natal4Every country has it’s own Christmas traditions. Some people celebrate on the 25th, some on the 24th, and some even earlier. Some countries celebrate advent and some don’t, and even advent is celebrated differently in each country that has it. There are hundreds of different Christmas traditions that billions of people worldwide take part in every year. So we thought that this festive period, it would be fun and interesting to see the difference in the Portuguese and British cultures.


Celebration day

Portugal – In Portugal, Christmas is celebrated on December the 24th. The whole family gets together to spend the evening eating and drinking, and many families attend a midnight mass.

Britain – Christmas is celebrated on December 25th in Britain. This is a day traditionally for seeing families, eating Christmas dinner, and exchanging presents.



Portugal – Named the ‘Consoada’,it is typical in Portugal to have bacalhau, often with cabbage and potatoes, and some roasted meats. There is normally a table filled with food which people eat on Christmas eve and Christmas day. Some traditional desserts include filhoses or filhós, which is made of fried pumpkin dough, rabanadas, which is a kind of french toast, and the most famous and traditional, Bolo Rei (King Cake). Bolo Rei is a cake filled with dried fruits and nuts. Traditionally there would be a small prize (like a plastic ring or small plastic toy) and a broad bean in the cake, and whoever gets the slice with the bean has to buy the cake the following year. It is ring shaped and decorated with crystallised fruits to look like a crown.

England – In England, a roast dinner is eaten on Christmas day, but it is not like a normal sunday roast that British people eat most weeks. Traditionally, roasted turkey is served with roasted potatoes and a huge variety of vegetables including brussel sprouts which is not usually eaten the rest of the year. Sometimes pigs in blankets are served, which are little sausages wrapped in bacon. As for desserts, the most traditional is Christmas cake which is a fruit cake covered in icing and often decorated with Christmas figures. Similarly, Christmas pudding is eaten in Britain again made with dried fruits. Another popular Christmas treat are mince pies, which are pastries filled with dried fruits, spices and suet.



Portugal – In Portugal, for the majority of people the presents are brought to the children by Father Christmas (Pai Natal) however some more religious families believe that the baby Jesus brings the presents for the children. The presents are left under the Christmas tree for the children to open

Britain – In Great Britain, it is Father Christmas, or Santa Claus, that brings the presents for the children. Traditionally, children would each have a stocking hung at the end of their beds or on the fireplace for Father Christmas to fill full of presents. The story says that if the children had been naughty that year, they would receive coal instead of presents in their stockings.


Church services

Portugal and Britain are very similar in that both countries have a Midnight Mass service that many people attend, although it is more popular in Portugal than Britain. In Britain churches also host Carol Services which are very popular, even with non-religious families, where people get together at the churches to hear readings from the Bible of the Christmas story, and sing carols together.


SPEAK is working hard this Christmas to ensure that we have lots of exciting new courses for you all to start in February! Keep an eye out on the SPEAK portal for new courses coming to your city soon. And don’t forget, you can sign up to be a volunteer teacher and teach your language and culture and SHARE YOUR WORLD!

Author: Zoe Ford

Zoe is an intern at SPEAK from England, who loves learning languages and dancing salsa.

Author: Zoe Ford

Zoe is an intern at SPEAK from England, who loves learning languages and dancing salsa.

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