Portuguese Culture

Portugal’s culture: traditions, customs, gastronomy, religion

Video: Culture of Portugal: traditions, customs, gastronomy, religion


The Culture of Portugal It is one of the most vibrant in Europe. It has been strongly influenced by the Catholic tradition, and this connection with religion has largely shaped its celebrations, social values and customs.

Portugal has a fairly homogeneous society and does not have many ethnic groups on its territory. Their language is Portuguese, a language of Latin origin that was declared official by King Dinis or Dionisio I of Portugal. Other types of dialects are not common in Portugal, but there may be communities speaking other languages, especially near the borders with Spain.

As far as celebrations are concerned, the out-of-town celebrations are moments of joy and fellowship. Many of the celebrations are related to religious reasons and showcase typical elements of the country, such as food or music.

For its part, gastronomy in Portugal is one of the most relevant aspects. The Portuguese pay special attention to the preparation and timing of meals. They love to banquet and delight in their traditional dishes. They often combine flavors of the sea and sushi, and one of the outstanding ingredients in their culinary culture is cod.

Portugal is also a place that tends to relive the past and honor characters from history. The saints are highly revered, and their customs remember a time of exploration and discovery.


Madeira Wine Festival.

This is a celebration that lasts for about two weeks from August to September. It is a party with many activities related to the common theme of wine. It usually takes place in the city of Funchal and the municipality of the Câmara de Lobos Strait.

Harvesting is one of the most relevant practices during the holidays. It also recreates the traditional winemaking methods of Madeira. People can participate in the harvesting and cultivation of the grapes.

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Among other activities, there are various art exhibitions related to the theme, and there are also musical presentations with different genres and groups that can range from choral singing to jazz and traditional music.

The origin of this holiday dates back to the 1970s and has become popular over time. It is a way of celebrating the harvest and the production of wine, one of Madeira’s most representative products, which also makes the place popular all over the world.

Colombo Festival.

This is a festival dedicated to Christopher Columbus’ voyages and his steps on Madeira, the place he came in contact with during the years of his life and where he married Filipe Moniz Perestrelo in 1479. Porto Santo is precisely the island where the different dynamics of these celebrations are carried out during the month of September.

Among the events are theatricals and performances celebrating Columbus’ travels around the island. The most popular of these examples is the one that recreates the arrival of Christopher Columbus in port.

The streets are decorated with medieval motifs and exhibitions, there are handicraft sales, music shows, dancing, 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 symbolic holidays and are much anticipated in Portugal. As usual, the celebration takes place days and even weeks before Lent, culminating in the arrival of Ash Wednesday.

It is celebrated all over the country, its days full of music, dancing, food, parades and lots of colors. Among the most prominent elements for the Portuguese are the carnival costumes, which are carefully prepared for display during these days. There are even contests to reward the most elaborate.

The carnival tradition originated from a custom that was born during Lent, a period that involves a period of fasting for the faithful, in which meat, sweets and fatty foods are suppressed and certain rules of conduct must be observed. With this in mind, people saw the need to eat all these foods before Lent.

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Thus began the carnivals, which later turned into feasts and celebrations as a kind of preparation for the following days of Lent. They most often took place from February to March.

Medieval Market.

This is a fair that takes place for two weeks in the village of Obidos, especially in the premises of the castle and the western walls of the city. It takes place during the last days of July and the first days of August.

The event offers a journey back to medieval times, with many actors and other artists dressed according to the time and imitate various character characters, interacting with the people who are in the streets. There were also game tournaments and banquets in the Middle Ages.

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

Feast of St. Anthony

June becomes one of the most representative for the city of Lisbon in celebrating St. Anthony. On these dates there is a return to tradition. The streets are decorated with many colorful ornaments, and numerous stores and impromptu stalls begin to offer the public a great variety of products, including the typical sardine, which becomes the most prized food of those days.

On the other hand, although the celebration of San Antonio officially begins on June 13, the day of his death, Lisbon throws a party from the 12th, with one of the most symbolic events: multiple weddings. Just over a dozen couples celebrate weddings on this day. These weddings are held for low-income families and become a very popular event even when viewed on television.

On the other hand, there are also dances, musical events and incans. The popular beverage of these incantations is beer. All in all, Lisbon’s commemoration of St. Anthony, the city’s patron saint, will last until June 24, St. John’s Day.

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Lisbon is the site of this celebration because St. Anthony came from this city and was recognized for his devotion. He died in Padua in 1231.


Use the Barcelouche rooster as a Portuguese symbol

Although not an official national icon, the Barcelouche rooster is a representative element of this country. It is usually embroidered, carved and painted on surfaces. It is practically the best souvenir for visitors who want to bring a souvenir from Portugal.

The origin of this legend is varied, as there are many versions about it, but one of the most famous tells the story of a pilgrim who was saved from death by the song of this animal.

Upon arrival in Barcelouche, this man was falsely accused and sentenced to be hanged. When he was brought before the judge, he tried unsuccessfully to prove his innocence. With this in mind, he declared that the rooster, which was served between banquet meals, would sing during his execution, thus proving his innocence.

Thus, shortly before the sentence of death, the rooster would stand on the table and crow, thereby avoiding the death of the pilgrim. From this story, the image of this animal would become a tradition.

Love of traditional food

Portuguese society pays special attention to its traditional foods and their sharing. It is customary to enjoy a meal, especially if it is a family gathering or in the company of friends. The Portuguese can spend a lot of time doing this, as they try to experience it as best they can.

Eat sweets in the morning.

It is a common habit to eat sweets, which can be classified as dessert, in the morning, for breakfast or in the middle of the morning.

Arguments may seem like fights.

Portuguese are prone to euphoric or passionate arguments, so they can be mistaken for fights. Foreigners very often think that several Portuguese citizens are fighting when they are actually discussing or debating a topic.

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Significance for the family

Family is one of the most important social environments for the Portuguese. Loyalty and unity prevail, as do family traditions. Sundays are usually devoted to loved ones.


Bacalao Dorado.

This is a very famous and simple Portuguese dish. It consists of a desalted preparation of cod with an egg and finely chopped potatoes. Additives such as olives and parsley are also added.It is called “golden” because of the color the fish takes on when combined with the egg.

Green Soup

This is a traditional soup of chard, potatoes, olive oil, black pepper and salt. Garlic and onions can also be added. Some additional options include meat or ham.

This is a dish that usually accompanies family gatherings or celebrations. Originally from the province of Minho. Green broth is often found on any menu. It is sometimes served as an appetizer before the main course.

Little French.

This is a typical dish of the city of Porto, sandwich-style with a filling of sausage, ham and beefsteak. It also contains melted cheese on the surface, which is baked. A slightly tangy tomato-beer sauce is added to this sandwich. It can be served with fried eggs and potatoes as side dishes.

Pork a la Alentejana

This is a local dish from Alentejo in Portugal. This recipe combines pork, an animal raised in the area, and seafood, particularly clams.

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


This dish comes from the southern part of Portugal, in the Algarve. This recipe combines various seafood ingredients such as stingray, monkfish, salmon, shrimp and clams. It is cooked in the traditional way in the eponymous “cataplana” container, which was originally made of copper but is now made of aluminum or stainless steel.

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The recipe may include ham and chorizo, among other things. Seasonings and dressings include garlic, onion, bay leaf, green pepper and salt. White wine and brandy are also recommended.


The most famous Portuguese music genre worldwide is Fado, which dates back to the 19th century, specifically the 1820s, originating in Lisbon.

It is characterized by a melancholy tone. It deals with issues such as the harshness of everyday life, difficult situations, and is associated with elements such as the sea. It seeks to balance humility and hope.

Some of the most widely used instruments in fado are the twelve-string guitars, the viola, and the eight-string bass. There are those who link the roots of fado with African rhythms, the traditional music of Portuguese sailors, and some nuances of Arabs.

There are also other typical musical instruments in Portugal, such as the big drum, 12-string guitar, various types of viola, cavaquinho and bagpipe falsa.


Portugal is a country with freedom of religion, but it has a long Catholic tradition, and it is estimated that one in ten Portuguese identify with Catholicism, in addition to the fact that most of the population usually attends Mass regularly.

Catholicism has had a great influence on this society and its culture. Most of the traditions that are celebrated and observed in Portugal are closely related to religion. There are also minority groups from other branches of Christianity, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses. On the other hand, there is also the presence of Jews and Muslims to a lesser extent.

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