© Pedro Menezes
© Pedro Menezes
© Câmara Municipal do Porto Santo
© Neide Paixão
© Câmara Municipal do Porto Santo
© Élvio Sousa
© Susana Fontinha
© Élvio Sousa
© Francisco Fernandes
© António Aguiar
© Susana Fontinha
© Élvio Sousa
© Pedro Menezes
© Filipe Viveiros
© Élvio Sousa
© Pedro Menezes

Christmas Season

 

The masses of the Birth that precede the great feast are a tradition of the Archipelago of Madeira and are lived intensely on the Island of Porto Santo. The nine days before Christmas, correspond to the nine months of pregnancy of the Virgin Mary, a mass is celebrated at six o’clock in the morning, and different groups of the community are in charge of the entertainment. Following the mass of the Birth, there are moments of social interaction, preceding the professional obligations which include taste tests of chicken soup, chicken sandwiches, biscuits and liquors as well as entertainment.

On Christmas Eve there is a traditional Christmas Market, where traditional Christmas delicacies are presented as well as local crafts, in a festive environment. The rich Christmas dinner characteristic of Mainland Portugal is substituted by chicken soup and chicken sandwiches, making up a simple meal that precedes the participation in Midnight Mass, celebrated at midnight from the 24th to the 25th December. This mass includes the presentation of a short Christmas play involving the community, and the traditional pilgrimages of the “shepherds”. The following day, the table presents the traditional “carne de vinho d’alhos” (pork meat in wine and garlic), fried pork meat and homemade bread, fried in the remaining fat. The traditional sweets are “rosquilhas” (ring-shaped pastry), the biscuits and the honey corn cakes, accompanied by liquors in a variety of flavours for all tastes.

Honey corn cakes Rosquilhas

The nativity, locally called “lapinha” is a sense of pride for each household. For such, furniture is normally stacked and lined with butcher paper, which has previously been retouched with Tung oil, giving it a dark brown colouring. Moss colours the nativity green, with its clay figures and paper houses and flowers which are handed down from generation to generation and spread throughout the scene; real works of art that are on display until the day of Saint Amaro.

Nativity (c) Pedro Menezes

 

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