Easter traditions in Portugal

Apr 20, 2019 | Alentejo, Center of Portugal, Northern Portugal, Portuguese culture and lifestyle

Easter is a religious celebration and although Portugal is a lay state, most holidays are religious. Celebrating the resurrection of Jesus is taken very seriously in certain locations and there are reenactments of the most iconic passages of the Bible, regarding the Passion and Death of Jesus.

Learn more about Easter traditions in Portugal. From the commemorative representations to the most traditional recipes. There is a rich legacy and we will take you on a tour!

Paschal celebrations

Braga

Braga has always been, along with Fátima, one of the most religious cities in Portugal. During the Holy Week, there are reenactments of the Maundy Thursday (Last Supper and Foot-wash), of the Good Friday (crucifixion day and Jesus’ death) and Joyous Saturday (ascent of Jesus to Heaven) and Easter Sunday (the resurrection).

Procession of the Lord «Ecce Homo» – Holy Thursday – Braga
The ceremony of Feet Washing – Holy Thursday – Braga
Easter Vigil and Procession of Resurrection – Holy Saturday – Braga

Óbidos

In Óbidos during the Holy Week, the last moments of Jesus’ life are reenacted on the Way of the Cross. On the Good Friday at 9:30 pm, there is a funeral procession, illuminated by torches, to Jesus tomb. This is a particularly emotional moment, as it is an invitation to contrition and recolletion.

Castelo de Vide

In Castelo de Vide, Easter is one of the most iconic celebrations!

It is especially interesting as it combines both the Christian and Jewish Cultures.

There are two main moments of the celebrations: from Palm Sunday to the Good Friday, and from the night of the Good  Friday to Bright Monday, where the Jewish influences are more present.

One of the most iconic of these celebrations takes place on Saturday morning (Joyous Saturday) when the village shepherds gather their flocks for blessing and then sold.

The sold purchased sheep are killed on that day, following the Jewish tradition (Some people opt to kill the animals on the night of the Good Friday, according to the Bible.)

After that, the animals are placed at the houses doors and the cleaned skins are sold to local craftsmen. The meat will be used on the Paschal menu.

On Saturday night there is a unique celebration: the blessing of the new light and baptismal water. At the church entrance, some people approach and ask for forgiveness in secrecy, a reminiscence of the Jewish Kippur tradition, an act of atonement.

After the mass, the procession walks the streets of Castelo de Vide, accompanied by the Philharmonic band and the church bells. This is one of the most impressive moments of the celebrations as all participants carry rattles and bells and play them during and after the procession.

Even if you are not Catholic or Jewish, these are cultural elements and experiences that can enrich your visit.

Braga, Óbidos and Castelo de Vide are beautiful! Why not combine the uniqueness of the celebrations with the uniqueness of these locations and enjoy a weekend in Portugal?

Easter Menu

It’s not a secret that Portuguese people like to eat! A meal is always a good excuse to spend some time with family and friends. To enjoy the traditional recipes and good wine. Regardless of your faith, this is a celebration of life and joy!

In the northern and northeastern regions of Portugal, the main dish for Easter Sunday lunch is a roasted kid (young goat) in the oven, served with baked potatoes and saffron rice.

In the Minho region, there are also traditional egg rolls, called ‘folar’. It’s a sweet dough, seasoned with cinnamon and fennel.

‘Pão-de-ló’ is also a very typical dessert. Made with flour, eggs, and sugar, it’s one of the best cakes in Portuguese traditional cuisine.

Going South, the main dish might be lamb stew. Or, in some cities, roast suckling pig. The desserts are similar to the ‘folar’ in the northern region. Add a very different recipe: ‘folar de Olhão’ in the Algarve region. This is a recipe for an egg roll that is totally unique: sheets of cinnamon dough are placed on top of each other,  interspersed by a syrup made with honey and cinnamon. Mouthwatering, right?

You will find ‘Easter gifts’ everywhere. Colorful and delicious. For kids and adults alike. No one can resist them!

 

Happy Easter!

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