In a few days it will be Christmas and a tradition that many families respect is that of the Christmas tree. But how was this tradition born? And how did you arrive in Portugal?
In the past, the Catholic Church did not celebrate Christmas, although it celebrated the birth of Jesus
It was in the 6th century with Pope Julius I that the date of Jesus’ birth was set for December 25, and we began to celebrate this feast.
Long before, for the Romans, it was the day of Saturnalia, festivals dedicated to the god Saturn and the winter solstice celebrated by the Celts and the Germanic peoples. That was how an old pagan festival became the biggest Christian festival.
But we are talking about the Christmas tree, which in Portugal, next to the nativity, cannot be missing.
This tradition is almost mandatory in all houses and is usually prepared between the 1st and the 8th of December.
In reality the tradition already existed at the time of the Romans who prepared firs for Saturnais.
The first Christmas trees were decorated with paper, dried fruits and cakes
According to history, the tree must be a pine tree due to its triangular shape that represents the Trinity for Christians. The first reference to the Christmas tree is in 1510, in Lithuania, attributed to Luther who would have decorated a tree with candles and a star.
And in the 16th century, this tradition already present in Germany and Germany passed to all of Europe and arrived in Portugal in the 19th century.
In 1835, as D. Maria II widowed months after his first marriage to Prince Augusto de Beauharnais, he was chosen to be the new husband of the sovereign D Fernando de Saxe Coburgo Gotha.
D Fernando II and D Maria II had a happy marriage crowned by 11 children (the queen died in giving birth to the last child). He introduced romanticism to Portugal, he is known for his taste for literature and art and for the construction of the Pena Palace in Sintra. But it was also he who introduced the Christmas tree in Portugal.
In 1844 he decided to surprise his family and prepared a Christmas tree decorated with colored balls and cakes and gifts next to the tree. From there the tradition of the tree was introduced in Portugal.
A curiosity: Each Christmas, D Fernando gave gifts to his children dressed as Saint Nicholas. Her cousin, Albert (Queen Victoria’s husband in England) did exactly the same for her family in England.