Magusto: a Portuguese Autumn celebration

Magusto is a popular festivity in Portugal, especially on Saint Simon’s Day (29th September), All Saint’s Day (1st November) and Saint Martin’s Day (11th November). People sing and play during these evenings celebrating the crops and the life in the countryside. Galiza (Spain) celebrates it too, and they call it “magosto”.

Groups of friends and family, especially in the countryside, get together near a fogueira (bonfire) to eat baked castanhas (chestnuts) and drink jeropiga and água-pé, two traditional Portuguese alcoholic beverages. If the first one is sweeter and more alcoholic than usual wine because we make it with aguardente (“fiery water”, a kind of young brandy), the second one isn’t so alcoholic because it’s done with water. Either the water or the fiery water are added to the residual pomace from wine making.

It is believed that the word “magusto” comes from the Latin “magnus ustus” which means “big fire”. If you are in Portugal during this period, you will find several magustos festivities where you can enjoy baked chestnuts and the traditional jeropiga and água-pé,especially in the North of Portugal, in the provinces of Trás-os-MontesMinho, Douro and Beiras.

Also in the center of Portugal, there is the traditional Feira do Castanheiro e da Castanha (The Chesnut Festivities) in the medieval village/castle of Marvão, near the border with Spain. This year, these festivities will be held on 12 and 13 November.

Show Festa do Castanheiro e da Castanha in Marvão

Show Festa do Castanheiro e da Castanha in Marvão

I was there a couple years ago and I enjoyed it very much. Besides the traditional magusto, we also enjoyed exhibitions of the traditional artisans of the region and we bought handmade, beautiful, and some of them quite delicious, regional products.

Show Festa do Castanheiro e da Castanha in Marvão

Marvão is also an unforgettable place. Located in a medieval castle conquered by our first king, Dom Afonso Henriques, between 1160 and 1166, it is very well preserved and deserves a visit for sure, as you can see in the video below:

 

Read more

5 interesting facts about Portugal
Poetry and music, a Portuguese liaison
Rites of Autumn: the Midwest in the fall

About the author

Sandra Silva
Sandra Silva has been living in the Netherlands since December 2007. Photography and travel writing are Sandra’s main activities, alongside learning Dutch and organizing a life abroad. She is a passionate lover of her country, history, photography, poetry, her cat and old photos. Main hobbies are reading and travelling.
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