The Easter tradition in Portugal has deep roots that go back to ancient times. Over the years, new generations have brought evolution to the traditions, but the essence of the celebration has remained the same.
In the medieval times, Easter was celebrated in a very different way than it is today. Instead of chocolate eggs and sweet almonds, Easter was a time of reflection and penitence. The faithful participated in processions and other religious ceremonies to remember the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As time went by, the Easter celebrations in Portugal changed and adapted to new traditions.
But before Easter, we have the period of Lent.
Lent is the 40-day period that precedes Easter.
In Portugal, Lent is a very respected and followed period by many people, especially the more religious ones. During these 40 days, many churches have daily masses, as well as spiritual retreats and other religious activities.
One of the most well-known Lenten traditions in Portugal is Good Friday, where many cities and towns hold religious processions through the streets. In these processions, it is common to see people dressed in dark clothes and holding candles or other religious symbols.
In addition, Lent is also a time of reflection and change of habits for many Portuguese. It’s a time to think about how we can be better people and help those around us. Because of this, many charities and religious organizations hold campaigns to donate food, clothes and other items to help those in need during Lent.
As mentioned before, Easter, is one of the most important festivities in the Christian calendar, and in Portugal it has been celebrated in many different ways over the years, many of these traditions are no longer so related to religion.
One of the oldest traditions associated with Easter in Portugal is the procession of the Burial of the Lord. This procession, which symbolizes the burial of Jesus Christ, is held in many Portuguese cities and towns on Good Friday. The faithful carry an image of Christ and walk through the streets of the city or town while people gather to watch and pray.
Another important tradition is the mass of the resurrection, which is celebrated on Easter Sunday morning. This mass marks the beginning of the Easter season and is a joyous and festive occasion.
In recent years, the tradition of decorating homes and churches with flowers has become increasingly popular in Portugal. During Holy Week, many churches fill up with colorful flowers and many Portuguese homes put flowers in their windows.
Food, as always, is an important part of the Easter celebration in Portugal. Most Portuguese families prepare a feast to celebrate the occasion.
In some places, the “Queima do Judas” is still performed. This tradition originated in the Middle Ages and consists of the creation of a dummy, representing Judas Iscariot, who is hanged and burned in public. This ritual is meant to symbolize the punishment of Judas for his betrayal of Jesus.
Another tradition that is kept in some parts of the country is the “Easter Folar”. This is a bread, which can be salty or sweet, and is offered as a gift at Easter. The folar can have different shapes and ingredients, depending on the region of the country where it is made. In some areas, it is customary to place a hard-boiled egg in the middle of the folar, which symbolizes the resurrection of Christ.
In recent years, Easter in Portugal has been increasingly influenced by traditions from other countries, such as the United States of America. Chocolate eggs and the Easter bunny, for example, have become increasingly popular in Portugal, especially among children.
It is also at Easter that godparents and godchildren exchange gifts.
Godparents are an important part of Portuguese culture, especially in the context of baptisms and weddings. Traditionally, godparents are chosen by the child’s parents and are responsible for providing emotional, financial and spiritual support.
At baptism, godparents have the responsibility to ensure that the child is raised in the Catholic faith. In addition, the godparents can help and actively participate in the child’s life.
Overall, godparents are seen as important figures in the lives of people in Portugal, providing emotional, financial and spiritual support, and helping to maintain local traditions and culture.
On Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter Sunday, the godchildren visit their godparents to give them something, usually bouquets of flowers and plants. The following Sunday, the godfathers visit their godchildren to give them something back.
Easter in Portugal has evolved over the years, adapting to new traditions and influences from other countries. However, the oldest traditions, such as “Queima do Judas” and “Folar da Páscoa”, are still practiced in some parts of the country and are a testimony to Portugal’s rich cultural history.