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 Portuguese language can be very complex and tricky. It happens very often, sentences or phrases have a second meaning: sometimes good, others sarcastic, but most of the times naughty …
Sure they are funny and curious. It is something that makes part of us. Since kids we’re used to hear them from our parents, grandparents, neighbors, the owner of the local shop in the corner… And for that, we even don’t ask anymore where some of the expressions originally came from. It just makes all the sense to us!
Some expressions differ by region, but some are the same everywhere so everyone knows them. Although it’s difficult to transmit the idea behind the expression, and trying not to lost it during translation, we are going to leave you here some very typical and amusing Portuguese expressions!
When people come to the Algarve and ask us where they can find the best wine/vineyards in the region, our answer is: in the North.
Our country has a big wine production and it’s wide to all regions, from North to South. But the big part of wine production comes from the North, specifically from the Douro region.
Although Algarve is also a wine producer, the total of production is very low compared with other Portuguese regions, but the funny fact is that the percentage of certified wine (DOC or DOP) is higher than other parts of the country, but it’s because since there is very few wine, they can only compete with the rest of the country by being of very good quality.
Algarve once had a big fishing industry. Actually, since the early period of Time, the Ancient people who lived here (The Lusitanian – Os Lusitanos) had the tradition of fishing, being one of the most important fishing place in the Iberian Peninsula.
But with the beginning of the Discoveries Epoch (1415) and its development, the fishing industry gained an even bigger impulse and became to be the biggest industry of Algarve, not to say, from the entire Portugal.
When Prince D. Henrique (1394 – 1460), The Navigator, decided to stay and live in Lagos (and Sagres, where he actually established a Cosmography school), he had a lot of reasons to do so. He realized that this place was the best to depart with the maritime expeditions to conquer new Worlds. Not only that, he saw a chance to increase the commercial relationships with North Africa and the Mediterranean, due to Algarve’s proximity.
With all the progress of sailing and fishing technologies, the fishing tradition also expanded and became the most precious business for the Portuguese Crown.
The precious gem of that time was the tuna. The tuna had to pass by the South of Portugal to enter in the Mediterranean Sea for the spawning season, making all the coastline a perfect natural trap.
It is still possible to see nowadays some fishing activity in Algarve
The tuna was of great quality (and quantity at the begging) and there were no waste, since every part of the tuna was transformed somehow (even the inner-organs).
This was no easy task, and because of that a lot of men were needed to get the job done, becoming the way of survival for many families, the subsistence of our tough ancestors.