A Traditional Christmas in Portugal

Merry Christmas, my dear friends! Hope all of you had fun and received lots of presents :) Querido and I were blessed with a beautiful rainbow on Christmas Day itself.  It’s going to be a beautiful year ahead!IMG_3614

My festive celebrations began last Saturday at Querido’s annual Christmas dinner gathering, with his university schoolmates, in Porto. (I was “extremely controlled” when it came to taking photos as I was the only one who was doing so. Oops.) The party even had an in-house Santa, who tried hard to artificially inflate his belly with pullovers. Haha and kudos for being such a great sport! In the end, Santa decided to give Querido a bright pink bath loofah, while I received a pair of shades. Hmm, perhaps our gifts were indicative of how well we behaved in 2013? 001 collage (1)001 Collage (1)

As expected, the night ended late at around 4am.  I was so glad that we had booked a hotel within walking distance from the bars, especially since it was very chilly.  Grande Hotel de Paris (in Porto, Portugal) was great value for money.  Although it was a 3-star hotel, it was elegant in an old-fashioned manner.  Rooms were clean and well-heated, though I would have preferred a bigger toilet.  Notably, I loved how random spots in the hotel were decorated with vintage items.001 collage (1)

Thereafter, Querido and I headed for Viana to spend Christmas.  What’s really nice about Christmas in Viana is that unlike in populated cities, Christmas is not a highly-commercialised event and the folks celebrate it the traditional way :)  That said, Viana has been raining so much for the past week and it is really cold. (Still is!) Brrrr.  Hence, I’m really thankful for the good ol’ fireplace. Somehow, it is therapeutic to see the flame ignite and the wood burn.  001 collage (1)

Similar to the Chinese New Year goodies in Singapore, there are also traditional Christmas desserts in Portugal.  See collage below – sponge cakes, pumpkin pastries, “king” fruit cakes, sweet noodles and sweet bread – and most are homemade.  Just in case you’re wondering, the log cake isn’t a typical Christmas dessert in Viana.001 collage (1)

In my opinion, Christmas Eve in Portugal seemed more important than actual Christmas Day.  It was a full day of feasting on Christmas Eve!  For lunch, we had the traditional octopus with rice! (No, there was no turkey.  In fact, I did not have any turkey during Christmas!)  The octopus was huge, but the meat was tender and easily chewable. Tasty! I liked it!001 collage (1)

As for dinner, the main dish was bacalhau (dry salted cod) with boiled potatoes and vegetables.  Bacalhau is considered a delicacy in Portugal and eaten on special occasions, such as Christmas. Knowing that I have a relatively bland tastebud, Querido’s mum was very sweet and specially prepared a less salty piece of bacalhau for me :)001 collage (1)001 collage (1)

By the way, the cute little girl, Mariana, in the photos is Querido’s niece.  She is adorable and smart with a gift for music :)  I really enjoyed playing with her over Christmas!001 Collage (1)

After Christmas Eve dinner, it was time to “wait for Santa Claus” to bless us with presents!  As far as I can recall, I don’t think I ever believed that Santa Claus existed. Talk about the lack of childhood :(  In contrast, it was very heart-warming to see how all the adults took the effort to make Mariana believe in the existence of Santa Claus :)  It all began with placing our shoes under the kitchen chimney.  Thereafter, some brought Mariana to the living room to divert her attention, while others scrambled to place the presents around the shoes. Subsequently, a clinging noise was made (to mimic that of Santa coming down the chimney) before Mariana headed for the kitchen excitedly! :)  Now, I understand why it is great to be a child during Christmas – You get a truckload of presents!001 collage (1)

Actually, everyone received gifts, even the dog!  I like my necklace from Querido’s parents, a costume jewellery which looks like fabric but is in fact made from malleable silver.  Something which I foresee myself to be wearing often :)001 collage (1)

Lastly, I bet you’ll never guess what we had for our traditional Christmas Day lunch.  We had kampung chicken and rice cooked with chicken’s blood! Surprise!!!!! The Portuguese have a pretty exotic palate too! The kampung chicken was superb – moist and flavourful!  However, I had yet to acquire the taste for the rice though.  001 collage (1)

As for boxing day, I spent it in bed nursing a sore throat and fever. Must be the result of all the feasting plus bad weather. Writing this blog entry in bed took an entire day (the longest ever) as it was interrupted by naps and mental blocks. Querido proved to be the sweetest boyfriend as I had breakfast, lunch and snacks in bed :)  (I had no appetite for dinner.)  He also regularly made me the perfect drink for sore throat – Slightly warmed lemon juice (with organic lemons from the backyard) with organic honey.  No water added. My first time trying this traditional concoction – It’s an instantaneous relief for sore throats and the relief lasts for 1-2 hours per drink. Strepsils can take a backseat now! Anyway, I’m very motivated to get well soon as New Year’s Countdown is just around the corner!

Speaking of which, my next entry will probably be in 2014, so here’s wishing all of you a Happy New Year in advance! :)

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