Hi all! After over 2 months away from writing, I am back to it. Thank you for your support in this time away, where I needed to focus more than ever on my PhD. This will keep on being the norm, but I will try to write as regularly as possible.
My new series of posts in the blog is focused on the cultural differences between Portugal and the United States, of course from the Lisbon perspective in Portugal and the Boston perspective in the US. Even if Portugal is small, there is some cultural diversity within different cities and regions and, in the US, even in Massachusetts habits can be so different! Even more, I’m focusing on what changed for me culturally and lifestyle wise after moving to the US. I am living here for almost 18 months now, and one of the main things that changed was the way I celebrate the holidays that celebrate the country. Let’s go with FAQs over each of these days, Portugal Day and Independence Day.
Portugal Day (June 10th)
The full name of the day is “Dia de Portugal, de Camoes, e das Comunidades Portuguesas” (Portugal, Camoes and Portuguese Communities Day). This day is celebrated on June 10th because it was the day of the death of Luis Vaz de Camoes, our epic poet, in 1580. Camoes wrote “Os Lusiadas”, the epic poem about the Portuguese Discoveries (in particular, the discovery of the maritime way to India).
In Portugal, how is it celebrated? The day is celebrated with a military parade in a different Portuguese city every year, attended by the President and Prime Minister. Actually, people do not really celebrate it on the streets. June is the month of different festivities in Portugal, and June 10th is really close to June 12th and 13th, the days of St. Anthony festivities (the patron saint of Lisbon). So, people go out to attend the different “arraiais” (some sort of block party) that might already be happening in some towns or enjoy the holiday on the beach it it’s good weather, but not really special.
Here in Boston, being a city with a quite large Portuguese community, Portugal Day is celebrated in the City Hall. The Portuguese Flag is displayed there, the Portuguese National Anthem is sung, and there is some Portuguese finger food: “bifanas” (pork chops on bread), “pasteis de bacalhau” (Cod and potato cakes) and “pasteis de nata” (our delicious cream custards). I attended the ceremony in 2017, where there were as well some folk dances. This year there was a large Portuguese Festival, with plenty of musical acts, in order to welcome the Portuguese President. I couldn’t attend the festival, because I decided to celebrate it in a different way.
I decided to mix a bit the barbecue culture of the American 4th of July with Portuguese food and I prepared a Portugal Day meal for the people I live with, since they come from other cultures, and they loved it! I cooked caldo verde (a soup with a type of kale you can find in Portugal and Brazil with chorizo), codfish and chickpea salad and a giant cream custard pie. It was a lot of cooking, but it was a good opportunity to teach about the Portuguese culture and history. So, since as Portuguese we are super proud of our food, why not make a small Portugal Day party for your friends if you’re abroad? 😉 Even in you’re not Portuguese, cook them! Some recipes are so easy and I’m thinking about making a series about cooking Portuguese meals in the US that will be cheap to comply with a student budget 😉
United States Independence Day (July 4th)
The United States Independence Day was on July 4th, 1776. This was the day when the thirteen British colonies in America adopted the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. Actually, Boston had a lot to do with it, since the Boston Tea Party protest against the Tea Act of 1773, which allowed the British to sell tea in the American colonies without paying them taxes, sparked the American revolution. And here in Boston, 4th of July is actually a big deal! There is a 4th of July concert in the Charles River Esplanade, where the Boston Pops orchestra performs a variety of popular music genres, joined by guest artists, before the big fireworks on the river at 10:30pm. In these two years in Boston, I spent the fireworks in exactly the same place: the MIT Killian Court. It is also typical to have a BBQ early in the day to celebrate with hamburgers, hot dogs, and cold drinks. Last year, I attended one of the BBQs at MIT, but this year I co-organized one and I felt more engrained in the American style of celebration in this year. Here in Boston, it is also typical for people to go to Cape Cod to celebrate on the beach! In that case, you’ll see the typical “Star Spangled Banner” bathing suits and other accessories most likely. If I ever end up living again in Boston in my life after my exchange period is over, I for sure want to go to the Cape :p
I’m curious, what differences between the US and Portugal do you want me to write about next? I have a few ideas in mind, but I would love more! 🙂