Christmas is here! What is the Consoada? It is the Christmas Eve Dinner. The name consoada stems from the latin word “consolata” which means “conforted”. In the old days people spent the 24th of December in church praying and fasting and after the “Missa do Galo” (mass of the rooster – Midnight Mass) they would gather at home and would eat a light meal consisting of fish – therefore they would be comforted after a day of fasting. With time the fasting was abolished, but many families still gather together and traditionally eat poached cod-fish (bacalhau), with potatoes, eggs and broccoli rabe or Portuguese kale, followed by traditional sweets which differ from Province to Province.
These are some of the typical Christmas desserts:
Angel Hair pudding (typically eaten in the North of Portugal)
My grandmother made the best!
Some have pumpkin and some just eggs, flour and sugar.
A Portuguese version of French toast – deep fried and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon – another one of my grandma’s specialties.
Broas Castelares are made with cooked sweet potatoes, shredded almond and corn flour.
Bolo Rei – (King’s Cake) it is a sweet bread with fruits and nuts inside and decorated with fruits (representing the jewels of the crown of the Kings). Traditionally you only eat this cake during the Christmas Season – last day available in coffee shops used to be January 6th, which marks the end of the season.
After eating this late light meal the table is left as is and the dishes are traditionally not done – in respect to the dead family members that may join in later and eat the leftovers or waiting for baby Jesus.
The tradition in Portugal is to give out the Christmas gifts after this Consoada meal, however many people (mainly in the bigger cities) now give out Christmas gifts in the morning of the 25th of December in honor of baby Jesus (Menino Jesus)
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not and whether you give out your gifts on the 24th, 6th (St Nicholas) or the 25th I wish you all peaceful and happy Holidays!