upcoming Christmas holidays it is a great idea to look into apartments in Lisbon. Apart from getting to know new ways to celebrate Christmas it is the low season for this destination and you get to discover the city without the hassle of big crowds and long lines.