Merry Christmas in Portuguese & How to Ring the New Year In!

merry christmas in portuguese

Season’s Greetings everyone! – Are you looking to learn how to wish someone “Merry Christmas” in Portuguese?

All around the world, people who celebrate Christmas are getting excited, and if you’re a language lover, you might be interested in learning some new ways to wish your family members and friends a merry Christmas, or maybe how to say hello in different languages.

In this article, we will explain how to wish people a merry Christmas in Portuguese, some great Portuguese and Brazilian Christmas traditions, and some fun new Portuguese Christmas vocabulary words you can learn!

Merry Christmas in Portuguese

Let’s get straight to learning the ways how to say merry Christmas in Portuguese:

The easiest and most common way to wish someone merry Christmas in Portuguese is to say “Feliz Natal.” You can simply say “boas festas” (happy holidays), to friends or family that don’t participate in any religious holidays. But, for people in the Northern Hemisphere where it is winter over Christmas you say “Tenha ótimas férias de inverno!” (have a great winter holiday).

merry christmas in portuguese
Source: Rove.Me

Christmas Traditions in Portugal

Every country that celebrates it, has their own Christmas traditions they stick to during the festive season, let’s take a look at four Portuguese Christmas traditions:

1. Present Hunting

In Portugal, nobody buys presents until the 22nd of December. There are a few items that every Portuguese person receives every year, like meias (socks), pijamas (pajamas), chocolates (no translation needed) or canecas (mugs). These are quite ordinary presents when compared to what most Western Christmas presents, but they treasure these presents given to them by the people they love most.

2. Portuguese Festive Food

There’s one thing that will always be a part of Christmas, no matter where you are, and that’s food! In Portugal they have a few dishes that they prepare and eat during Christmas time;

  1. Bacalhau – salted codfish, is the most popular fish in Portugal. On Christmas eve, which is the main celebration in Portugal, Bacalhau is eaten with boiled potatoes, fried onions, eggs and olives. On Christmas day Peru or Turkey is usually the main dish.
  2. Bolo Rei – Christmas cake. It is a soft, brioche-style fruit cake filler and garnished with nuts, raisins and dried and candied fruits. If you don’t want the dried and candied fruits on top of the cake, you can have Bolo Rainha. A single, small broad bean is baked inside the Christmas cake, and whoever gets the slice with the broad bean inside has to bake the next year’s Bolo Rei.

3. Father Christmas

Called Pai Natal in Portuguese visits children to drop off their presents on Christmas eve (24 December) instead of on Christmas day (25 December). He looks more or less the same as he does in all other countries, with red clothes and a big white beard. However, unlike in many Western countries, milk and cookies aren’t left out for Father Christmas to snack on while he works.

Presents are usually open at midnight on Christmas Eve when everyone is together.

4. Celebration Days

Christmas eve (24th of December) is the main day of celebration in Portugal when the family gathers together to eat, drink and exchange and open presents. Christmas day (25th of December) is a day of rest, with another big family meal, but this time they eat meat instead of salted codfish. Religious families go to the missa do galo (mass) at church to celebrate the birth of Christ. 

merry christmas in portuguese
Source: Freepik

Christmas Traditions in Brazil

Brazil also has some great Christmas traditions that they stick to every year during Christmas time:

1. Gift Giving

When Brazilians celebrate Christmas it’s usually the entire family that gets involved, from immediate family to uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, and anyone else that is somehow related. As a result, gift-giving can become quite expensive and very time-consuming, but they love it. The way they approach gift giving is through amigo secreto (secret Santa) every person is responsible for buying a gift for one other person, without the other person knowing. When the time comes to exchange gifts, the gift-buyer will describe the person, until everyone guesses who it is, before giving them their gift.

2. Santa Claus

Papai Noel (Santa Claus) looks the same in Brazil as he does in many other countries, with red clothes and a thick white beard. He lives in the North Pole and comes to deliver gifts to children on Christmas eve. Some believe that he wears red silk to keep him cool in Brazil’s hot climate, but others believe he wears thick red and white robes. Gifts delivered by Santa are exchanged and opened on Christmas eve, surrounded by the entire family.

3. Celebrations

The main celebration is also Christmas eve, when the whole family comes together to eat, drink, laugh and have fun together. It is customary to wear fancy clothes to this celebration, women will style their hair and put on makeup. The celebrations continue late into the night with the climax of the night at midnight, when Christmas day has arrives. Christmas day is usually more relaxed and the main food is the leftovers from the previous day.

4. Brazilian Festive Food

Brazilian festive food is influenced by many other cultures, including Italy, Portugal, and Spain. Here are a few popular Brazilian Christmas dishes:

  1. Chester – a special variety of chicken that has been bred to contain a higher percentage of thigh and breast meat, usually served with vegetables, rice, ham, and cold potato salads.
  2. Bacalhau – salted codfish, is soaked overnight and rolled into bolinhos (balls) for frying, the result is a delicious, crunchy fish croquette.
  3. Rabanadas – Brazilian French toast, made by soaking stale bread slices in egg, milk and spices and then fried. This is eaten as dessert in Brazil on Christmas.
merry christmas in portuguese
Source: Freepik

Christmas Vocabulary in Portuguese

Just like most romance languages, the holiday vocabulary is similar. Check our some common words that you will hear during the Christmas holidays, down below!

English Word Portuguese Translation
Christmas Tree Árbol de Navidad
Presents presentes
Snow neve
Wreath guirlanda
Stockings meias de Natal
Fireplace lareira
Chimney chaminé
Snowman boneco de neve
Mistletoe visco
Christmas Natal

Get your Árbol de Navidad out of the dusty box its been in for a year, and clean your chaminé so that Papai Noel can deliver presentes to your house with ease decorate your house with visco, a guirlanda and hang the meias de Natal on the lareira. If there is neve be sure to build a big boneco de Neve, because Natal is coming!

merry christmas in portuguese
Source: Frepik

Other Holiday Greetings in Portuguese

There are many ways to say Merry Christmas in Spanish or in any language. Here are some common greetings to use in Portuguese during the holiday season, regardless if you are in Brazil or in Portuguese. 

1. Boas Festas | Happy Holidays

This phrase is more generic and includes all the events and celebrations that take place this time of the year.

  • Boas Festas, Sra. Balboa!” | Happy Holidays, Ms. Balboa!

2. Feliz Hanukkah | Happy Hanukkah

Hanukkah is an eight day Jewish festival that usually starts on the 25th day of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar. The exact dates during which this festival is observed changes each year.

  • Eu quero te desejar um feliz Hanukkah” | I want to wish you a happy Hanukkah

3. Feliz Ano Novo | Happy New Year

This is the phrase used in Portugal to wish someone a happy new year, on the 1st of January of the next year.

  • Quero desejar a você e sua família um feliz ano novo” | I want to wish you and your family a happy new year

4. Feliz Natal | Merry Christmas

This phrase is used to wish people merry Christmas on Christmas Day.

  • Desejamos-lhe um feliz natal” | We wish you a merry Christmas
merry christmas in portuguese

FAQs for Merry Christmas in Portuguese

How do you say Merry Christmas in Portuguese?

Feliz Natal!” is the phrase used in Portuguese to wish friends, family, and even strangers a merry Christmas in Portugal. If you have any friends and family who don’t observe religious holidays such as Christmas, you can simply say “Boas Festas!” which means Happy Holidays.

How do you reply to Merry Christmas in Portuguese?

E um feliz natal pra você também” translates to ‘and a merry Christmas to you too,’ this can be said as a reply when someone wishes you “Feliz Natal!

What is Christmas called in Brazil?

In Brazil Christmas is known as “Dia de festas” which translates to Feast Day, and it is celebrated on the 25th of December every year in Brazil.

merry christmas in portuguese

Feliz Natal e um Feliz Ano Novo!

It’s the festive time of year again, when everyone gets to take a bit of time off work and spend time with their family, even if you don’t observe religious holidays it’s still a wonderful time of year. We looked at quite a few unique and fascinating traditions in Portugal and Brazil, as well as some of the ways to wish your closest family and friends a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays in Portuguese.

If you’re new to language learning and you’re interested in finding out how long it takes to learn a new language, or you want to learn more about some other languages like learning how to say Merry Christmas in Italian or French, visit AmazingTalker which offers a range of articles on a wide variety of topics.

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