A Merry Christmas in Portuguese

It’s that time of the year again. The time when families get together to eat way too much. The time to buy presents for everyone who is important for us and, of course, the time to listen to Mariah Carey.

All around the world everyone who celebrates Christmas is excited for it (unless they’re related to Grinch) and, if you’re a language lover and are looking for some Christmas related vocabulary in Portuguese, fear not because we’re here to help.

Let’s start with the basic: how do you say merry Christmas in Portuguese? Peanuts. It is “Feliz Natal”. Seems easy, right? As with everything in the Portuguese language, nothing is as easy as it looks. Although this is the most common way to wish a merry Christmas in Portuguese, you can also say “boas festas” which is something more general and refers to both Christmas and New Year. “Boas festas” is the equivalent to “happy holidays” even if “festa” is actually translated as a “party” and not as a “holiday”. Now that you know how to say merry Christmas in Portuguese, let’s move forward and guide through the festive season in Portugal.

Before Christmas

You start seeing Christmas related stuff in the stores in October. Yes, October, while we’re still using shorts. When it comes to the beginning of December, every street is full of “luzes” (lights), every house has a “árvore de Natal” (Christmas tree) with a “estrela” (star) on top and every mall has “músicas de natal” (Christmas songs aka Michael Bublé’s album) playing.

The present hunting

Portuguese Christmas traditions may be different from one region of the country to another, yet there is one that is common: no one buys any “presente” (present) until the 22nd of December and there are quite a few items that every Portuguese person receive every year such as: “meias” (socks), “pijamas” (pajamas), “chocolates” (no need to translate that one, right?) or “canecas” (mugs). If you’re looking for inspiration for a present, search for it somewhere else because no one wants to receive these!

Christmas Eve

The main goal of Portuguese people during Christmas is to eat as much as one can in just one night. You get together with all your “família” (family) – some of them you haven’t seen since last year’s Christmas – and you eat “bacalhau” (cod), “perú” (turkey) and, the most important part, the desserts such as “azevias”, “filhós”, “aletria”, “sonhos” and “rabanadas”.

The after

After everyone ate and drank way too much, it is time to open the presents and act extremely surprised after seeing the pajama your aunt is giving you for the 5th year in a row. The most religious families go to the “missa do galo” at the church to celebrate the birth of Jesus and, at the end of the day, everyone has a great time and gets sad with the thinking that we’ll have to wait another year to do all of this all over again!

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