10+ Facts About Portugal That Make Us Think It’s a Different Planet

year ago

Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe. When we hear about it, we instantly get associations with works of architecture drenched in the sun along with a majestic ocean. The culture of the local people who have been shaped by many centuries also evokes a desire to know more about it. Like, for example, to learn what the feeling “saudade” is all about and why local people love sweets from yolks so much.

We at Bright Side found out new facts about colorful Portugal and even took a fantasy trip there as we prepared this article.

Portuguese people occasionally feel “saudade.”

The word “saudade” doesn’t have an exact translation in any language. But despite that, it plays an important role in the culture here and lets us understand the melancholic soul of a Portuguese person. Oftentimes, this term is connected with the word “nostalgia,” but it’s not the same thing. Saudade means “a pleasure you suffer, an ailment you enjoy.” It can refer to a person, a place, an object, or a situation that someone misses. It can even refer to something that doesn’t and cannot exist in real life. It can also be a sense of incompleteness.

It is assumed that this word first appeared during the epoch of the great geographical discoveries when sailors would set sail driven by this feeling.

They have dinner no earlier than 8 PM.

Portuguese people like to eat late. The last meal of the day takes place between 8 PM and 10 PM. Even restaurants only open at this time, at 7 PM. The first hour they’re open, they’re normally empty.
Locals have breakfast at 8 AM, lunch at about 1 PM, and enjoy snacks during the day.

Most parts of local desserts are made of yolks.

There is a huge variety of desserts made of egg yolks in Portugal. Yolks are added to dough, stuffing, and are even eaten candied as a separate dish.

At one time, egg whites were widely used for household purposes, such as filtration. Whites were added to drinks and they merged with unnecessary particles and settled to the bottom. It was too expensive for nuns, monks, and friars to ditch the unused yolks, and that’s why they came up with numerous recipes featuring this unique ingredient.

Locals get annoyed when anyone eats on the go.

Local people can often feel insulted seeing a walking person consuming food on the go. Having meals here is a sacred ritual, and dishes should be eaten in a seated position, slowly. Of course, street counters with fast food are around, but it’s customary to find a cozy place to eat the products bought there. Consuming food on the go is considered a sign of bad manners in Portugal.

This country is believed to have the most beautiful McDonald’s restaurant.

According to travelers, the most beautiful restaurant of the most popular fast-food chain in the world is in Porto. It’s located in an old building with an interior featuring preserved art-deco elements, like crystal chandeliers, bas-reliefs, and colorful stained-glass windows made by talented artists. Local people call it the “imperial McDonald’s.”

It’s easy to slip on a banana peel on Christmas Eve because everyone is eating bananas.

On December 24, thousands of people gather in the Portuguese city of Braga to pay tribute to the tradition called “Bananeiro.” At this time, several hours before Christmas family dinner, residents and guests of the city celebrate the start of the holiday by eating a banana and washing it down with a drink.

The state helps give names to newborns.

The country has lists of permitted and prohibited names that have been approved at the legislative level. The first list includes Portuguese names, as they help the country to retain its identity. The list of prohibited names has a range of names from popular cultures, such as Ben-Hur, Nirvana, and Hendrix.

If parents decided to name their baby, ignoring the list of allowed names, the state authorities have to give the green light. However, there are reasons for refusal as well — those can be names that don’t sound like they’re from Portugal or don’t correspond to the gender of the baby, and that puts the person in a bad situation.

Both parents take a baby care leave.

Apart from maternal leave, Portugal also has a compulsory paternal leave for 20 days. A father should use this leave within the first 6 weeks of the baby’s life, either all at once or in parts. At the same time, a new father must take 5 days of vacation immediately after the birth of the baby, according to the law.

It’s customary to give presents to employees without reason.

In Portugal, a gift to a colleague or partner is not considered a bribe, but a sign of respect. They are usually done at the beginning of business meetings. Books, drinks, ties, and scarves can all serve as appropriate presents. Refusing a gift is a sign of bad manners.

It’s also undesirable to give something back that you’ve received. All you need to do is send a thank you letter after leaving the meeting. Also, Portuguese companies give presents to their clients.

Toilet paper is not the most popular hygiene product.

Many people in Portugal don’t use toilet paper at home. Apparently, it’s considered unjustified waste in comparison to a bidet. The installation of bidets in bathrooms has been mandatory since 1975, even though a popular company, Renova, produces colorful toilet paper for export here.

It’s forbidden to use the ocean as a toilet in Portugal.

There’s an official ban in Portugal that often finds its way into various lists of weird laws in Europe. One can’t pee in the ocean here, otherwise, they can be arrested. Of course, it’s quite unlikely that this action would be approved of in any other country, but the main question is: how are the violators caught red-handed?

What new things have you learned about this country? Have you ever been there? Can you tell us other interesting things about it?

Please note: This article was updated in February 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
Preview photo credit Depositphotos.com


I guess in the beginning of lockdown people in Portugal didn't empty shelves with toilet paper like people from other countries did 😅

Related Reads