Christmas Eve shopping

Before Christmas this year, I let our son “buy” one of the gifts I’d gotten for my wife, because he didn’t have the slightest idea what to get her (nor any inclination to go out shopping, not that I can blame him for that). This left me a gift short just before the holiday, so I headed out of the house at around six in the evening on Christmas Eve to pick up one last thing.

I’m an American. We think Christmas Eve is a an extra-long shopping day, not an actual holiday. It’s the day many people get most, if not all, of their shopping done. (Those who finish everything by Thanksgiving are mutants and will not be considered here.)

So I expected something like this:

Xmas shoppers

You can tell by this admission that I’ve never ventured out on Christmas Eve in Portugal before.

I should have known better, though. I’ve lived here long enough to know that the Portuguese see Christmas Eve as a holiday in its own right. They even give the day its own unique name — Consoada — which should be a clue. Many do the big family dinner and gift-opening event that night, while Christmas Day is spent relaxing, eating leftovers, and playing with gifts.

So when I arrived in downtown Loulé, it looked something like this:

Empty streets

Needless to say, my shopping excursion was a total failure. I called my wife as I walked home through the deserted streets and said, “So I went out to get a last gift for you, but apparently the Portuguese spend Christmas Eve with their families like civilized people.”

My wife, whose family has always celebrated on Consoada, had a good laugh and told me to come home. And so, like many of the Portuguese, we celebrated on Christmas Eve…one gift short but with love to spare.

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About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
This entry was posted in culture, Portugal. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Christmas Eve shopping

  1. James Haney says:

    Certainly an interesting change, and perhaps something the U.S. could probably learn from.

  2. M. says:

    Yes, we celebrate Christmas Eve the same way in Poland. Although it is a workday, shops are closed early and people work not as long as usually. This year our boss told that women do not have to come to work at all, because traditionally they prepare Christmas Eve dinner (Wigilia).
    And Happy New Year! (New Year’s Eve has it’s own name too:))

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