Let there be Light: Portuguese Holiday Traditions

Photo by Jose Ferreira, Jr.

I hope each and every one of you is enjoying the countdown to the holidays. Advent is in full swing in Portugal: Everywhere you turn there are elaborate light shows, including these street displays in Lisbon. Families make a special point of bringing their children in from the suburbs or smaller towns to walk around at night and take in the magical feeling.

The Portuguese also love creating elaborate Nativity scenes, called PresĂ©pio. The statuettes combine Baroque detailing with a very simple folk art sensibility–many, in fact, are made from cork. The most stunning examples are found in churches, including the Santa Maria Maior de Lisboa cathedral.

What are your favorite holiday traditions in your town or city?

1 Response to “Let there be Light: Portuguese Holiday Traditions”


  1. 1 Elizabeth December 8, 2009 at 1:48 am

    When we lived in Salzburg we were fascinated by Krampus, the evil counterpart of St. Nicolas. Up until St. Nicolas’ day, these very scary monsters (sort of furry with elaborately carved masks) roam the streets and parades and hit people with furry whips. As Americans, we were surprised that the Austrians let their small children go to the events (known as Krampus Runs) because we felt that they were so frightening. But the Austrians love them.

    At home, we love getting together with other families and singing Christmas carols.


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