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Christmas specialties of Portuguese, regional cuisine

Perhaps learning Portuguese language has become so important to you that you want to expand your knowledge of this beautiful, warm country in Western Europe. If so, we have some information for you about the great Portuguese Christmas!

Portuguese Christmas without snow and snowman

We usually celebrate Christmas in Poland traditionally – with family, preparing Christmas dishes, decorating the Christmas tree, making decorations from spruce twigs. We have really cold days in December, and sometimes we can even make a snowman! Portuguese holidays are also largely based on tradition, but have a completely different atmosphere than Polish. This is mainly due to the fact that neither in the north nor the south of Portugal we will experience any frost or snow. The temperature on Christmas Eve is around 15⁰ C, and Christmas walks in Portugal take place without hats and warm jackets.

Preparation for Christmas Eve dinner in Portugal

In Portugal, just like in Poland, the most important Christmas meal is a joint Christmas Eve dinner. It starts after sunset, and in some regions of Portugal – just like in Poland – the family sits down to the table only when someone sees the first star in the sky. In Portugal, there is no custom to put hay under a tablecloth, there is also no tradition of sharing wafer or leaving an empty cover for an exhausted wanderer.

Christmas Eve cod, or bacalhau da consoada

Portugal is famous for its fish dishes, and in particular for its delicious cod dishes. Some even laugh that just as the Inuit have 365 words to describe different types of snow, so in Portuguese there are 365 terms for cod dishes. The Christmas version of the fish is soaked in water or milk for 24 hours and then boiled or baked with potatoes. The dish is served with potatoes and Galician cabbage (it is difficult to get it in Poland, but instead you can serve e.g. broccoli).

And the next day, nothing is wasted, in other words roupa velha

For the Christmas dinner on December 25th a dish is made … from cod, what else! It doesn’t have an elegant name, because roupa velha means old clothes. This name stimulates the imagination and fully explains the idea of ​​the dish, which consists mainly of the remains of Christmas Eve mixed with potatoes, cabbage, garlic and olive oil. Everything is baked and served to guests. This is part of the Portuguese holiday tradition and a great way not to waste food.

Bolo rei and other sweets on Christmas Eve table

Portuguese cuisine abounds in delicious, sweet specialties. On the holiday table you will find, among others, thick and sweet rice pudding prepared on milk, sprinkled with a thick layer of cinnamon – arroz doce. Rabanadas are also very popular, i.e. sweet croutons prepared from white bread, fried in butter with a lot of sugar and cinnamon. Another Christmas very sweet dessert can be filhoses, i.e. donuts with a delicate, aromatic orange flavor. All these sweets, however, are dominated by bolo rei, i.e. a round yeast cake, generously filled with candied fruit and nuts.

Portuguese language every day and on holidays!

Of course, these are not all the dishes that the Portuguese Christmas table has to offer. If you want to learn more about Portuguese holiday traditions or you are interested in Portuguese cuisine – suggest this tasty topic in Portuguese classes with our teacher! We assure you that he has first-hand knowledge and has prepared and ate many Christmas Eve dishes!

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