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All Saints Day in Portugal

On November 1 of every year the people of Portugal celebrate the Feast of All Saints. Known also as All Saints Day, the holiday is designated by the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches as a day to commemorate all of the saints. It was initially celebrated in May but in many Western countries All Saints Day was moved to November 1 to counteract the pagan holiday of Halloween. Since the traditional Portuguese Halloween (dia das bruxas) is celebrated in May, in Portugal All Saints Day is a holiday that stands on its own. It's a national holiday, a day to celebrate with a traditional festival, called a festa.

All saints day

In many Western European countries people bring offerings such as flowers to the graves of relatives.

Ways to celebrate All Saints Day in Portugal:

1. Join one of the many national processions, during which the faithful proceed to local cemeteries. There they will place offerings of flowers on the graves of deceased relatives. In some villages in Portugal, people will carry small lights through the streets on the way to the grave sites. Once there it's not uncommon for relatives to stay most of the day "visiting" with their dead.

2. Attend one of many liturgies, or Masses, said for the souls of the deceased. Some priests will offer Mass in the local burial grounds and churches often have up to three Masses on All Saints Day. In addition to the churches of local villages there are many historic churches in Portugal. In Braga you can visit the ancient Roman Cathedral, considered to be a center of the Roman Catholic church, while Porto is host to the Church of São Francisco famous for its Portuguese gilt work.

3. Partake of traditional foods at open air feasts. In ancient times, it was customary to have banquets at the graves of the deceased. Today in Portugal wine and chestnuts are served at the open air feasts called magustos.

4. Provide children with sugar cakes known as bolas de festa. On All Saints Day, singing children go from door to door and are often given this "bread of God" seasoned with cinnamon and herbs. Other treats include apples, nuts and sweet nut cakes.

5. Witness equestrian games, parades and exhibitions of bullfighting at the annual Feira de Sao Martinho, a horse fair and festival held on All Saints Day. It's known as the most important horse fair in Portugal and is attended by many breeders.

Related links

Public holidays in Portugal

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