PÁSCOA FELIZ (HAPPY EASTER)
Happy Good Friday everyone! I hope you are enjoying your extended weekend. Easter is very respected and hugely celebrated in Portugal as many Portuguese people are devoted catholics. It is a very holy week and festivities are celebrated across Portugal in towns and villages to mark the end of Lent and commemorate the passion, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Easter Sunday is celebrated with mass at church and some cities hold processions and religious rituals such as Compasso – flowers/herbs are placed to receive Compasso – priest and small group will go from house to house to bless it carrying a statue of Jesus which you may kiss. In many towns and villages Easter themes and the Passos (street altars) are filled with flowers and lights.
Traditional Easter food
Folar da Pascoa is a large traditional loaf (sweet or savoury bread) and filled with any of the following: salpicão (sausage), veal, chicken, rabbit, serrano ham and decorated with hard boiled eggs (in their shells) placed in the middle. Some folar are sweet breads prepared with cinnamon and fennel and decorated with the hard boiled eggs under the braided ‘cross’ of bread dough, again this all varies from region to region. The eggs baked in the dough of the bread represent rebirth and the resurrection of Christ. Children will visit their godparents’ house to be served the folar, an Easter delicacy which symbolises friendship, union and reconciliation. I really wanted to bake some folar but unfortunately could not purchase the yeast – they had sold out!
Cabrito (roasted goat) or lamb are popular foods eaten on Easter Sunday and usually meat is avoided during lent. Some people fast on Good Friday or Fridays during Easter or avoid meat all together. Cod fish and vegetables is a popular meal for Good Friday. Pão-de-Ló (sponge cake) is often served for dessert with cheese and port but foods vary a lot depending on region to region.
It is very common for Portuguese to offer Amêndoas at this time of year. Godparents often gift this treat to their god children. You will see a wide range for offer in local shops. Amêndoas tipo francês – classic almonds covered in sugar (usually pink, blue and white), Cláudias – chocolate almonds and Amêndoas torradas – almonds coated in caramelised sugar. Drageias de chocolate (tipo belga) are also very popular, technically, these don’t contain an almond but are very common at Easter as not everyone likes or can eat nuts due to allergies. They are made from chocolate with a sugar shell in the shape of an almond in pastel colours. I’m not sure why they are shaped like an almond if they don’t contain a nut, I suppose it’s a bit like vegetarian sausages which I’ve never really understood either – lets make it vegetarian but shape it like a meat sausage the veggies will love it and apparently they do.
Chocolate eggs and bunnies are also given as gifts. The amêndoas are delicious but brutal on your tooth fillings. I’m not eating any more as I’m concerned I won’t find a dentist during lock down! Apparently a good size stash of amêndoas can last you 5-6 weeks. I think I’m eating them all wrong as I consumed mine over 2 nights watching Netflix in bed! I think I’m just greedy. What can I say – I’m an all or nothing kind of girl.
This Easter there will be no large extended family and friends gathering around a table of food to celebrate together and no street precessions or church mass which I find very sad. I am sure families will pray together and for each other just on a smaller scale. There are also some online sermons/mass. I was really looking forward to attending our local church for mass.
Easter is a time to celebrate spring and everything that represents the rebirth of life and most important at this current time of lock down: HOPE. No matter what religion you are or faith you follow (if any), I hope each and everyone of you enjoy your adapted low key Easter celebrations with the family and loved ones that you are isolating with right now. I know I will be reflecting a lot, sending my children a virtual hug and enjoying a chocolate Easter egg or two!
Bring on the Bunnies
Easter would not be Easter without bunny photos: