Dia de Reis Traditions

Three Wise Men, Henry Collier.jpg

Three Wise Men, Collier

Happy Dia de Reis everyone!

Original in Portuguese, Dia de Reis is known in English as Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day. Celebrated a little bit everywhere in the World, in Portugal the traditions are taken very seriously.

This day, January the 6th, officially ends the Christmas festivities. Suposly, this was the day when the Three Wiseman visited baby Jesus and offered him presents. In Portuguese, their names are Baltazar, Belchior and Gaspar.

Note: the last one, is not popular among Portuguese people anylonger… since someone called Vítor Gaspar was the Finance Minister and led the country through a rough moment! xD

Although the festivites end, we end the season, of course, with a big party. The tradition tell us to eat a Bolo Rei – or King Cake. When we were kids, this cake was baked with a fava bean inside or a small gift (usually, a porcelain miniature).

The person who would find the fava bean, would be responsible for the next year’s cake. The gift would be the lucky charm and would bring luck to the one who would find it.(But we will write about the cake in another post, in some another day!)

Is also traditional the Janeiras or Cantar os Reis (no translation); people will gather and, door to door, sing popular songs about the birth of Christ or wishing everyone a happy new year. Then, they are invited to come in people’s houses, where is offered some petiscos as sweets, some chouriço or wine…

We kindly show you a small clip:

For last, but not least, it is also traditional to eat a pommegranade.

The fruit is, since ever, a symbol of fertility because of all the seeds a single pommegranade can have. Also because of that significance, some people carry some seeds inside the wallet or purse, so money will never go short!

Teófilo Braga (1843 – 1924), a Portuguese writer once wrote and we quote:

Dia de Reis deitam-se três bagos de romã no lume para o ter aceso,

três bagos na caixa do pão e três no bolso do dinheiro para ter dinheiro e pão.

(in O Povo Português, Suas Crenças e Costumes)



In Epiphany place three pommegranade seeds in the fire to mantain it forever,

three seeds in bread box and three in the money pocket to have money and bread.


We also say Esperança é a última a morrer!, or “Hope is the last one to die!”, so let us just believe that those seeds will do miracles and bring us the luck or we might need to overpass the future obstacles in this New Year!!

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