11 julio, 2024

Culture of Portugal: traditions, customs, gastronomy, religion

The portuguese culture It is one of the most striking in Europe. It has been strongly influenced by the Catholic tradition and this link to religion has largely shaped its celebrations, social values ​​and customs.

Portugal has a fairly homogeneous society and does not have a great multiplicity of ethnic groups within its territory. Their language is Portuguese, a language of Latin origin, which was declared official by King Dinis or Dionisio I of Portugal. Other types of dialects within Portugal are not frequent, however, there may be communities that speak other languages, especially those near the borders with Spain.

As for celebrations, within the country the holidays are moments dedicated to joy and sharing. Many of the celebrations are linked to religious reasons and within them typical elements of the country such as food or music are exhibited.

For its part, gastronomy in Portugal is one of the most relevant aspects. The Portuguese pay special attention to cooking and eating times. They enjoy holding banquets and have admiration for their traditional dishes. Many times they combine flavors of the sea and land and among some of the outstanding ingredients of their culinary culture, is cod.

Also, Portugal is a place that tends to relive the past and honor the characters of history. The saints are highly celebrated and the time of explorations and discoveries are remembered within their customs.



Madeira Wine Festival

It is a celebration that takes place for approximately two weeks between the months of August and September. It is a party in which multiple activities are carried out, all related to a common theme, wine. It usually takes place in the city of Funchal and the municipality of the Strait of Cámara de Lobos.

Harvests are one of the most important practices within the holidays. There is also a recreation of the traditional methods of Madeira in terms of winemaking. People can participate in the harvest and stomping of grapes.

Among other events, various artistic exhibitions related to the theme are held and musical presentations are also organized with various genres and groups that can range from choral singing to jazz and traditional music.

The origin of this celebration dates back to the 70s and has become popular over time. It is a way of celebrating the harvests and the production of wine, one of the most representative products of Madeira, and which also gives popularity to this site around the world.

colombo festival

It is a festivity dedicated to the voyages of Christopher Columbus and his steps through the Madeira region, a place with which he was in contact for several years of his life and where he married Filipa Moniz Perestrelo in 1479. Porto Santo is specifically the island in which the different dynamics of these holidays are carried out during the month of September.

Among the activities, theatrical performances and stagings dedicated to the voyages of Columbus around the island stand out. The most popular of these displays is the one that recreates the arrival of Christopher Columbus at the port.

The streets are decorated with medieval motifs and there are exhibitions, craft sales, musical shows, dance, traditional gastronomic offerings and more.


As in many regions of the world with a historical past marked by Christianity, carnivals are one of the most emblematic celebrations and in Portugal they are highly anticipated. As usual, the festivity takes place days and even weeks before Lent, culminating with the arrival of Ash Wednesday.

It is celebrated throughout the country, with days filled with music, dances, food, floats, parades, and lots of colors. Among the most outstanding elements for the Portuguese, are the carnival costumes, which are prepared with great care to be exhibited during these days. Even, contests are held to reward the most elaborate.

The tradition of carnival is born from a custom that is born for Lent, a period that implies a fasting season for believers in which meat, sweets and fatty foods are suppressed, in addition to following certain rules of behavior. Given this, people saw the need to consume all these types of food before the arrival of Lent.

This is how the carnivals began and later began to be overflow and celebration parties, as a type of preparation for the following days of fasting. Most of the time they take place between the months of February and March.

medieval market

It is a fair that is organized for two weeks in the village of Óbidos, especially in the spaces of the castle that is located there and the western walls of the city. It occurs during the final days of July and the first days of August.

The event proposes a trip to medieval times, so many actors and other artists dress according to those times and simulate different characters characteristic of the moment, interacting with people who are in the streets. In addition, gaming tournaments and medieval-style banquets are organized.

For their part, many merchants sell typical gastronomy and even items inspired by the Middle Ages, such as costumes and more.

Feast of San Antonio

The month of June becomes one of the most representative for the city of Lisbon in the celebration of San Antonio. During these dates a return to traditions is made. The streets are decorated with many colored ornaments and multiple shops and improvised stalls begin to offer the public a wide variety of products, including the typical sardine, which becomes the most precious food during those days.

On the other hand, although the celebration of San Antonio officially begins on June 13, the date of his death, Lisbon starts partying from the 12th, with one of the most emblematic events, multiple weddings. During this day, a little more than a dozen couples celebrate their wedding. These weddings are held for low-income families and become a very popular event, even with television tuning.

On the other hand, dances, musical events and gymkhanas are also organized. The popular drink of these dates is beer. In general, the festival in Lisbon in commemoration of San Antonio, patron saint of the city, lasts until June 24, the day of San Juan.

Lisbon is the venue for this celebration since San Antonio is originally from this city and was recognized for his great devotion. He died in Padua in the year 1231.


Use the Rooster of Barcelos as a Portuguese symbol

Despite not being an official national icon, the Barcelos rooster is a representative element of this country. It is usually embroidered, carved and painted on surfaces. It is practically the quintessential souvenir for visitors looking to take home a souvenir of Portugal.

The origin of this legend is varied since there are a large number of versions about it, however, one of the best known tells of the story of a pilgrim who was saved from death thanks to the song of this animal.

Upon arriving in Barcelos, the man was unjustly accused and sentenced to hang. When he was in front of the judge, he tried to prove his innocence without success. At this he declared that the rooster, which was served among the banquet food, would crow at the time of his execution thus proving his innocence.

In this way, just before being sentenced to death, the rooster got up on the table and crowed, thus avoiding the death of the pilgrim. From this story, the image of this animal would become a tradition.

Love for traditional food

Portuguese society pays special attention to its traditional foods and sharing them. It is customary to enjoy food, especially if they are family gatherings or among friends. The Portuguese can spend a lot of time on this, as it is something they try to experience as well as possible.

Eat sweet in the morning

It is a widespread habit to eat a sweet that could be classified as dessert, during the morning, either as breakfast or in the middle of the morning.

Arguments can look like fights

The Portuguese can tend to debate in a euphoric or passionate way, so it could be mistaken for a fight. It is very common for foreigners to think that a couple of Portuguese citizens are fighting when they are actually discussing or debating some topic.

Importance for the family

One of the most relevant social environments for the Portuguese is the family. Loyalty and togetherness prevail as well as family traditions. It is common for Sundays to be dedicated to close people.


Bacalao Dorado

It is a fairly recognized and simple dish of Portuguese origin. It consists of a preparation of desalted cod with eggs and potatoes cut into fine pieces. Additives such as black olives and parsley are also added. It is called «golden» because of the color that the fish acquires when it is combined with the egg.

Green soup

It is a traditional soup made with chard, potatoes, olive oil, black pepper and salt. You can also add garlic and onion. Among some additional variants, some type of meat or leg ham is added.

It is a dish that usually accompanies family celebrations or festivities. He is originally from the province of Minho. It is very common to see the green broth in any menu. Sometimes it is served as a starter, before the main course.

Little Frenchie

It is a typical dish from the city of Porto and it is a style of sandwich stuffed with sausages, ham and beef steak. In addition, it contains melted cheese on the surface, which is gratin. This sandwich is accompanied by a slightly spicy sauce based on tomato and beer. It can be served with fried egg and potatoes as sides.

Alentejo-style pork

It is a native dish from Alentejo, in Portugal. It is a recipe that combines pork, an animal that is raised in this area, and shellfish, specifically clams.

The meat is cut into pieces and marinated before frying with paprika, bay leaf, garlic, coriander, parsley, vinegar, white wine and seasoned with oregano, salt and pepper. Coriander is also added later in copious amounts, along with the clams.

the cataplana

It is a dish originating from the south of Portugal, in the Algarve. This recipe combines various ingredients from the sea such as skate, monkfish, salmon, shrimp, and clams. It is traditionally prepared in a container of the same name, «cataplana», which was originally made of copper but is now made from aluminum or stainless steel.

The recipe may include, among other meats, ham and chorizo. Regarding condiments and dressings, garlic, onions, bay leaf, green peppers and salt are included. White wine and brandy are also additives par excellence.


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