Portugal New Year

January 15th 2024 in Celebration
Portugal New Year

New Year’s is a significant event celebrated in countries worldwide, including Portugal. But what does it symbolize in Portugal, and how is it celebrated on December 31st and January 1st?

How is New Year’s Eve celebrated in Portugal?

December 31st is similar to December 24th in Portugal, as most shops tend to close early or remain shut. This is done so people can celebrate New Year’s Eve, also known as ‘Passagem de Ano’ or ‘Reveillon’. It is customary to have dinner with family; after that, people celebrate in different ways. Some prefer to stay with their family, while others go to a friend’s house or party. Some people choose to go out on the streets to watch fireworks and live music, which is generally provided by different municipalities. Another popular option is to attend a New Year’s Eve event at a restaurant or venue, which includes dinner and drinks but can be the most expensive way to celebrate.

What are the New Year’s traditions in Portugal?

As a country with a rich history and culture, Portugal has many traditions that date back many years, and New Year’s Eve is no exception. Some of the most popular ones are:

1. Wearing blue underwear: It is believed that wearing blue underwear on NYE brings good luck and harmony in the new year. In some families, offering these garments as Christmas presents is common. Another tradition in this field is wearing new clothing in general. There is also a superstition that putting fresh sheets on your bed brings love and good luck!

2. Eating 12 raisins: In Portugal, people eat 12 raisins right before midnight – one per second. As you eat them, you make wishes for the new year. This is perhaps the most popular tradition – as many people only buy raisins to eat them on NYE. The tradition started in Spain at the end of the 19th century, when people began to gather and eat raisins instead of grapes in protest against a tax imposed by the municipality on those who wanted to celebrate Kings’ Day (Dia de Reis). The tradition eventually made its way to Portugal as well.

3. Toasting with champagne: The champagne is meant to make eating the raisins easier. These champagne toasts are believed to bring vitality and health in the new year. To reinforce the excellent energy, keep the cork from the bottle and only throw it away the following year.

4. Getting into the new year on the right foot (literally): Right before midnight, you should go on top of a chair or high platform to physically step into the new year with your right foot when the clock strikes midnight!

5. Making noise with pots and pans: If you’re spending NYE at home, you should hit your pots and pans together when the clock strikes midnight to scare away all the evil spirits from the previous year.

6. Kissing someone: The “New Year’s Eve kiss” is a worldwide tradition, and Portugal is no exception! The exact origins of this tradition are unknown, but it is thought to be linked to a Roman festival at a time very close to New Year’s Eve, where everyone kissed as an act of celebration.

7. The First Swim of the Year: On New Year’s Day, hundreds of Portuguese people take to Carcavelos beach in Cascais and Vila do Conde, near Porto, to have their first swim of the year. It is believed that this experience hardens the bones and purifies the spirit!

Where To Celebrate

Lisbon

Lisbon is one of the main Portuguese destinations to visit during New Year's Eve, being the capital city. It is also one of the most popular in Europe, ranking 15th on the loveholidays list of cities to visit during this time. The main attraction is the fireworks display at Terreiro do Paço. However, the celebrations start a few days before the actual day. From December 29th until January 1st at 2 am, there will be many free concerts on the famous Praça do Comércio.

Porto

Porto, Portugal's second biggest city, is also a great destination to celebrate New Year's Eve. Similar to Lisbon, there are many private parties in different nightclubs and bars that you can attend for a price. The fireworks and concerts on Avenida dos Aliados will attract many people.

Funchal

Funchal, the capital of Madeira, is famous worldwide for its New Year's fireworks. Due to this fame, There are many options for restaurants, bars, venues, cruises, and private parties.

The Algarve region is famous and much sought after by tourists during the summer, but it is also relatively popular. All the beaches in the area organize fireworks displays and concerts, with Albufeira being one of the most popular. Faro and Portimão are also famous for their celebrations.

Braga

In Braga, New Year's Eve celebrations are concentrated in Praça da República, the city's heart. Like many Portuguese cities, Braga celebrates New Year's Eve with fireworks displays. Spectacular views of the fireworks can be seen from sites such as Bom Jesus do Monte or the Sé Cathedral due to their higher location.

No matter where you are, Pearls of Portugal wishes you the best of times. Remember to be responsible and have fun!