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Halloween in Portugal: Is it Celebrated?

Halloween has truly evolved into a global celebration of all things spooky and supernatural. And, of course, Portugal, a country steeped in history and culture, has embraced this typical American holiday with its own unique twist, calling it “Dia das Bruxas”. In this article, we will delve into the tradition of Halloween in Portugal, exploring its origins, customs, and the modern ways in which it is celebrated.

Frederik
Frederik Pohl, CEO
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Historical Roots of Halloween in Portugal

Portugal has a rich history that dates back thousands of years, and its traditions are deeply intertwined with the Celtic, Roman, and Christian influences that have shaped the country over the centuries. Halloween, while not traditionally Portuguese, has found its place in the hearts of the Portuguese people in recent years – especially the younger demographic.

The Celtic festival of Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, is often considered the precursor to Halloween. Like many Celtic regions, Portugal has adopted some elements of Samhain in its Halloween celebrations. However, it is essential to recognize that Halloween in Portugal is not just an import of American culture; it is a blend of various traditions.

halloween portugal

How is Halloween celebrated in Portugal?

Costume Parties

One of the most prominent aspects of Halloween in Portugal is the tradition of dressing up in costumes. Just like in the United States and other Western countries, Portuguese people of all ages eagerly embrace the opportunity to become witches, vampires, zombies, or other eerie creatures. Dressing up as characters from TV shows or movies is also becoming increasingly popular – an import from the US and social media. Costume parties, both at home and in public venues, are a common sight in major Portuguese cities!

Trick-or-Treating

Trick-or-treating has gained popularity in Portugal, especially among children. Kids and teenagers dress up in spooky costumes and go door-to-door in their neighborhoods, chanting “Doçura ou travessura” (Sweet or trick). While it’s not as widespread as in North America, it’s a fun way for kids to collect candies and treats! The ‘travessuras’ (tricks) usually include throwing toilet paper inside the houses or constantly ringing the doorbell for those who don’t answer.

Haunted Houses and Attractions

In recent years, Portugal has seen a rise in haunted houses and spooky attractions during the Halloween season. These interactive experiences allow thrill-seekers to immerse themselves in frightening scenarios, making for a spine-tingling adventure. These are some of our suggestions:

Pumpkin Carving

Carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns is a beloved Halloween tradition in Portugal. Families sometimes gather to create intricate and spooky designs on their pumpkins – but it’s an activity that’s most common in schools and kindergarten. The glow of jack-o’-lanterns adds a haunting ambiance to homes and streets.

Themed Parties and Events

Bars, restaurants, and clubs in Portugal frequently host Halloween-themed events. These parties offer a chance for adults to enjoy the festivities with themed cocktails, live music, and costume contests. Some popular themed parties on Halloween 2023 are:

Traditional Portuguese Influences on Halloween

Some regions of Portugal incorporate elements from local folklore and legends into their Halloween celebrations. For example, the legend of the ‘lobisomem’ (werewolf) is occasionally featured in costume parties or decorations, just like the ‘duende’ – a small creature that lures kids into forests -, blending the supernatural with Portuguese tradition.

The significance of November 1st (All Saints Day) in Portugal

Even though Halloween is not that big of a celebration in Portugal, the Portuguese are very lucky, since November 1st – All Saints Day – is a national holiday in the country! But it is not just a day for relaxing after Halloween, it’s a date filled with significance in Portugal.

All Saints Day traditions in Portugal

As you probably know, November 1st is an international and intercultural holiday. In Portugal, the day celebrates all Catholic Saints – both the known and the unknown. It’s a big tradition for people to go to cemeteries to visit their deceased loved ones and leave fresh flowers on their graves. Special missas (church service or mass) also take place. 

Halloween in Portugal? Yes!

In conclusion – yes, Halloween is definitely celebrated in Portugal, although in a complete different capacity than in the US and UK. Nevertheless, it is a delightful fusion of ancient customs and contemporary festivities! The Portuguese have embraced Halloween with enthusiasm, blending our unique cultural influences with the eerie charm of the holiday. Make sure to celebrate and wear your best spooky costume!

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