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Christmas presents

PRESENTS are not exactly what we may call a Christmas symbol, but they are no doubt part of the traditional stuff of this season of the year. Can you imagine Christmas without presents? No way! During this happy season we all look forward to being offered something - though tiny it may be - from family members and friends.

It's wonderful receiving presents, isn't it? But for that you should behave well during the whole year round! We should deserve what we receive.

Christmas star

The use of STARS for decorating the Christmas tree is mainly linked to the giant star that guided the three Wise men (Magi) from the East to Bethlehem where the Baby Jesus was born.

Christmas colours

Christmas traditional COLOURS are green, red and gold; they are used for candles, lights, garlands... Yellow was chosen for the symbolic star that guided the three Magi until the Baby Jesus; no wonder, yellow is also the symbolic colour for the Sun. Nowadays there is a tendency also for blue, most probably due to Danish Christmas influence.

Missa do Galo

The tradition of CHRISTMAS MASS is common to all catholic countries. It is celebrated on the night from December 24 to 25 because it is popular belief that Jesus was born at midnight, though nobody really knows the exact day, even less the exact hour when that event took place.

In Portugal, the Christmas Mass is known as the "Rooster's Mass" because it's popular belief that the only time a rooster ever sang at midnight was when Jesus was born and it was charged with giving the good news to the other animals. Anyway, the rooster is always the first animal to sing at sunrise.

Meias na chaminé

HANGING STOCKINGS or leaving an empty shoe by the fireplace is a tradition that originated from one of the very many stories about Saint Nicholas: the three young girls of Patara. This story is not a legend. We know it really happened, and it explains somehow the reason why the bishop of Myra is considered to be the patron saint of young people.

We for sure find a connection between the bags of gold the father of the three young girls found under the window or, according to another version, Saint Nicholas dropped down the chimney, and the gifts wise children find in the shoe or the stocking they left by the fireplace for Santa to fill with small PRESENTS on Christmas Eve, on December 6 or January 6, according to the country.

Coroa de Natal

Today, Christmas decorations include WREATHS made with evergreen plants, colour ribbons and other ornaments, like silver or golden pinecones and Christmas flowers like the poinsettia. The tradition of the wreath dates back to Roman times, when offering a wreath made with a green plant to someone was a way of wishing good health to that person.


Because of its green leaves and red berries, HOLLY is the traditional plant of this season of the year: green is the colour of its leaves; red is the colour of its berries.

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    All Texts and Illustrations © Dulce Rodrigues, 2017. All rights reserved