21 Dec 2017 1778
PortoBay Hotels & Resorts PortoBay Hotels & Resorts
#Christmas #tradition

Christmas in the Algarve is . ..

Traditional sweets, nativity scenes and carolling . .. Come discover what this season is like in the south of Portugal !!

Watch the candlelight procession

The Algarve's most important religious festival begins on 07 December with a candlelight procession in tribute to Saint Peter of the Sea, the patron saint of fishermen. A mass is held at 2 o'clock on 08 December, followed by a procession towards the sea to bless the fishermen and their boats.

Tasting Algarve sweets

All of the figs harvested and put out to dry in September suddenly reappear, especially for Christmas. They can be flattened or come in the shape of a star, decorated with almonds or covered in sugar and cinnamon. Does that sound mouthwatering ? Along with the figs, try the fried dough "filhoses", "gila" puff pastries, almond pastries and dried fruits from the region.

Leaving hay and carrots for the horses

On the night of 05 January, children fill their shoes with carrots and hay and leave them on their windowsills and doorsteps. According to tradition, the hungry horses of the Three Wise Men come to eat the carrots and hay, and then leave candied fruit and sweets for the children.


Between Christmas and Twelfth Night, tradition dictates that you must go out carolling, where you will be given rewards in exchange. Another Christmas tradition in the Algarve are the "charolas", groups of musicians who sing songs about the birth of Jesus and the Wise Men.

Seeing the nativity scenes

The traditional "mountain" nativity scene, common in many places in the Algarve countryside, is built on a staircase: on top is the baby Jesus, and the throne is adorned with embroidered linens, dried crop shoots, flowers and oranges of the Algarve.

Turkey, "Empanadilhas" and Chicken Stew . ..

Roasted turkey, with or without stuffing, is another classic Christmas lunch. With variations from region to region, it can be accompanied by a stuffing of sausages, minced meat, chestnuts and vegetables.

Even the most gluttonous cannot resist "empanadilhas" (a variation on the famous "azevias", a popular sweet this time of year in the regions of Estremadura and the Alentejo). It's a fried pastry with a filling of sweet potato, sugar and cinnamon — once you try one, you will be begging for more !!

Another traditional Christmas dish in the Algarve is chicken stew. A rooster is chosen months in advance and fattened to be ready for this event. It is then marked as the "Christmas Rooster", receiving special care until the date of its preparation. This is a stew that is cooked slowly for many hours, so that the meat becomes so tender that it falls off the bones, resulting in a delicious dish that comforts the soul.
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