Christmas in Portugal
27th of December 2017
I love the Portuguese Christmas.
It’s simple but beautiful.
At least that’s how it is where I spend my Christmas.
A good company with family and friends is a precious gift that not everyone receives.
I went north to my friends and spent Christmas with them.
I left my home on the 24th in the morning and drove north. The traffic was not heavy but my lord how fast they drove. Sometimes I think some of the drivers think their world is disappearing and they are in a hurry to catch the last moments. This is not just Portuguese drivers, the immigrants are here now and of course the foreigners that live in the country are not all very good drivers.
So, how is Christmas in Portugal, the Portuguese one, spent?
Where I stay there is a light lunch at the 24th and we are all preparing for the wonderful food that will be served in the evening.
Christmas Eve is just like in any other country. The food, the presents, the songs and the company are on.
My family, the Portuguese one that has adopted me, make a wonderful food. I like their food even though I don´t like most of the food in my land. Perhaps the reason is that they lived in France for a long time and perhaps adjusted a bit to that culture.
Seafood, Portuguese codfish and a lot of other wonderful food.
At the table are the family and the closest friends. Everyone is having a good time. Laughter and a lot of talking is of course the joy.
This Christmas we reflected on the horror in October when they woke up surrounded by fires and no help to get.
The memory is raw. Outside the kitchen window there is the testimony. Burned trees everywhere and even houses destroyed. The wind spread the fires. This was an October that no one will forget.
Life has to go on, there is no way around it, and everyone is trying to adjust. Some are doing better than others but the community is united.
The Christmas gifts are the company, the laughter and the smiles. We don´t need huge expensive gifts, most important is being together and being alive.
After dinner with families the friends come over and sit down and have a cake or desert or a glass of wine. This is a close community.
Everyone goes to bed late, very late, at 2 o’clock those who give up first. There is a feeling of not ending the evening. Just continuing the unity but as you know we also do have to rest a bit.
On the 25th, the Christmas day, we get up late. No need to go to work or do anything at all. This is the day to enjoy yesterday’s memories and prepare for the mass in the little church.
A light lunch and wood in the fire to keep us warm is cosy and wonderful.
At 4:15 the mass is on.
Everyone from my household went to the mass, except the dog she stayed at home.
The church is cold, of course, and I had brought with me my warm fur coat and it kept me warm throughout the mass. Since I am always cold I had perhaps more clothes on than anyone else in the congregation.
15 Children or thereabout, sung at the end of the mass and after them I sung the beautiful Icelandic Ave Maria. It is amazing full of emotion and I love it.
At the end everyone is hugging everyone and wishing each other Merry Christmas. I got a lot of warm hugs and some thanked me with tears in their eyes for my song.
What more can you wish for when performing? If you reach the peoples inner most feelings and they shed a tear you know you have done well.
This was my contribution to the congregation and it went well.
After the mass it was pouring rain, the church is just few meters from the house and we almost run and everyone was wet. Some had umbrellas with them but those who did not were offered one and they united under a big one. Suddenly there were many umbrellas outside at the veranda, some of them belonging somewhere else. This is how it is in a close community.
The dinner was chicken and wonderful salads with homemade ice cream and of course more cakes. Fever people were at this dinner than the day before. There are other families to visit as well.
This evening we went to bed early, a bit after midnight and woke up fresh the next morning. Just an ordinary day ahead. Some had to go to work and others just to meet their friends at the coffee shop and read the newspaper. In Portugal we don´t have second in Christmas as in some other countries. Now the Christmas is over and we wait for the New Year and the last day of this year.