Customs and Traditions of Portugal

Customs and Traditions of Portugal

Portuguese mentality

Portugal is a country that was once a powerful kingdom and the owner of huge overseas colonies, and now has become a wonderful place for tourist recreation, with an abundance of cultural and artistic centers. The Portuguese have a peculiar national character and special Mediterranean traditions.

The inhabitants of Portugal are characterized by slowness in business. For this reason, the schedule of many events in the country is very flexible. During the “siesta” from 12.00 to 15.00, most institutions are closed, and even work phones are silent. The Portuguese dinner is quite early, so many restaurants close their work already at 21.30-22.00.

The Portuguese are characterized by calm, imposing and some dreaminess, clearly distinguishing them from their neighbors – emotional Spaniards. It is characteristic that the overwhelming majority of residents in the choice between active and passive, contemplative ones prefer the latter, and during the holidays they often stay at home.

The Portuguese are zealous and proud of the historical greatness of their country and its heroic past. They consider themselves a special nation and cannot stand when they are compared with the same Spaniards.

Also, the average Portuguese has such qualities as natural politeness and great restraint of behavior, especially in dealing with unfamiliar people. Such tact is combined with a sincerely cordial attitude towards foreigners and a willingness to help in a difficult situation.

The inhabitants of the country are quite conservative, they have a serious attitude towards the social hierarchy, respect for authorities in both the religious and family and business spheres. But they are very cheerful, love and know how to celebrate, violent festivities, processions and folk festivals are not uncommon here.

The concepts of honor and dignity are of great importance to the Portuguese. They do their best not to “lose face” in any situation. Closely related to this feature is increased attention to one’s own appearance. “Meet by clothes” – this proverb is very relevant for the Portuguese mentality.


According to Countryaah, about 10.56 million people live on the territory of Portugal, with the Azores and the island of Madeira inclusive. Since the era of the great geographical discoveries, the population has been determined by extensive emigration, which continues to this day. During the period after the Second World War, about 1 million citizens left the country.

Portugal can be considered a mono-ethnic country, 99% of the population here is one nation – the Portuguese. The remaining 1% of the population is made up of very small immigrants from Spain and Africa.

About 70% of the Portuguese inhabitants are settled in coastal areas. The vast majority of the country’s citizens live in cities. Several large cities account for many small ones (with a population of no more than 10,000 people).

The age composition of the country’s population is moving towards an increase in the proportion of the elderly (65 years and older).


The only official language of the country is Portuguese, with separate regional dialects. A tourist arriving in the country does not hurt to know some common phrases in Portuguese, this will demonstrate courtesy and respect for the nation.

The Portuguese language has a number of similarities with Spanish, but the Portuguese are very offended if they try to talk to them in Spanish. In addition to Portuguese, English is widely spoken in the country (especially in business) and Spanish is less common.


The majority of the population of Portugal (94%) are adherents of the Catholic religion. Catholics and Protestants account for only 1% of the country’s population. In cities such as Lisbon and Porto there are Jewish communities (about 200 thousand people in total). About 5% of the Portuguese prefer atheistic views.

Religious traditions and values are quite important in the national culture of the Portuguese people. So, in every city you can find a large number of various churches, temples and monasteries. Church celebrations are magnificently and solemnly celebrated throughout the country. Check agooddir for recent history of Portugal.

Behavior rules

Do not be surprised at the lateness of the Portuguese to the meeting, with a slight delay, you are not even supposed to apologize. However, the punctuality of a visitor (especially at a business meeting) commands respect.

A proper, appropriate and unhurried greeting is very important. Handshakes are a universal Portuguese greeting, they are used when communicating with men, women, and even children.

With a closer acquaintance, the greeting of the Portuguese can become warmer (the initiative for this should come from a resident of the country, and not from the guest). Men who are in close friendship hug each other when they meet, and women kiss their friend on both cheeks, first the right, then the left, once or twice.

The transition to “you” when approaching should be provoked by the owner, and subordinates are never treated like that. When addressing a Portuguese resident with whom you have not yet made a close acquaintance, it is better to use the official “señor” or “señora”. The use of titles and titles is important, for example, “doctor”, “engineer”, etc.

When going to visit the Portuguese, it does not hurt to buy a gift. A bouquet of flowers or a souvenir from the guest’s country is well suited. Gifts are supposed to be printed immediately. In the company of friends, being late for lunch by 10-20 minutes will not cause surprise or indignation. But when meeting with unfamiliar people, it is better not to allow lateness, it will be disrespectful. Shoes are not taken off at a party.

Alcohol is most often part of a social event, drinking at the suggestion of the host is considered a sign of courtesy of the guest. There are no strict rules of behavior at the table, the meal is often accompanied by a lively conversation.

In a conversation, they try to avoid topics related to family problems (especially children). It is better to talk about trade, the unification of Europe, the textile industry or just the weather. It is not supposed to openly talk about personal life and blaspheme. The Portuguese consider excessively cheerful and emotional behavior outside their friendly environment as rudeness.

National Portuguese holidays

New Year – January 1;

Good Friday – April 10;

Freedom Day – April 25;

Labor Day – May 1;

Portugal Day – June 10;

Body of Christ – June 11;

Assumption of the Virgin – August 15;

Day of the Establishment of the Republic – October 5;

All Saints Day – November 1;

Restoration of Independence Day – December 1;

Day of the Immaculate Conception – December 8;

Christmas – December 25th.

Customs and Traditions of Portugal

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