The country of Portugal has many rich cultural facets in food, music and sports. Situated on the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula that it shares with Spain, Portugal’s culture was shaped by the influences from the Latin, Visigoth and Muslim cultures. Many men in Portugal go into the Atlantic to catch fish while the women are homebound doing chores like house work or cleaning the fish. The men are the bread winners while the women are the housewives who take care of the home.
The kids are free to make their own decisions outside of their home. It is mandatory for children to go to school until 6th grade but after that they are free to choose to carry on in school or help out in the working society. Even though the children have freedom outside their homes, it is within the culture for children to not leave the house until married and have their own children because of the strong family ties.
Divorce was not an option in Portugal for many years. After the revolution of 1974, divorce was finally allowed into the Portuguese culture dominated by the Roman Catholic religion. Portugal has been known to be a very homogenous society over the years with mainly one language and one religion, Portuguese and Roman Catholic respectively. The Do’s and Don’ts of the Portuguese Culture are quite simple but different from the way of life that we know here in the States.
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For example: each time you meet someone new, you take time to get to know them; do not use first names unless you know them very well, the Portuguese have a lot of respect for academic titles for doctors and engineers and are addressed accordingly; upon meeting for the first time, the Portuguese can be quite reserved and formal if they do not know you well; don’t write in red because it is considered rude; if invited to someone’s house, do bring flowers; do not stretch in public because it is also rude; tip taxis 10% on each ride and by just using common sense and smiling at all times you will not go far wrong.
The food of Portugal Varies by the region you visit. In the north, there is caldo verde and sardines. Caldo verde is a type of kale & potato soup flavored with a spicy sausage. This soup is eaten with broa, which is a grainy corn bread with thick crust. The traditional wine that goes with this food in this region would be the vinho verde. This is a young wine made from grapes that grow on arbors that often serve as property markers. In the northeastern region a popular dish is the Tras o Montes, which is fresh and cured pork used in many meals.
A stew consisted of mixed meats and vegetables called cozida a portuguesa originated in this region has become a national dish. In central Portugal Cheeses are a very important part of the meal and fish like octopus, squid and eel. And finally in the south, a soup called gazpacho with bread and smoked pork. Overall as a nation, Bacalhau, or codfish, has been the most popular fish sine the 15th century. The Bacalhau croquettes are popular appetizers and for dessert cinnamon on top of rice pudding.
Port wine which is the symbol of the city Porto, is a major export and is only used in rural households during ceremonial occasions or offered to celebrated guests. The annual killing and preserving of the pig is an important ceremony in the culture of Portugal. The event which last two days, usually occurs in late December or January. This process involves making sausage, smoking ham and salting other parts of the pig, including the stomach area. On the first day of this celebration called Sarrabulho, the noon meal consists of rice, innards and the blood of the pig.
The country of Portugal observes fourteen holidays throughout the calendar year. The major days include the following: Freedom day (25th April), day that Portugal went from a dictatorship to a democracy in 1974; Portugal day (10th June), celebrates 16th century epic poem that brought fame and fortune to Portugal; Assumption (15th August), day Mary was taken into heaven; restoration of independence (1st December), celebrates the end of the Iberian Union.
Many of their holidays fall are shared and fall on the same days as the US holidays like new years day, Good Friday, Easter, Labor Day and Christmas day. Clothing is a huge essential aspect of the culture in Portugal. The people of Portugal are very particular about their clothing attire and dressing styles. Like in many countries clothing ranges from the modern to traditional dressing patterns. The clothing industry plays a very important role in the economy of the country. The clothing ranges from the urban to the rural region.
Usually the city people are extremely well dressed. They bear the resemblance of the western influence with western pattern clothing. In the rural areas, clothing is in tune with the traditional pattern of dressing. Men’s traditional outfits include stocking caps, berets that are teamed with trousers and baggy shirts. Women wear black shawls and long dresses. Black or dark colors are usually worn for carrying out daily chores, however brightly hued clothing is usually worn on special occasions. The music of Portugal was influenced by Ancient Rome’s traditions.
The genres music include classical to popular. The history of the music can be divided into music production from the middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, and Romantic and Modern times. The music in Portugal offers a rich history and privileged geographical location which despite its European roots, reflects the intercontinental interactions with Portuguese discoveries. Despite all the rich culture in music, Portugal and more specifically the city of Lisbon is better known for the birth place of Fado.
Fado is a melancholy urban genre of music that was believed to date back to the 15th century when it was believed that women would cry for the longing of their husbands who sailed the seas. Even though Arabs left the region in the 13th century, the instruments like the Portuguese guitar have Arabic imprints that are heavily used in the singing of Fado. In the year 1939, Fado became an international popular genre with Amalia Rodrigues. A Singer and actress, she made stylistic adjustments to Fado that have made her the most influential fadista of all time.
Amalia Rodrigues revived the Fado tradition. She was followed by many new, young musicians who have contributed to the social/political revival of the music adapting and blending it with new trends. The new artists walk a fine line of adapting and carrying the old traditions while trying to bring in a new audience. Portugal takes a huge liking to the most popular sport in the world, football. Three major clubs that come out of Portugal are Sporting and Benfica both in Lisbon; and FC Porto based in Porto.
The big three as they are known in Portugal not only compete in football but also in basketball, handball, futsal and volleyball. The Portuguese national team is one of the finest in Europe and the world and it evokes tremendous passion on its people. In studies it was proven that during the days of the National team games held throughout Portugal while hosting the Euro 2004 Championships, heart attacks increased by 46% for males with cardiovascular problems. With past players like Eusebio, Figo and now Christiano Ronaldo, Portugal has produced some of the best world class players in the game.
Bullfighting is another popular sport. Unlike their Spanish compatriots, the Portuguese do not kill the bulls in the ring. The bullfighters come out usually dressed in an 18th century style coat and three-cornered hat. The horns of the bull are sheathed to protect the horse. The bullfighter, which is always on the horse, is followed by Forcados who are young men that take on the bull bare handed. And finally since Portugal is situated along the Atlantic Ocean, it is a popular destination for aquatic activities.
It has become over the years a center for the activities the long seacoast and mild climate make for popular sailing, surfboarding and scuba diving. From the early 1990’s the Portuguese entrepreneurs along with the tourist board have heavily promoted the coastline for these popular sports and have been a revelation for the economy. From it’s vast array of food, including the ever so popular Bacalhau, to it’s most cherished music in Fado; Portugal has a unique mixture of cultural brilliance that’s sets it apart from it’s neighbor Spain and, for that matter, any country in Europe.
With its pleasant climate along the coastline, it is not a surprise that they are hosts to many aquatic activities and produce a fine wine in Port. With Football being the hands down most popular sport in the country that drives the passion of the people, there is also an uprising of other sports through the big three clubs (Sporting, Benfica and Porto). Most importantly, family values and the cultures they create for the country of Portugal is still the core to most of the society who continue to live and have deep roots in their society modeled by their Catholic faith.
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