Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19 concerns, many events might be canceled, postponed, or changed into limited versions, sometimes at very short notice. Please check with event organizers directly for the latest updates (view the "External Resources" section below).
Easter is one of the most important holidays for the Portuguese. As there are many devoted Catholics in the country, during Holy Week (Semana Santa) visitors can see numerous religious processions and traditions observed all around Portugal. In most villages, Easter celebrations happen in local churches. On Easter Sunday, a procession goes along the streets in every city and town, greeting people on Christ's resurrection. In some villages, you can see small processions called "compassos" going to people's homes with a figurine of Jesus, bringing joy and blessings.
Semana Santa in Braga
The most mystical processions take place in Braga, where the celebration dates back to the 4th century, and the Archbishop washes the feet of twelve people, representing the twelve apostles. The largest processions take place on Palm Sunday. It's the Procession of the Palms at St. Paul's Church and Steps Procession (“Procissão dos Passos”). Washing of feet and Mass of the institution of the Eucharist (Lord's Supper) takes place on Thursday while Friday brings in “Teofórica” and Lord's Burial's Processions. Resurrection Procession takes place on Saturday night.
Semana Santa & Easter in Loulé
One of the biggest processions in the country is the Festa da Mãe Soberana in Loulé, Algarve region. Local Easter dishes are no less worthy. Food includes folar, a sweet or savory bread that comes with a boiled egg in the middle. Codfish is usually eaten as the main course on Good Friday and Holy Saturday since meat shouldn't be consumed till Sunday.
The Easter celebrations in Portugal include many special dishes and treats. In addition to the traditional cod on Good Friday, Easter Sunday is all about the roasted lamb. Folar de Pascoa is a special Easter bread that has to be on most people’s tables. It symbolizes the bread in the Last Supper, and the resurrection of Christ. It is mainly served as a sweet dish, but in some regions it includes sausages, ham or meat. In the Algarve, the Folar reminds a cake, with several layers of melted caramel and cinnamon.