Customs and traditions
When talking to a Portuguese, it is important to
look him or her in the eye. Avoiding eye contact can be
perceived as unfair or even unreliable. It is usually
easy to converse with Portuguese, who are often
perceived to have a casual socializing style. It is
appreciated that you talk about your family or ask about
the family of others. Ask about the country and the
culture, please say something positive about Portugal.
Avoid talking about religion or money and income.
Meetings start with shaking hands with the person (s)
you meet. You also shake hands when you say goodbye.
Kind kisses (on both cheeks) occur, especially between
women who know each other well. Men can also kiss women,
but with a new acquaintance you should stick to shaking
hands. Giving a hug is considered informal.
Overview of the capital city of Portugal, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
A person is addressed with O senhor (male) / A
senhora (wife) and the surname until the person himself
says that you can use the first name. A highly educated
person is titled senhor doutor (Mr Doctor) or Senhor
doutora (Mrs Doctor) together with the surname. A woman
from the upper class is addressed to dona plus the first
name, for example dona Maria.
It is common to have a small gift at meetings, both
at work and in private. The gift is personal and should
be opened immediately when the donor looks at. Give
flowers, but not lilies or chrysanthemums that are
funeral flowers. Don't give 13 flowers either, it means
bad luck. Avoid red flowers that symbolize revolution.
A class society with a small elite
When you are invited to dinner, you should not arrive
later than a quarter of an hour. Do not sit down until
you are offered a place. Start eating when the host /
hostess says "boom appetito". The napkin is not placed
in the lap, it should be on the left side of the plate.
When you have finished eating, select it by placing the
napkin to the right. It is a good tone to hear from the
host / hostess and thank you for a dinner party or
When visiting a restaurant, the waiter usually starts
by serving small snacks or appetizers. Remember that you
have to pay if you take them off. Do not eat with the
fork alone, but use both knife and fork. One way to show
appreciation for the food is to kiss the side of your
index finger and then pull it into your ear. The service
charge is not included in the bill, so you should give
tips of about ten percent.
It is perceived as impolite to yawn in the presence
of others or to stretch. One way to say that you do not
understand or do not know is to poke your fingers under
your chin. On the other hand, if you make the same
gesture with your thumb, it means that something has
ceased to exist or has died.
The Portuguese clothing style is often casual but
still clean. It is customary to dress up a little next
door during theater or restaurant visits. In workplaces
the style of clothing is still quite conservative. In
the office, it is common for men to wear a suit and tie,
women's costume or blouse and skirt. In general, it can
be said that working life is relatively formal and that
respect for hierarchies and superiors is important.
Portugal is a class society. The rich are easier to
get good jobs and a "nice" last name is often an
advantage. There is a small political and economic elite
who rarely live far from the rest of society.
Food and eating habits
Portuguese cuisine differs in the different regions.
In the north, everyday is often served caldo verde (a
kind of spicy cabbage and potato soup) or grilled
sardines (which you can also find in the south). The
traditional bread in the north is called the bridge.
Here the young "green" wine, vinho verde, is produced.
From the north also comes the meat and vegetable soup
cozida à portuguesa, which has now quickly become a
national dish. More cheeses and fish and octopus are
eaten in the middle parts of the country. In the south,
the cold vegetable soup gas pacho is popular and is
often eaten with bread and smoked pork. From the
Alentejo in the south also comes the catfish cataplana,
which is cooked in a kind of tightly closed vessel of
the same name.
A well-known Portuguese dish is also bacalhau, salted
cod. Pastéis de bacalhau (cod croquettes) is a popular
appetizer. A popular dessert is the traditional rice
pudding arroz doce.
The Portuguese port wine is world famous. The grapes
for the strong wine are grown mainly in the upper part
of the Douro River. But even "ordinary" Portuguese wines
have become increasingly appreciated in the outside
The Portuguese often eat a small so-called
continental breakfast (o pequeno almoço) or maybe just
take uma bica, a glass of coffee with milk. The lunch is
taken around 12.30 and the dinner at 20. In the past, it
was common for men to drink a ping (a local brandy) on
their way home from work.
The traditional Christmas dinner consists of the
salted cod bacalhau, boiled potatoes, cabbage (couve)
and molho verde (a green sauce made with olive oil as a
base). On thursday evening, bolo rei (kings bread) is
served, which often has a good fortune baked.
Holidays and Holidays
The Catholic / Christian Feasts of Easter, Corpus
Christi (Feast of Christ 's Body and Blood), Assunção de
Nossa Senhora (celebrated on August 15 to pay attention
to how the Virgin Mary's body ascended to heaven after
her death), Halloween Day, Marie's Annunciation Day
(December 8) and Christmas is national holidays.
Secular national holidays are New Year's Day,
Liberation Day (April 25; celebrated since 1974 in
memory of the overthrow of the Salazar dictatorship),
May 1 (Workers Day), National Day (Portugal Day; June
10), Republic Day (October 5; the 1910 fall of monarchy)
for the restoration of independence (December 1) and the
carnival (40 days before Good Friday, usually in
Locally, many different Catholic saints and the
Virgin Mary are honored. Pilgrimages to regional
religious sites are common, as are saintly processions.
A well-known pilgrimage destination is the Basilica
Fátima in Ribatejos in northeastern Portugal where three
children should have received a message from the Virgin
Mary. Pilgrimage there is made in May and October every
Especially on holidays, you can see the Portuguese
flag in red and green (see Portugal home page in the
Country Guide). On a holiday such as National Day (or
when Portugal's national team, European winner 2016,
plays football) you can also hear the national song A
portuguesa (and it can be listened to online).
The Socialist Party forms a minority government
Prime Minister José Sócrates is appointed to the presidency by President
Cavaco Silva. After fruitless negotiations with all parties in the National
Assembly, Sócrates forms a minority government consisting of ministers only from
the Socialist Party. Thus, the government must continue to seek support from the
National Assembly in order to get its decisions through.
The Socialist Party is getting worse
The ruling Socialist Party wins the election to the National Assembly but
loses its majority. In the election campaign, the socialists promise to invest
in infrastructure projects with the aim of reducing high unemployment. Among
other things, a fast train line to Madrid will be built and Lisbon will have a
new airport. The opposition opposes these plans which they consider to be
costly. The Socialists back the election by 8 percentage points to 36.5 percent,
while the PSD goes slightly to 29 percent. CDS-PP increases by 3 percentage
points to 10.5 percent. The left bloc receives almost 10 percent of the vote,
while the CDU receives 7.5 percent. The distribution of seats will be 96 for the
Socialist Party, 78 for the PSD, 11 for the CDS-PP, 16 for the Left Bloc and 15
for the CDU. The turnout is just over 60 percent.