Articles by sandra

Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts)

Pastéis de Nata are one of the most famous Portuguese pastries. Once you put your feet for the first time in Lisbon, you know you will end up at Pastéis de Belém, enjoying this egg tart pastry, sprinkled, comme il faut, with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

You also know that you should be patient because many people will be there on the waiting line. However, you know it will be worth it, not only because of the quality of the pastry, but also because you are in the place where the first globalization of the world has begun, Belém.


February 8, 2012 6 comments

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. (more…)

November 9, 2011 1 comment

Fátima: the most famous Portuguese centre of Christian pilgrimage

October is Virgin Mary’s month. In Portugal, it’s time to pay a special visit to Our Lady of Fátima sanctuary, in Cova de Iria (Leiria). There, especially on the 13, we will find Catholics from all over the world celebrating the last appearance of the Virgin Mary in October 1917.

The Three Shepherd Children

According to the Catholic Church, Nossa Senhora de Fátima (Our Lady of Fatima) appeared to three shepherd children on the 13th day of six consecutive months in 1917, starting on May,13 and ending on October,13. The three children were Lúcia Santos and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto.

Jacinta died in 1920 and Francisco in 1919. The siblings were victims of the great influenza epidemic that swept through Europe in 1918. Sister Lúcia, born in 1907, became a Carmelite nun in a monastery in Coimbra and died six years ago. (more…)

October 21, 2011 Comments disabled

Poetry and music: a Portuguese liaison

Portuguese, also called A Língua de Camões in honour of our greatest poet Luiz Vaz de Camões -author of the famous epic Os Lusíadas (The Lusiads) about the great Portuguese discoveries in the 16th century-, is a language of poets celebrated through music since medieval times.

Modern Portuguese
dates from the 16th century and has its origins in Galaico-Português, or Old Portuguese, a West Iberian Romance language spoken in the northwest area of the Iberian Peninsula. Our strong connection between poetry and music dates from the final years of the 12th century until the middle of the 14th century, when Galaico- Português was used for literary purposes in the cantigas d’ amor (male-voiced love lyric), the cantigas d’ amigo (female-voiced love lyric), and the cantigas d’ escarnho e de mal dizer (including a variety of genres from personal invective to social satire, poetic parody and literary debate). The video below is an example of a cantiga d’amigo.


August 10, 2011 2 comments

Crowns, flowers and 30 loaves: Festa dos Tabuleiros in Portugal

The Festa dos Tabuleiros (Festival of the Trays) is one of the most important celebrations in Portugal. It takes place every four years, during the months of June or July, in Tomar, the city of the Templars, located in the centre of Portugal. These celebrations are also known as the Festa do Espírito Santo (Holy Spirit Celebration). I was there for the first and only time in 2007, four months before I came to live in The Netherlands.

Streets of Tomar, decorated for the festival

The festival takes its name from the trays carried during the final procession. It originated during the rule of the Farmer King, Dom Dinis and his wife, Queen Saint Isabel. During their reign the Portuguese borders were defined with Tratado de Alcanices (1297), Portuguese language became the State official language (in 1290), the first Portuguese University was founded and agriculture, culture, the arts and poor people were well protected.


July 22, 2011 5 comments

The man who saved 30,000 refugees

On May 7, 1945 the German troops surrendered in Western Europe. It was considered the end of World War II in this part of the globe. During the Holocaust, a Portuguese consul saved 30,000 lives. His name was Aristides Sousa Mendes.

Aristides Sousa Mendes (Credits)

Aristides Sousa Mendes: the Portuguese Refugee Saviour in World War II

Aristides Sousa Mendes, a Portuguese aristocrat and diplomat, saved 30,000 refugees -12,000 of them Jews-, during World War II. Aristides was, at the time, the Portuguese consul in Bordeaux (France). Against the orders of the Portuguese cabinet’s president, António de Oliveira Salazar, Aristides decided to help those people in trouble, attending to his catholic beliefs and conscience. These were his words: “I would rather stand with God against man, than with man against God.” (more…)

June 22, 2011 5 comments