10 July 2014 by Anna Staford
Each country has its own distinct traditions and culture, and Portugal is no exception. From when it had a Monarchy many years ago, to being one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations, it’s a great place to immerse yourself culturally. If you’re planning on visiting, it’s a good idea to get to know Portuguese traditions, mentality, and national customs.
Portugal boasts a wide array of national songs, music and dances. Among the most popular folk dances are the Fandango, Corridinho, and many more. Songs and dances originally came from many regions all over Portugal but they merged to form the versions we see today.
Portuguese national clothes are notable for the bright and vivid colours. Traditional Portuguese is made up of bouffant skirts made from saia (chequered or striped fabrics) for women, and calsas, short leggings, sombreros, and waistcoats for men. Women also sometimes wear a kerchief, but this has a lot of variety depending on which region you’re in.
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The majority of Portuguese people are Catholic and this can be seen with several Catholic celebrations, holidays and special occasions. Pilgrimages to holy sites and observance of Saints are common, and during feast days images or statues of Saints are paraded in the streets. You’ll also see carnivals where stories from the Bible are acted out and practically every major city has several cathedrals and churches.
The traditional Portuguese lifestyle is laid-back and calm. A good example of this is the siesta. Siesta hours are between 12pm-3pm so don’t be surprised if you find the shops closed in this time because it’s their opportunity to take a break from the heat and sun.
Every region in Portugal has its own unique dish and cuisine, with fresh fish, seafood and meat among the most popular. You’ll also find traditional meals like Cozido à Portuguesa (Portuguese stew) and Bacalhau (dried and salted cod) everywhere. Beer is also popular in Portugal - Ginjinha, Licor Beirão and Sagres among the best known brands.
Portugal has also been known for its wine since Roman times and today their wines are considered among the finest in the world. If you’re going to visit, be sure to try out the Moscatel of Favaios, Muscatel of Setúbal, the Madeira wine and Vinho do Porto. Given the popularity of wine, it’s hardly surprising that grapes are regarded as a symbol of comfort and prosperity.
Before you pack your bags, make sure you have the appropriate travel insurance so you can come to Portugal and eat, drink and be merry with complete peace of mind.