All Saints Day and Halloween In Portugal
All Saints Day and Halloween are two very different concepts in Portugal. It wasn’t so long ago when Portugal rarely celebrated Halloween, but over time, they’ve adopted the modern culture of spending time during Halloween by celebrating parties and special events, especially in Major cities such as Lisbon and Porto. All Saints day, on the other hand, is the concept of honouring the dead on November 1st.
With Halloween, Portugal celebrates it very similar to those within the UK and America in that children would go around door-to-door asking people for sweet and treats as part of the tradition of trick-or-treating. Interestingly, there are in some parts of Portugal for children to go to the doors asking for bread. In Portuguese, trick-or-treating has different names such as ‘Dia do Bolinho’, ‘santorinho’, ‘bolinho’, or ‘fiéis de Deus’. As well as sweets, children can expect to receive cakes, chestnuts and fruit biscuits.
They also do the standard pumpkin carving which is quite a popular tradition for Halloween in Portugal, especially in parts of Portugal such as Beira. The pumpkins are named after the mythical monster Coca.
The festivals that celebrate Halloween in and around Portugal are similar to those where the traditions and beliefs derive from other Celtic countries. For example, Cideos is home to the Festa da Cabra festival which parades traditional dancing and displays different characters in fancy dress.
For all the tradition that Halloween can bring, there’s still a different way in which Halloween is celebrated in Portugal. Mainly because it’s celebrated in different regions that are extremely spread out. However, on November the 1st, one tradition that is evident is All Saints Day.
All Saints Day and Halloween are celebrated on entirely different scales, simply because All Saint’s Day is an opportunity to clean relatives’ cemetery graves and plots. It’s an extremely important day in the Portuguese calendar where cemeteries will be filled with local residents who aim to make their relatives’ resting places look squeaky clean. They use bleach in order to make the resting places spotless and the smell can be noticed from quite a distance away.
During the cleanup, it’s popular to find flower vendors selling flower heads for anyone looking to refresh the plants for the graves. They also offer traditional Portuguese snacks for the volunteers who are present at the cemetery. This is all happening whilst some services are taking place around the graveyards.
Although Halloween isn’t highly regarded in the whole of Portugal, you’ll be sure to find All Saints Day is celebrated throughout the whole of Portugal, with local communities all coming together and rejoicing in making sure their loved ones are resting peacefully after passing.