Merry Christmas in Portugal

Christmas is a very important season in Portugal: families get together, people get closer to each other, business thrives and delicious food is cooked.
Portugal is proud of its cooking. I have travelled quite a bit and I can say that the Portuguese food is one of the best in the whole world.
On the 23rd of December women (as tradition dictates) start cooking and preparing the meal for Christmas Eve. This may sound odd, but preparing the sweets is hard work, and it seems to take forever.

I now invite you to get to know a bit of the Portuguese Christmas menu.
The table is set on the 24th of December.

Dinner on Christmas Eve
The Portuguese tradition is to eat cod-fish (either boiled and served with potatoes, cabbage, carrots and bathed by olive oil; or cooked in the oven with cream and veggies or even grilled with roasted potatoes showered by olive oil); but we also eat roasted lamb or turkey (a borrowed tradition, from the Anglo-Saxons).

(Roasted Lamb)

(Cod-fish with roasted potatoes)

Even though I do not celebrate Christmas, I must confess that I love profiting from all the cooking done in this time of the year.
Look at the sweets below...

This first image depicts "Sonhos" [translation: dreams] (a fried dough, that afterwards is either eaten with syrup [made of sugar, cinnamon and lemon peal] or sugar and cinnamon) - they are a must in every Portugese Christmas table; and their flavour is absolutely dreamy!


This second image shows us the Rabanadas (fried bread, that afterwards is either served with with syrup or sugar and cinnamon) - it is best eaten on Christmas morning with a good cup of coffee.


This third picture shares the image of Filhoses de abóbora (fried pumpkin dough which is served with sugar and cinnamon, although in some parts of the country it is served with syrup) - I only have one word to describe these filhoses [the "lh" sound in Portuguese is like the double L in Spanish): Yummy!!

(Filhoses de Abóbora)

And this last picture, but not the least, shows the legendary Arroz Doce (Rice Puddin sprinkled with cinnamon). There is not a Portuguese home or restaurant where you can't find this wonderful dessert. And its presence is vital during Christmas time (although we eat it all year round).

(Arroz Doce)

These sweets garnish wonderfully any Christmas table and lash the air with its delightful perfume (cinnamon does wonders to the senses).
They are also the reason why the reasonable Portuguese spend January, February and March exercising to burn off all these calories.

Now you know a bit about the Portuguese eating habits and I hope it raised, in you, the curiosity to one day try our cuisine.
But while you do not...

Happy Festivities!!

Images: found through Google Images


  1. Those look SO good. Indo has no traditional culinary Christmas food - I guess 'coz Christians are a minority there.

    Here in Finland the traditional food is ham.

    Those fried doughs look similar to those we have in Indo and also here in Finland though they're not made of pumpkin and not served with syrup or anything else he he...

  2. Oh dear Max this time you made me want to get up and cook too. I can actually smell the food, I am little congested, but I can still smell it here, lol.

    So you got fried bread, that's sounds like our French toast, lol, which we also dip in egg and then fry it.

    I love Christmas for the same reason too, [not to mention getting together with family], especially some of the foods are only prepared for that occasion.

    Max, I know you don't celebrate Christmas, but you just calling for good wishes. It is so nice to see someone who appreciates other cultures and religions. You are a total blessing in the sky, we need more good souls like you in this world.

    Again wishing you lots of happiness, joy, and health of course, and happy eating!

    Anna :)

  3. I think that if I lived in your country, I would be obese. :) My husband's family is from Puerto Rico, and also have the tradition of eating dried codfish. I've never cooked it myself, but I like it. I might have to google some of these recipes. The pumpkin dessert looks great! Thanks for sharing your traditions Max!
    Oh, interesting, my word verification is "ticakes". Sounds like another chirstmas goody. :)

  4. Tendre Max,
    Merci pour ce voyage des papilles dans votre merveilleux pays.
    Bonne Fête à vous et aux vôtres,
    car je ne saurais vous imaginer sans partage dans ces jours de convivialités, et que "la trêve des confiseurs" devienne la trêve tout court devançant la paix en chacun de nous.

  5. Max:



  6. I had arroz doce and sohnos in Brazil I believe.

    Cod is one of my favorite fish, it is so tasty! Beignets de morue (cod dumpling) are popular in some part of France.

    Enjoy these holidays!

  7. What a lovely post and how much to learn about your Xmas traditions - thanks so much for sharing and for document it with such lovely photos!

    Cod and pig are traditional Christmas Eve food in Norway - but I guess you know all of that from my blog :-)

    Happy Festivities to you too - or Good Yuletide, as we say it in Norway.

  8. That does look awfully tasty. Makes me want to plan my next Christmas in Portugal.

    Is it sensible for a non-Portuguese speaker to take a holiday in Portugal?

  9. Hi Max,


    Merry Christmas Portugal and Happy Festivities Max!

  10. Hey Max! Happy New Year!

    The photos made me hungry, lol. I want to try some Portuguese food!

    Take care sweetie. I hope the new year brings more blessings to all of us. *hugs*

  11. Hi! If you have any left overs can you send them to me in a doggy bag! I'll pay the freight charges and worry about customs for you!

    All the best for 2010!

    Take Care,

  12. Très cher Max,

    Beaucoup de temps s'est passé depuis nos derniers échanges...
    C'est pourquoi je suis là aujourd'hui pour vous offrir un sourire et quelques souhaits pour ce tout nouveau début d'Année. Bonheur et tendresse pour vous Max pour cette année mais aussi pour toutes celles qui suivront.
    Vos images sont assez incroyables... Cela donne vraiment envie !


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