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Pure Portugal’s 10 Days Of Christmas

For the last 10 Days in the lead up to Christmas Day we decided it would be fun to make a Pure Portugal – Ten Days Of Christmas List which we posted on out Facebook page Pure Portugal Living The Good Life each day was a letter leading us to spellin out the words FELIZ NATAL (Happy Christmas)

Here it is again in full.

F – Fogueiras de Natal – Christmas Fires – Whether it’s a cozy fire indoors or a big campfire outdoors, most of us love the glow of a fire at Christmas time…but… if there is one type that is well worth a view, it is the Madeiro fires, famed in Central Portugal. The largest and most notable is the Vila Madeiro Penamacor which is a true sight to behold! But there are many other smaller ones in smaller towns and villages surrounding Penamacor you can go and see too.

E –  Estrela – Star – A star on top of the Christmas tree in many cultures is common,  however, in Portugal thanks to the lack of light pollution and dark skies, real stars are visible in abundance too. The highest mountain range in Portugal is even called The Serra de Estrela Mountains (The Star Mountains) an opportunity for star spotting like you’ve never experienced before!

(Above: The Milky Way over the Serra de Estrela Mountains – credit João Pedro Jesus)

L – Lagar – Mill/Press – This time of year is known for the olive oil coming back from the olive press. All of the hard work of picking has paid off and people have many litres of liquid gold to last until next year. A huge press can be found in Idanha a Velha and was built in the early 20th century, you can visit the tourist centre and see the press up close, while you’re there can also take a walk around the village and get up close to some amazing Roman Ruins! (Idanha a Velha was once the capital of Iberia!)

(Above: Huge olive press at Idanha a Velha)

I – Igreja – Church – Midnight mass on Christmas Eve is attended heavily in Portugal and is one of the most important nights of the year to many people. Portugal has some of the most stunning churches, one of the many beautiful examples is the famous Santo Ildefonso built in the 17th century in Porto

Z – Zero Graus – Zero Degrees! – Okay… yes, Portugal is warm and sunny more than it’s not, but in winter the weather really does get festive!! You often have to go ‘up’ to get the really cold weather but as you can see here in this photo, when you do, you find some seriously impressive icicles!

 (Above: Icicles high up in the Sera da Estrela Mountains – credit Cátia Lima)

 

N – Neve – Snow – Most people don’t think of snow and Portugal at the same time, but in winter the Serra de Estrela Mountains really do have some impressive snow! You can even ski and toboggan up there at the dedicated ski slope which has several slopes (they also have an amazing cafe looking over the slopes if you prefer to just be a spectator!)

A – Aldeais de Natal – Christmas Villages – Every Christmas these pop up all over Portugal and seem to get more and more imaginative each year. One of the most popular (deservedly so) is Obidos Vila Natal which has ice skating, fairground rides, ice slide, trampolines, face painting, Santa’s house and much, more. Open until 31st December 2017. Whichever one you go to you’re sure to feel totally in the Christmas spirit by the time you leave!

(Above: Christmas village – Obidos)

T – Termas – Thermal Springs – What more can you need than the chance to warm yourself up in one of Portugal’s many beautiful thermal spas. You leave feeling like you’ve had a day on a sunny beach (especially if you got a few bruises from the ski slope mentioned above!) There are lots to choose from dotted all over the country. More info on locations and how to visit on this link

A – Avore de Natal – Christmas Tree – Portugal isn’t short of Christmas trees during the festive period, you’ll often find them even in much smaller towns and villages through Portugal adorned with lights. One of the most famous in Portugal is of course in Lisbon, which boasts the largest Christmas Tree in Portugal, the height varies each year but it’s been at big as 76 metres tall!

(Above: Lisbon Christmas tree with its many lights! Credit Fiona Rose Cassidy)

L – Luzes – Lights – So we leave you with our tenth and final letter. Portugal is definitely not shy when it comes lights at Christmas! We also can look ahead to light of a different kind, in the form of lighter nights as the weeks roll into 2018!

 

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