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An Algarve Christmas - Food and more food...

An Algarve Christmas - Food and more food...

Have you ever considered escaping the Christmas chaos and spending nice easy and relaxing holiday season away? Or maybe taking the family out of where its chilly to celebrate in the sun? If you like the feeling of Christmas, but prefer less stress then the sunny Algarve may be a place you want to give a try. Here's are few reasons why...

You won't get a snowy white Christmas you may get else where, however... How about waking up on Christmas day and taking a look outside, to see bright sunny clear blue skies and then taking e a stroll on miles of beach? Although not typical Christmas weather, it can do the body and mind well to change things up. And worry not! The chubby man in red is a popular favorite and knows to visit homes in Portugal too.  


Though the Portuguese people have a slightly different and more quaint Christmas theme the feeling is very similar. The holiday season is a major part of Portuguese culture with many Portuguese towns holding Christmas nativity scenes organized by local communities and are open for the public to enjoy. The most popular being in the old market town of Vila Real de Santo António on the Spanish border which attracts visitors from all corners of Portugal.


Food is a major part of Portuguese Christmas, and although many areas of Portugal have differnt tradtions on what is served during this period one ritual that connects the entire country is eating Christmas Codfish as no meat is to be had before Christmas day. After dinner many religious families head to church to take part in a midnight mass "Missa". After mass, or at midnight for those not religous, everyone comes together to open gifts around the Christmas tree. Gift opening is usually followed by the second meal of the evening where meat is served. In the Algarve it's quite traditional to have the regional dish of pork and clams served followed by seafood and a large selection of home made desserts. 

 

Christmas day in Portugal is very similar to Christmas day in the UK and elsewhere with visiting of family and friends distributing more presents. Following this the food traditions beging again for a second day, Christmas day families normally enjoy a 4 course meal with appiiesrerds, soup and traditional roast turkey, or suckling pig dinner with all the trimmings. After the main course a round of desserts and cafe. Here desesrts can be very sugary sweet, some are fried and stuffed with spiced nutting fillings, creme caramel type puddings are quiet popular and so is Bolo Rei or "King Cake" when translated into english. Bolo Rei a very old tradition in Portugal, based on a sweet bread cake with eggs, nuts, dried fruits, raisins and topped with candied fruit and powdered sugar and is traditionally eaten between 25th of December (Nativity) and January the 6th (Epiphany). Bolo rei and the dessert part of the meal is often enjoyed with a strong Portuguese coffee, or tea, and often a little cheirino (alhcolic shot) of medronho, port or another from the wide and varied selection of Portuguese digestives. 


There are those who prefer to stick the same Christmas plans and traditions and do things like Grandma did. If looking for something a little differnt, and to advenuter to where Christmas isn't white and sub zero, Portugal may be the place for you. It's definatly for you if you love a strong food culture and being surrounded by great weather. Family and freinds you can bring along with you, or make some new ones and get yourself invited to a traditional Portugueuse home and experinace for yourself how the locals do it. Change is the spice of life, and you never know you may find there's some spiciness in the sun you want to start making a tradition.