Christmas is an opportunity to meet with the family and the most important moment is even the dinner of the 24th where the family meets for dinner together and after waiting for the Mass du Galo that is the Mass that celebrates the birth of Jesus.
During the dinner there are several traditions that are respected and the cod cannot be missed. Depending on the region, there are also gourmet alternatives to cod
In the Algarve, rooster with cabidela (prepared by adding rooster’s blood and vinegar)
In the Beira, the pulp is very popular
Lisbon and Tagus Valley, they also eat baked turkey
Tràs-os-montes and Alto Douro, they also prepare pulp, hake and fried fish
In the Azores, there is canja (chicken broth)
In the island of Madeira traditional meat kebabs
The tradition of Christmas night is to serve boiled cod accompanied by cabbage, potatoes and steamed vegetables
On the 25th they eat the lamb or the turkey in the oven and the “roupa velha” (the old clothes) which is the mixture of cod, potato and cabbage from the previous night, with garlic and enough oil and cooked in a pan
On the Christmas table can not miss the cakes … a lot of cakes!
Of course the Bolo Rei we talked about in the previous article, but also the fried cakes.
The fries are perhaps the most traditional of Christmas and in each region there is a variation in the preparation and the recipes have been passed from generation to generation.
They are normally prepared in large quantities and ahead of time. Besides, they say that when “it smells fried, it smells like Christmas”
According to tradition, at the end of dinner the table should not be cleared and the dishes should not be washed. And dinner leftovers shouldn’t be removed from the table either. They must stay just like during dinner to respect dead family members
And which is your Christmas Tradition?
The famous Bolo Rei is one of the best known Christmas traditions in Portugal. There is hardly any Portuguese family that does not respect this tradition. Round, with a hole in the middle and filled with candied fruits and nuts, they are the delight of the whole family.
Until a few years ago, this typical cake brought a metal object that was, however, prohibited in 1999 for safety reasons – and still a broad bean (which also came out of its composition). According to Portuguese tradition, the person to whom the slice of cake was served with the broad bean was the person responsible for, in the following year, buying the Bolo Rei.
Over time, this tradition has also been adapted, and there are now several variants of this traditional Christmas candy, such as Bolo Rainha for those who don’t like candied fruit, Chocolate King Cake and even the Bolo of Rei de Gila or with apple.
The story goes that the son of Baltasar Castanheiro, owner of the National Confectionery in Praça de Figueira, during a trip to Loire, France, tasted the galette des rois for the first time and, in love with the cake and the tradition of the bean, who decided who bought the cake the following year, imported the tradition in Lisbon. Nowadays, we can try this cake more or less between November and February at Confeitaria Nacional where, on December 23, the queue shows the importance of this tradition.
In Porto, the recipe is introduced by Confeitaria Cascais, which imported the tradition directly from Paris.
With the proclamation of the republic, the cake was in danger of disappearing because of the name “king”
Other names were proposed: national cake according to the National Confectionery or ex-king cake. Republicans proposed Bolo Presidente, Bolo Republicano or even Bolo Arriaga in relation to the first president of the Republic
But the tradition of this Christmas cake, besides being Portuguese, is found in different ways in many other countries:
– Galette des rois in France in brioche version or frangipane version with almond cream
– Dreikönigkuchen (the cake of the three kings) in Switzerland
– Roscón de reyes (galette des rois) in Majorca, much like the Portuguese version
– Brioche des rois in the Provencal Alps
– Rosca de Reyes in Mexico
– King Cake in New Orleans, official Mardi Gras (Carnaval) cake with colored sugar.
– Tortell of kings in Catalonia that can be simple or filled
And what will be your Christmas cake?
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.