Holidays Around The World Blog Hop: Christmas In Portugal

Holidays Around The World Classroom Resource Blog Hop Header

You have discovered a teaching treasure if you are reading this post. Twelve of my blogging buddies are coming together to bring you the ultimate classroom resource for the holidays. After you hop to each of our blogs, you will have a collection of freebies and a wealth of information that will allow you to take your students on a holiday journey around the world. This stop on the hop is all about Christmas in Portugal.

Holidays Around the World: About the Holiday Section Header

Modern day Portuguese Christmas celebrations are similar to celebrations in the UK and USA with a few notable differences linked to the religiously-rooted origins of the holiday. Here are a few of the most celebrated traditions:


Elaborate nativity scenes (called Presépios) are displayed in churches, households, shops and restaurants during the months of December and early January. Life sized scenes are not uncommon in larger towns where people travel from miles around to catch a glimpse of these elaborate works of art. Today, families continue the tradition of displaying a Presépio in their house along with the more modern decoration of a Christmas tree.

On the way out the door to midnight mass, parents secretly add the Baby Jesus to the Presépio so he is present when the excitedly children return home in hopes he will be there. His presence in the scene signals the delivery of gifts.

Pai Natal

Pai Natal (known as Father Christmas or Santa Claus in the United States) is a more modern Portuguese Christmas icon. Children write letters to Pai Natal who lives in the cold north and has small animals that help him prepare for the delivery of gifts on his sleigh.


Traditionally, Portuguese families celebrated the delivery of gifts from the newborn Jesus. Modern day celebrations include the delivery of gifts by Pai Natal with help from the Baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. Gifts are left under the Christmas tree or, in more traditional homes, left in shoes by the fireplace and opened after returning home from Christmas mass, called “Missa do Galo” or “Mass of the Rooster.

Favorite treats like candied fruits and sweet bread were given to each member of the family in the past. Today, these treats are typically delivered as gifts to neighbors and enjoyed as desserts during the holiday season. Modern day gift giving includes a variety of clothes, toys, and tools.


This traditional meal of Bacalhau (codfish), green vegetables, and boiled potatoes, is enjoyed before heading to church.

In the center of the beautifully decorated table is a traditional round Christmas cake called “Bolo Rei” (King Cake). A fava bean is hidden within the cake along with a small trinket. Whoever finds the bean is considered the king and must bake Bolo Rei to be given to the lucky person who finds the trinket.

Holidays Around the World: Book Recommendations Section Header

I have yet to find a wealth of text written in English for elementary students about Christmas celebrations in Portugal. Therefore, I have included a nonfiction information page along with comprehension activities in my freebie Christmas In Portugal Activity Pack.

O dia louco do Pai Natal picture book cover about Christmas in Portugal

I also encourage you to add the book O Dia Louco Do Pai Natal (The Crazy Day of Father Christmas) by Dominique Curtiss to your classroom library. Due to the fact that none of my students fluently read Portuguese, I plan to introduce this in the same way I would a wordless picture book. Students will analyze the pictures carefully, make inferences about what is happening in the story, and complete the comprehension activities outlined below.

Holidays Around the World: Classroom Activities Section Header

Nonfiction Comprehension Check

Nonfiction article about Christmas in Portugal

Christmas In Portugal. You can check their reading comprehension as they complete the 7 related comprehension questions. These questions require understanding of information within the text as well as application of information to answer questions beyond the text.

Compare and Contrast

Christmas In Portugal Compare and Contrast printable
After reading about Christmas in Portugal, your students can compare and contrast the holiday traditions of families in Portugal with their own family traditions using a bubble map.

Making Inferences

Question sheet for making inferences about the book O dia louco do Pia Natal.

After reading O Dia Louco Do Pai Natal by Dominique Curtiss, have your students make inferences about the characters, setting, and plot of the story. This picture book is writing in Portuguese so you will likely have to “read” it in the same way you would a wordless picture book. Each inference question also requires your young readers to collect illustration evidence to support their inference.

Holidays Around the World: Lesson Freebie Section Header

All the activities outlined above are included in my Christmas In Portugal Activity Pack. If you plan on incorporating these activities with others you find on this Holidays Around The World Blog Hop, take a moment to download the Portugal Passport page. The passport booklet that results from collecting all twelve passport pages is a perfect way to bring together the knowledge your students can collect during your Holidays Around The World unit of study.

Christmas in Portugal Teachers Pay Teachers reading comprehension freebie.

Holidays Around the World: next destination header

You might also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

15 Responses

  1. That book looks like it is chalk full of amazing photos to share with students, even if it isn't in English! I might just need to add it to my holiday book collection!

    I love the reading passage and graphic organizers too… they will be great for teaching my students all about how people in Portugal celebrate during the holiday season!


  2. Hi Laura!

    First of all, I wish you a Happy New Year 2016 and wish you and your students to have lots of fun with reading plenty of books this year!

    I am so pleased that my book: "O dia louco do Pai Natal" pleased you and you could work with your students. This book is the first volume 1 out of the 3 ones. But the whole story is also gathered in one book: "As aventuras do Pai Natal". It has been translated into English "The adventures of santa Claus", Spanish, german and French which is my native language.

    I hope you will enjoy discovering some of my other books in the future.

    Have a nice day!

    Best regards,
    Dominique Curtiss.

    1. Dominique,
      What an honor to have you comment on this post! I am thrilled to hear it is available in English. Can you attach the link so my readers and I can locate the English edition? Thanks for your support!
      Laura Santos

I’m Laura Santos

I’ve been an elementary teacher for ten years, and love sharing tips and resources that make differentiated learning more manageable for you. Thank you for visiting.

Learn More

Looking for something specific?

Learn About

Check out these posts

inspiration in your inbox

Dropping by with weekly tips, classroom strategies, and free content created with you in mind.