O Natal nos Açores – Christmas in the Azores

Natal nos Azores - Christmas in the AzoresNatal é tempo de celebrar em família, de partilhar, de renovar o amor e a paz nos nossos corações, e tudo isto acontece, muitas das vezes, através de tradições, hábitos que vão passando calorosamente de geração em geração.

Nos Açores as tradições antigas desta quadra ainda se mantêm bem vivas, sendo ditadas pelo ambiente familiar e pelos preparativos, surgindo algumas como completas novidades ao tradicional ‘Natal português’. A quadra natalícia marca o seu inicio com uma das tradições mais vivas, que é a construção do presépio – símbolo de grande importância em qualquer casa, junto ao qual mais tarde a família se reúne. Depois deste há outras decorações que se fazem como a ‘Árvore de Natal’ (com menos importância, mas presente em muitas casas), centros de mesa e outros arranjos natalícios. Há ainda quem inicie esta

Christmas in the Azores - Coroa de Advento

Coroa de Advento

quadra com a construção da ‘Coroa de Advento’, a qual é composta por quatro velas – representativas de cada domingo do advento e que se vão acendendo até ao Natal. Outro costume é o ‘triguinho do Menino Jesus’, colocando-se sementes de trigo ou ervilhaca de molho num pratinho no dia 8 ou 13 de Dezembro para que no dia 25 esteja já germinado e com folhas.

A verdadeira celebração inicia-se na noite de 24 de Dezembro com a Missa do Galo. Nesta noite as famílias visitam-se umas às outras e vão à Missa do Galo, beijando o pé do Menino no final. A ‘Consoada de Natal’ (correspondente à ceia de Natal) começa a sua preparação semanas, ou mesmo meses, antes, com o fazer de

Christmas in the Azores - Traditions

Licores

licores típicos de cada família, com receitas e técnicas antigas que vão passando de geração, e que no Natal enchem a mesa para ‘brindar’ família e amigos. Entre os mais tradicionais temos o Licor de Tangerina, de Anis, Mel, de Vinho, Maracujá, Angelicas e Aguardentes. À mesa vamos encontrar um Bolo de Natal (fugindo, nos Açores, ao tradicional Bolo Rei),

Natal nos Azores - Learn to speak Portuguese

Bolinhos de D. Amélia

bolinhos de D. Amélia, queijadas de coco, leite, feijão, caramelos, arroz doce, massa cevada, figos passados, nozes, entre outras iguarias. Alguns destes pratos são típicos do Natal, enquanto outros são tradicionais de qualquer festa açoriana. É ainda possível encontrar pratos com influência dos Estados Unidos ou Canadá trazidos pelas comunidades emigrantes. A ceia ou o almoço do dia 25 varia de casa para casa podendo conter torresmos, inhame, batata doce, bacalhau, galinha,

Natal nos Azores - Learn Portuguese

Bolo Rei

peru, ou ainda outros, não faltando pão e queijo, e tudo acompanhado com vinho.

Os festejos e as visitas às casas de familiares e amigos prolongam-se durante os dias seguintes, terminando normalmente no dia 6 de Janeiro, com a chegada dos Reis Magos.

 

Que tradições familiares tem durante a época natalícia? Um jantar de Natal especial? Um ornamento ou decoração tradicional? Adorariamos saber as suas tradições!

What family traditions do you have during the holidays? A big or specific Christmas dinner? A special ornament? We would love to hear from you in Portuguese!

Learn to Speak Portuguese or English with our Language Learning workbooks and CDsClasses also available at Maria Oliveira Language Learning Center, Pinole, California.  (Bay Area)

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Fajã de Santo Cristo

Fajã de Santo Cristo on São Jorge IslandOne of many memorable days on our recent language immersion tour of the Azores Islands took place while visiting Fajã de Santo Cristo on São Jorge island. A fajã is a flat, often sloping piece of land found along the coast and is formed by the lava flows from volcanos and debris from crumbling cliffs. São Jorge has 46 fajãs, more than any of the other eight islands.

The Fajã de Santo Cristo may be the most beautiful fajã in São Jorge, but it is certainly notFajã de Santo Cristo on São Jorge Island the easiest one to visit. After parking the car at fajã dos Cubres, there is a 9 kilometer walk, more than 5 miles, to the Fajã de Santo Cristo itself. For this reason this is an optional trip on our tours. But on this fine day everyone agreed to take the trip, and it was well worth the effort. Along the way we enjoyed fantastic views of the islands of Pico and Faial. The weather was perfect, and we hardly noticed how long a hike it was.

On arrival we were so struck with the beauty of the place that we sat for a while just taking it in. This fajã encompasses a lagoon before it curves away into the sea. Across the lagoon are a few houses belonging to local residents, a church and a small restaurant. We admired the reflections of the mountains in the lagoon, and then we decided to explore.

As we hiked around the fajã we watched the shifting views of the land and ocean, peered into an almost hidden underground cave, and decided that yes, Fajã de Santo Cristo is probably the most beautiful fajã of all. But the best was yet to come.

Fajã de Santo Cristo on São Jorge IslandBecause the tide was out we were able to see vast clumps of lapas along the shoreline. Lapas are limpets, a mollusk with a dome-like shell that clings to rocks to keep from being washed out to sea. And they are very tasty! Using a small knife we pried them off the rocks and ate them without any preparation at all! They are safe to eat raw as we can certainly attest to, and they are delicious that way, but many people grill them or make a stew of them with rice. Eating them as we did we were reminded of oysters, clams, and other shellfish that can be eaten fresh from the waters. When we had our fill of lapas we walked back to the lagoon and spent some time digging clams, which we also ate on the spot!

We eventually wandered over to the buildings we had seen and there found a pleasant restaurant to enjoy coffee and rest from the exertion of feeding ourselves. It was time to leave when we saw the clouds starting to change. Sure enough, on our hike back to the car it sprinkled on us, and somehow this was as much fun as anything else we had done that day. Wet and happily tired we climbed into the car and headed back to the main road.

Fajã de Santo Cristo on São Jorge IslandAlong the way a local rancher was guiding his herd of cows to a new pasture and he clearly didn’t care if we were in his path. Suddenly we were surrounded by cows on all sides. Surrounded first by the glorious ocean and now surrounded by a sea of cows, we laughed and decided it was the perfect end to a perfect day!

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European Portuguese

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