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‘Halloween’ In Portugal


Not so long ago, Halloween (O Dia das Bruxas), as many people know it, wasn’t really something celebrated widely in Portugal, however ‘Halloween’ has actually always existed as a day of celebration in a traditional form.


‘All Saints Day’ (Dia de Todos os Santos) is celebrated on the 1st of November, which is a public holiday, and is followed by All Souls Day (Dia dos Fiéis Defuntos) on the 2nd of November, which is not a public holiday. *During a public holiday Banks, post offices and other public services are closed (this includes some museums) and public transport runs to a reduced timetable. However, large shopping centres and shops in tourist areas should be open as usual. Churches will be closed to tourists while Mass is taking place.  

This type of celebration is not so different from the Pagan celebration Samhain (summers end) pronounced as ‘sow-in’.  Samhain is a celebration which marks the end of the harvest and the beginning of the coldest half of the year and, for many people the beginning of the spiritual new year.  I myself celebrate Samhain, we cook chestnuts, light fires, and we remember fondly our human and animal friends and family who have passed, this is the time that the veil between the living world and the world of the dead is at its very thinnest. 

During All Saints and All Souls Day, cemeteries are often filled with families who leave fresh displays of flowers, light candles and clean the gravestones and resting places of their loved ones.  Traditionally in some areas, children go door to door asking for treats, often known as the Bread for God’s Sake (Pão-por-Deus), pumpkins are carved which are named after the mythical monster Coca and cinnamon sweet cakes and chestnuts are eaten.

In recent years, parties and events have started popping up in cities and towns which are more akin to the parties commonly held in America and the United Kingdom, shops have costumes and themed foods and depending on where in Portugal you live you may even find you get some trick or treater visitors!

Some words to learn through this season:

  • Halloween – Dia das Bruxas
  • All Saints Day – Dia de Todos os Santos
  • All Souls Day – Dia dos Fiéis Defuntos or Dia dos Finados (when speaking with each other people often say Dia dos Fiéis)
  • Dead – Morto
  • Church – Igreja
  • Grave – Sepultura or Túmulo
  • Pumpkin – Abóbora
  • Witch – Bruxa
  • Spider – Aranha
  • Sweets – Doces
  • Moon – Lua

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