How to make your Christmas more Portuguese in 25 easy steps

1. Spend a lot of time creating an intricate nativity set.

Go out into the wild and bring home moss, pinecones, and little stones to make not just a house, but an entire village with a bridge, a cave, some shepherds, a cow, a donkey, a star and Reis Magos riding camels. Be bold, be creative, and cover your palm trees with snow! Dare your family to attempt to get into the Guinness Book of World Records, beating out the 2013 record of 7,500 pieces. And when they decide you’ve gone nuts, just blame São Francisco de Assis. It was his idea.

2. Buy a Bolo Rei.

And place a broad bean inside it. We know it’s against the 21st-century health and safety regulations, but how are we supposed to let our guests know it’s their turn to buy the next cake?

3. Say goodbye to decorative pine tree balls and hello to chocolate figures.

In the shape of Santa Claus, pinecones and bells, tied up to the tree with a string. And to make it all more traditional, get them from Avienense just like your great-grandmother did.

4. Don’t go Christmas shopping until the very last minute.

5. Convince your mother to spend hours in the kitchen making fritos.

Or all those recipes your grandmother didn’t tell the baker about: migas doces, filhós of jerimú and abóbora-menina, rabanadas with sugar syrup, aletria, bolinhos de bolina, mexidos de leite ou vinho, sonhos, filhós do joelho, bolo torto, broas de batata doce, coscorões, carolo, empanadilhas, broas de milho, and — my favourite — potato azevias with erva doce.

6. If you’re a man, know your responsibilities.

And help your girlfriend, mother, grandmother, etc. A man should amassar a massa, punch it a little and take full responsibility for choosing drinks and liquers.

7. Allow two hours to send your holiday texts.

Until the network cannot handle the text sending traffic and breaks down.

8. Place a sapatinho by the chimney.

Not a sock. One shoe per child. If the child behaves, one or several presents might appear around midnight. Honestly, do you think your grandmother would have ever placed a sock by the fireplace?

9. Start celebrating Christmas on the 24th of December.

And make it the longest night of the year. Call it consoada, bring on the cod, cabbages, and eggs, boil it all and serve it with plenty of olive oil — Gallo, Oliveira da Serra or from the neighbours olive trees. Place your favourite Portuguese green and red wine on the table and surprise your family.

10. Remember what the doctor says…

Cuidado com as gorduras, corte no sal, reduza o acuçar e corte nas calorias,” and then make sure you have a table that screams the opposite.

11. Always build a fire.

Get the biggest cepo you can and watch it burn slowly while it warms the house and saves you from a cold, long December night.

12. Allow your children to play with that fire.

And join them in roasting pinecones.

13. Never tell your children to go to bed.

Allow them to open one — or several — presents at midnight and play until they drop.

14. Ask your children if they want to know what Menino Jesus brought them.

And if they ask what happened to Santa Claus, tell them it was made up by Coca-Cola.

15. Decorate the table with plenty of nuts.

Because hazelnuts, walnuts, chestnuts and any other sort of nut will help decrease your hangover on Christmas day.

16. Make sure you’ve invited your storyteller.

You know that annoying uncle that always tells the greatest jokes, knows the most interesting historical anecdotes and all the family gossip that no one else knows? This is the perfect time of year to let him shine.

17. Serve your cakes with Port wine.

And if your uncle’s jokes are really bad, just serve everyone another round.

18. Make roupa-velha (old clothes) for lunch on Christmas day.

19. Avoid turkey, kill a chicken.

To make your delicious chicken soup, of course.

20. But if you insist on having a turkey, do it Portuguese-style.

Stuff him with chestnut puree.

21. Repeat the Portuguese Christmas mantra often.

“Bom apetite e bom Natal!”

22. Go to the Missa do Galo.

And spend the entire hour blaming the Roman Catholic Church for making up this tradition 1,600 years ago.

23. Celebrate Christmas until Dia de Reis.

Because Christmas only finishes when the Reis Magos give baby Jesus his presents and we eat that Bolo Rei that was bought by the person the broad bean doomed.

24. Play Portuguese carols.

Leave the Silent Night CD inside the cupboard and turn the TV on for the Coro de Santo Amaro de Oeiras sing along. “A todos um bom Natal, a todos um bom Natal, Que seja um bom Natal para todos nós…”

25. Remember that Christmas is about sharing moments.

Not presents. Give simple things, like cheap useful things that you’ve made. For centuries, Christmas was about undertaking long voyages to be reunited with the small community our ancestors had grown up calling family.

Money Superstitions From 13 Countries: Will It Make You Rich?

Everybody can use some extra luck, especially when it comes to money. All around the world, people still abide by questionable laws and practices to ward off bad fortune and to attract wealth. These culturally popular delusions give people a sense of control over the unpredictability of the future. This false sense of security is what enables superstition to affect human behavior across all societies throughout history.

Some superstitions are based on pseudosciences presented to us in a believable way, some may present the cause and effect of a situation leading to more or less money, while some are so extremely far-fetched, it's hard to see the origin of how it came about to signify monetary luck. With the progression of science, many superstitious beliefs and practices are disappearing (rain dance, anyone?), but some are still very much alive in our culture.

The odds are, superstitions won't win you the lottery, but it can give you reassurance that money is coming your way, or at least that you're not drawing bad luck. Follow me as I go over some money superstitions that I learned on my travels abroad, so you can stay lucky no matter where you are in the world.

Image source: Getty Images.

Czech Republic
I first stumbled upon this superstition while I was visiting Prague. I was recommended a special fish dish that is usually served on Christmas day. Before placing the dish on the table, the server laid out a couple of fish scales on the table and explained that fish scales are traditionally placed under the plate or table cloth during Christmas dinner to bring prosperity to the person and the house, as the fish scales are believed to symbolize wealth and money for their similarities in appearance to silver coins. In fact, some Czechs carry fish scales with them at all times all throughout the year in their wallets to make sure that they never run out of money.

Like fish scales, lentils are also thought to symbolize money for it's shape, and therefore eaten on New Year's Day to bring prosperity all year long. If that's not enough for you, try breaking glass or throwing a shoe over your shoulder for some extra luck. Also, when coming across a house-spider, it's advised that you don't kill it for it is thought to bring fortune to the house.

Maybe Santa Claus had his fortune in mind when deciding to deliver all the gift before Christmas morning, because according to a Czech superstition, it is believed that you will lose prosperity if you don't give anyone a present on Christmas Eve.

China has a variety of superstitions heavily embedded in their culture, many of which pertain to money. One of them is a belief that bats bring in wealth. Due to their heightened senses, bats are thought to nest in feng shui-approved areas with exceptionally good energy, therefore Chinese take bats nesting in your home as a sign that you too will prosper. For this reason, an image of 5 bats surrounding "Shou" character in a circular pattern is symbolic of wealth. The number 8 is also popular among the Chinese. The word for good fortune and the number 8 happen to be homonyms for each other in both Mandarin and Cantonese, therefore number 8 is thought to bring affluence.

Chinese have certain rituals and practices believed to be money magnets. Keeping a dish full of spare change in your kitchen or carrying around a small amount of salt wrapped in plastic in a wallet are thought to make them prosper. Make sure to change it often, since salt is thought to lose its potency over time.

Receiving money is always considered lucky, but certain situations can mean extra luck. For example, receiving money or gifts unexpectedly, being tipped generously, or having someone repay their debt to you signifies that there is more wealth headed your way. To attract good fortune, Chinese people eat specific food such as oysters, abalones, egg roll, jujube, peanuts, pineapple and rice.

Image source: Getty Images.

The French are very serious about their bread, especially when it comes to how it's handled. According to a french superstition, you must never handle or place a loaf of bread upside-down on the table, for it is thought to being poverty and hunger to both the giver and the recipient. So the next time the baker tries to hand you a baguette the wrong way, don't grab it!

Friday the 13th is a superstitious day for many countries, but in France, it's also a day to buy lottery tickets! On this "demonic"day, the sales for Française des Jeux, the official lottery monopoly of France, is shown to increase significantly. Many people, who usually don't participate on the regular, would try their luck on this particular day because it's believed to be extra lucky. Want more luck to win that lottery? If you happen to come across a coin stamped with your birth year on it, good fortune is sure to come your way.

Did you think that the French only wear stripes? They actually wear polka dot dresses on New Year's Day out of the belief that it will to bring them prosperity and luck for the rest of the year. I wonder if the mimes trade in their stripes for polka dots on New Year's day.

Also, if your mime friend asks you for help with their moving, make sure you grab the imaginary table first before moving onto their other imaginary objects, because this will ensure that they have good fortune in their new place.

"Money attracts money" is a term like "the rich get richer." Seems unfair, right? Greeks believe that just having a coin or two in your possession will help you get good fortune. On that same note, completely emptying out your pockets, wallets, or worse, bank accounts, will bring you bad fortune.

If you're considering giving someone a wallet or a purse as a gift, which is considered good luck for Greeks, be nice and add a coin or two before giving it to them to prevent it from being completely empty from the beginning. Speaking of beginnings, newlyweds need all the financial help that they can get, which their family ensures for them by placing children, toddlers and money on the couple's new bed for fertility and prosperity.

In the ancient days, Greeks didn't know how their wells were being filled. To prevent it from going dry, they would toss coins into the wells. It seems this tradition has caught on, as people from all around the world throw coins into wells and fountains for good fortune.

We don't want you to earn a reputation of being the cheap neighbor, but make sure you don't give out any milk, sugar or money to others after the sun sets. According to Indians, this will make the goddess of wealth abandon you, and without her, you're going to become poor.

If you got on the wrong side of this goddess, you might want to impress Lakshmi, the beautiful and generous East Indian goddess of good fortune. Many Indians wear Lakshmi's footprints in form of little charms as a symbol of devotion to her giving and compassionate ways, especially when it comes to money. This footprint image can be seen painted on many objects to allow abundance to flow into their lives.

Another symbol thought to be very money lucky is an elephant. They are thought to symbolize good luck, fortune and wealth, and therefore is worn as jewelry. This superstition most likely originate from the fact that all the people who owned elephants in India were extremely rich, because elephants were expensive. Over time, it became a status symbol for them.

Lastly, Indians sagaciously believed that accidentally dropping coins from your hand will bring you money. Can't argue with that one.

When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie. that's your cue to start praying! An old Sicilian superstition has Italians chanting "Benvenuta Luna che mi porti fortuna!" (Translation: "Welcome, moon and may you bring me good fortune!") Note: you must be holding a silver coin in each hand to make it come true. Also, if you happen to see a spider at night, it means money will be coming your way.

It seems that the beginning is the most important time to set things right. For this reason, in preparation for the wedding night, both mothers of the newlywed couple sprinkle some coins between the sheets for financial good luck. Italians also eat "Otechino con lenticchie," which is a pork sausage dish served over lentils, on New Years' Eve to ensure good fortune. Lentils is symbolic of money for its green color and coin-like shape, and pork of abundance for it's rich fat content. Together in the same dish doubly guarantees that money will flow in at abundance in the coming new year.

It seems like making sure to place a coin or two in a wallet before gifting it is a common courtesy in many countries. Do it just in case, so you're not the reason someone became poor! Itchy palms is a superstition that seems to be prevalent among many different cultures as well. In Italy, it is believed that you'll get money if your left hand itches, and you'll lose money if it's your right hand.

Image source: Getty Images.

Dreams are interpreted differently in many cultures, and in Korea, dreams about a pig or a dragon is interpreted as a sign that you'll have great luck with money that day. Upon having this dream, many Koreans will go buy a lottery ticket, or even sell the dream to the highest bidder.

In some Korean restaurants, you might have noticed that the wall near the cash register is plastered with dollar bills. When a restaurant opens, people give money to be put on the walls to bring in more money and customers. Another way you can attract money is by using a red wallet, which is thought to be your lucky charm that helps money to flow into your wallet effortlessly.

Whether you are nervous, doing it out of habit, or just dancing -- don't shake your legs! Koreans believe that wealth and gold lies within your legs, therefore when you shake your legs, it is thought that you're shaking your fortune out as well. That's why some Koreans look so nervous when they see someone shaking their legs vigorously.

Koreans usually throw a huge 100th day party for their babies-and what's a party without some superstitious rituals? Money, string, and pencil is placed in front of the baby and whichever one the child picks is thought to determine their future. If your child happens to pick money, it means that they'll be rich in the future, over having a very long life (string) and studious (pencil). Many modern families are making adaptation to this traditional ritual by adding other items such as a golf ball and a microphone.

For Lithuanians, there are things you should never do to make sure that you don't become poor. One of which is not taking out the trash after 12pm. Taking out the trash can be looked at as that you're removing something from the household, therefore symbolic of taking money out of the house.

Also, make sure not to place your hat under the table, or your wallet or bag on the ground, for it means that you'll have no money in the future. If you've emptied your bottle, no matter what you do, don't place the empty bottle back on the table because it will lead to poverty.

Lithuanians also have superstitions that is thought to bring you money. The first time you see a baby, it is advised that you place money into their blanket to ensure good fortune for their future. They also place a frog at the entrance of your home to make money flow in.

Usually, it's considered an unfortunate event if a bird drops on your head, or if you step in one, but for Lithuanians, it is looked at as a sure sign that there is a lot of money headed your way. To prevent money luck from leaving you or someone else, use your left hand when receiving money, and your right hand to give money. Again, don't gift a wallet without putting a coin or two in it.

New Years' Eve dinner is an important time to be superstitious for it will determine the kind of luck and fortune that you will have for the next year. During dinner, flowers and the candles are placed at the center of the table, and red and gold colors are predominately used.

Mexicans only have one thing to consider when deciding what to wear to the dinner -- what color to wear? If you want cash to flow your way, wear yellow, which is thought to bring prosperity. They usually opt for wearing one of these colors for their underwear.

For added assurance for prosperity in the new year, put a coin in your shoes, or a ticket in your pocket. If it's a promotion you want, up on a chair or a ladder so you can be "above" everyone else at the party.

It's pretty obvious that finding money on the street is lucky, but Mexicans believe it's a sign that more money is headed your way, so make sure to pick it up.

In the Philippines, cracking an egg with two yolks in it doesn't just mean that you'll have more protein, but that you'll become rich. If you have a huge black ant population at your house or yard, it can be taken as a sign that you'll become rich. If your palm itches, it means money is coming your way, but make sure it's not an ant that fell on your palm.

Putting food on the table at midnight on New Year's Day will ensure you don't run out of food for the following year. In the Philippines, people wear clothing with polka dots, because it is believed that the circles attract wealth and fortune.

There are general superstitions, which include the following:

  • Don't sweep at night.
  • Don't pay someone back at night.
  • Always keep coins in your purse/bag but don't spend it.
  • Don't place your wallet or bag on the ground.
  • If you own a store, give a big discount to your first customers, this will ensure that you get a lot of customers all day long.

Image source: Getty Images.

Puerto Rico
Puerto Rican superstitions are derived from Latin American countries while some are very American. Similar to other countries, it is believed that putting your purse or wallet on the floor will cause you to lose money.

Wish you had more money? Try burning a cinnamon stick, as it is believed that the scent will lure money to you.

A very American superstition is the belief that having a 2 dollar bill and not using it will bring you wealth. An itchy right palm means you'll be receiving money, so don't scratch it, or you'll rub your luck out.

Also, a glass of water or an elephant is believed to remove bad energy in the house, which is preventing money from coming to you.

Good news Eeyore! It is considered better to be pessimistic, or at least silent, when speaking of one's future financial success if you want to prevent bad luck. So be humble and curb your enthusiasm until it actually happens.

Please resist whistling inside your home, because is thought to scare off the guardian angels that watch over your house. Without them, you'll have no one to protect your fortune from flowing out.

Russian superstition states that "money goes to money," therefore scattering coins in bags and cupboards around your home will supposedly attract more money, bringing you great fortune in no time. unless someone picks up these coins from your house, which would reverse the process.

If your right hand itches, you're going to get money soon or meet someone soon. If your left hand itches, you're going to give money away. If you give a purse or wallet as a gift, it must not be empty -- for this will bring poverty to the receiver.

Challenge: Sometimes, you have to earn your lucky money. If you ever go to St. Petersburg, it's likely that you'll visit the Peter and Paul Fortress. While you're crossing the bridge on your way there, try landing a ruble on a rabbit statue's feet. If successful, it means that you'll be rewarded with good fortune.

We all had those dreams where we found a treasure box only to wake up empty handed. According to Turkish superstition, you might not actually be empty handed for it is believed that holding money or gold in your hand during a dream will earn you money in real life.

Some superstitions can help solve your medical conditions while making you rich. For one, you can forget platelets and fibrins, because it is said that agate is all you need to stop bleeding AND it'll also bring you good fortune. Also, hearing echoes in your left ear is a sign of prosperity, and the echo in your other ear is a sign of good health. not that you're crazy.

You have a neighbor coming over? Make sure the Turkish cowboy leaves their rope outside before entering the house because this may disturb the prosperity of the house. If a man turns the lights on in a room, that household is thought to come across great fortune. Make sure you serve him water in a cup instead of a lid, for that would bring him bad fortune.

Does your neighbor want to borrow some yeast to make bread? You're better off inviting them over for some bread instead because your house will suffer a decline in prosperity if yeast is given to other homes. If they come over, make sure to avoid cutting the bread with a knife or drop any breadcrumbs because that will make you lose wealth.

On a brighter note, it is believed that the person will have good fortune if they break their scapula. I guess they got all the bad luck out of the way when they broke it in the first place.

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