Customs and Traditions in Lisbon

The Lisboetas (the inhabitants of Lisbon) like parties, traditions and to eat. The most well-known typical Portuguese dish is Cod-fish, but another favourite is sardines. That is what the Lisboetas (and most Portuguese) eat during the national or local holidays.

Santos Populares: Saint Anthony Brides (Noivas de Santo António)
June is the month of the festas dos Santos Populares (Feast Days of the Popular Saints), not only in Lisbon but also all around Portugal and the most popular of all is the festa de Santo António! This is the time where prayers for the perfect match, for a marriage blessed by Santo António and the smell of grilled sardines and basil get together with cheerful street parades featuring a multitude of colourful ribbons and filling the air with festive music.

During the 1950’s and 60’s, the newspaper Diário Popular and local businessmen supported a Santo António tradition known as Noivas de Santo António (Santo António Brides). In the 1990's the Town Hall of Lisbon brought this tradition back to life, sponsoring each year a certain amount of couples from Lisbon that want to get married but cannot afford to pay for a wedding on their own… so the Câmara offers them a huge public wedding!

The Santo António traditions also include a game, which should be played on the eve of the day of the saint. It goes like this: fill a small bowl with water and write the names of those you would like (or you think) to be your perfect partner. Roll up the papers, put them in the bowl with the water and place it under your bed. The next day, the paper that has opened up the most will reveal the name of your perfect partner! You don't believe it?... Well, there is no harm in trying, is there?


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