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Portugal – Customs and Holidays
Customs and Etiquette
The culture of Portugal is predominantly traditional and conservative, and its people generally uphold these values, while simultaneously being very pleasant, nice, and polite. The initial interactions are always polite, if a little reserved, but once a personal relationship has been established, greetings become more personal.
A traditional way of greeting among Portuguese people is two kisses on each cheek, starting with the right. The Portuguese also hold up to formal greetings, such as “senhor” and “senhora”, or even “dotour” and “dotoura”, and it is advised to use these until otherwise suggested.
Flowers, as well as sweets and chocolate, are also a major part of the Portuguese etiquette. It is normal to bring one or all three of these as a gift when invited to a Portuguese home for dinner, for example.
However, you should mind the selection of the flowers. Red is commonly associated with revolution, so red flowers may not be the best choice for gifts. It is also recommended that you avoid lilies and chrysanthemum, as these are usually used for funerals.
Holidays and Celebrations
Many spectacular holidays and celebrations are held in Portugal. The Portuguese celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December, and there are numerous festivities held all over Portugal during that whole month.
The Carnival, or the “Entrudo”, which is the beginning of the Lent, is celebrated in February, during the 3 day period before Ash Wednesday. This holiday is typically celebrated with parties, dances, and colourful parades throughout the streets.
Every May, Portugal greets Catholics from all around the world, who come to join the Pilgrimage to Fatima, which is located about 100km from Lisbon. A candlelight parade graces the streets of Portugal on May the 12th, and on the 13th pilgrims and devotees from all over the country and the world gather at the sanctuary to celebrate the anniversary of the first apparition of the Virgin Mary to the Shepherds in 1917.
Portugal celebrates its independence on Portugal’s National Day, which falls on the 10th of June, and it consists of numerous and diverse cultural activities.
National Gastronomy Festival in October is one of the major food festivals in the country. Those who visit are provided with opportunity to enjoy Portuguese traditional and regional food, as well as wine and the sounds of traditional Portuguese music.
On the 1st of November, the Portuguese all over the country visit cemeteries and decorate the graves of their departed loved ones, for All Saints Day.