How we celebrate Christmas in Portugal

I grew up in a multi-cultural family and naturally got to experience things from various cultures. I experienced Portuguese culture, as well as Scandinavian and Austrian/German Christmas cultures.

Last year I spent Christmas with Markus and his family in Austria and it was my first time experiencing Christmas here. So today I thought about sharing with you how we spend Christmas in Portugal – or at least how my Mother’s family does. Curious? Keep reading:

Christmas in Portugal

Christmas in Portugal

I can’t tell you how other families in Portugal spend Christmas. My Mum has a total of 7 siblings, some of them are married. In the last few years, the family spent Christmas Eve together and sometimes also Christmas day. 

Usually, my parents and I to my aunt Odete (who usually cooks the dinner on Christmas Eve), eat dinner there and open the family’s presents together. Afterward we drive back home and open our own presents. On Christmas day we usually spend the day at home and my Mum cooks a goose or a turkey (that my Dad seasons behind her back). 

Food on Christmas Eve

Last year we had Raclette with at Markus’ Dad. It was very yummy and the evening went by very well. In Portugal, you can eat various things on Christmas Eve, but usually, dinner is cooked codfish with potatoes and cabbage. My aunt is always so nice and cooks me an egg as well and she usually also makes some carrots. Usually it looks like this, naturally with a lot of olive oil:

Christmas in Portugal

I have to admit I’m not the biggest fan of boiled codfish. But after two years in Austria, I’m even excited to eat it this Christmas!

After dinner, the desserts are set on the table and everyone can take what they want. Until my cousin was born we would wait until twelve to open the presents and would use the time to eat something sweet. Now we don’t wait that long, but we still have a few hours to snack on the desserts. What desserts are there, you ask?

Christmas in Portugal

Rice pudding, for example. But not like in Austria! In Portugal it is only seasoned with cinnamon and part of a lemon’s skin is cooked in the milk. If you get the lemon skin, you’re supposed to be lucky.

Christmas in Portugal

Bolo Rei is translated into “King’s cake”. It has dried fruit and isn’t too sweet. I personally don’t really like it, but my Mum loves it. I’m always happy to get her one.

Christmas in Portugal

Above you can see another typical Portuguese Christmas sweet. It’s called Sonhos, which translated into “dreams”.

My Mum makes these every year and she is very good at it, even though I don’t really like them myself. After being fried they’re rolled in sugar and cinnamon and smell divine. I don’t like the texture of the sugar outside, so I never really eat them. I tried a similar dish in Linz, without the sugar, and it was really good though.

Christmas in Portugal

Above is the only Christmas dessert that I actually like. It’s called Tronco de Natal (translated into Christmas Log) and inside has either chocolate or egg candy. Unfortunately I’m the only one that actually likes it so we only really had it once or twice. I once made it myself for my Mum’s birthday and even my Dad ate a bit!

These are some of the things you eat in Portugal during Christmas. Of course, there are others, like octopus salad or lamb. But the ones I wrote about ate the ones we usually have in our family. At my parents’ home we also always have traditional German/Austrian things like Weihnachtsstollen, cookies, apple cake and Apfelstrudel.



  1. 23. December 2016 / 5:40 pm

    Ich finde es immer super spannend zu sehen, wie andere Weihnachten verbringen – deine Version gefällt mir auch sehr gut 🙂 Ich bin mit meinem Freund meisten an Weihnachten bei seinen Eltern und am 1. Feiertag dann bei meinen, zu essen gibt es meist nichts spektakuläres aber das muss es für mich auch gar nicht

    Liebe Grüße und schöne Weihnachten
    Stephi von

    • Rosie Waldherr
      26. February 2017 / 6:53 pm

      Wir verbringen Weihnachten nur so wenn wir in Portugal sind (so wie letztes Jahr), sonst sind wir eh bei seinen Eltern auch =)

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