All Saints’ Day is one of those traditions loaded with ancestral symbolism, which has managed to spread to different places around the world, becoming a great celebration of recognition. It is celebrated every first of November, as an honor that is done to the deceased who have passed purgatory, have been sanctified and have gone on to enjoy eternal life in the presence of God.. In Portugal, there are several traditions that take place on this special date. From the flowers for all saints day, with which cemeteries and tombs of relatives are decorated, to the food and typical dishes of that day, the Portuguese stand out by honoring their ancestors. Join us to learn a little more about the rituals and traditions that are lived every first of November in the Portuguese land.
The most notable traditions of Portugal on All Saints’ Day
1. The decoration of the tombs
Perhaps among the most common and widespread traditions in Portuguese territory to celebrate this day, is the visit to cemeteries and the decoration of tombs. Families tend to fill the cemeteries, clean the graves and decorate them with the greatest variety of flowers.. There are some in particular that are very popular, such as the chrysanthemum, which has become the most emblematic flower of this day.
It is known as the “golden flower”, associated with the sun. For the Japanese, the chrysanthemum represents immortality. Its leaves are perfect for withstanding low temperatures, so they can remain outdoors, accompanying the decoration of tombs for a long time.
Another of the most popular floral species that is used in the decoration of tombs for All Saints’ Day is the cyclamen. It is also a perfect plant for interiors, which resists wind and low temperatures.
It is related to the meaning of the flower, this species is the perfect one to symbolize feelings of love and purity. In short, this is perhaps the most marked tradition of All Saints’ Day in Portugal.
It is not just a common visit to the cemetery, but a day to decorate the tombstones and show, through flowers and decorations, as an offering, how much we love our deceased loved ones. Generally, the flowers and decorations are usually accompanied by candles, which illuminate the path of the deceased to ascend to the kingdom of heaven.
2. The visit to the Churches
Another of the most common and popular traditions to celebrate All Saints’ Day in Portuguese territory is church attendance. And it is that, although in general terms the population of Portugal is quite religious, on this day the churches receive a greater number of visits.
Some churches are also adorned with flower arrangements. others of them They provide the service of naming the deceased, according to the order of the relatives, making dedicated masses. On a day loaded with great religious symbolism.
3. Family sharing
And although it may not sound conventional to us, at least for the rest of the days of the year, in Portugal All Saints’ Day is lived as a kind of party. In fact, together with the visit of the graves of loved ones who have passed away, the whole family or a good part of it is summoned. Part of the day’s customs involve baking cinnamon cakes, sharing wine, and eating chestnuts al fresco. The visit to the tomb then becomes a moment of union and family sharing.
4. Children’s songs
The smallest of Portuguese households also participate in the typical activities of All Saints’ Day in Portugal. In some localities of the country the tradition in which the children go playing from house to house, singing typical songs of the date and asking for cookies or the traditional bread of God. It would be a tradition similar to the singing of Christmas carols, or even Halloween, in the routine of going from door to door.
In the original version of this tradition, which has been falling into disuse over the years, the little ones carried bags made with patches of cloth or old clothes. In them, adults placed money, chestnuts or chocolates.
In short, the Portuguese people remember on All Saints’ Day, not only their deep love, recognition and respect for relatives who have already passed to another plane. Also they display the profound religious and spiritual heritage that defines them as a nationand what it contributes to its culture.