Portugal celebrates Easter with fervour as it is the main Christian feast. It all starts on Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of the Holy Week when people more deeply remind and celebrate the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
During the Holy Week in some places all over the country there are religious processions to celebrate the Passion of Christ.
Maundy Thursday with the Mass of Lord’s Supper and the ritual of “lava-pés” (feet washing) is celebrated in all churches. Good Friday is a public holiday in Portugal and people celebrate Christ’s suffering and death on the Calvary with processions of the “Via Crúcis” (stations of the cross).
On Holy Saturday night Christians celebrate the Easter Vigil when the first resurrection mass is held because Jesus defeated death and is alive.
On Easter Sunday, mainly in towns and villages, after the resurrection mass, the priest and a parish group visit people’s homes to bring the good news of Christ’s resurrection. They carry a cross and a small bell to announce they are coming. The priest blesses the houses and says: “Jesus Christ resurrected: Alleluia, alleluia” and everybody in the house- family and friends – kiss the cross. As it is impossible to enter all the houses on Sunday, this visit continues next Monday.
In some places, on Palm Sunday godchildren offer flowers to godfathers and godmothers who give them a “Folar”, a typical Portuguese Easter cake. This is a sweet bread with one or more boiled eggs in the middle. These cakes are in all Portuguese homes, but some godchildren only receive them on Easter Sunday, together with sugar or chocolate almonds.
On Good Friday people don’t eat meat, but on Easter Sunday they cook mainly roast lamb and varied sweets. The main ones are the above referred “folares”, sugar or chocolate almonds, chocolate eggs and bunnies.