New Year’s Eve in Lisbon with Santa and the Rooster!

The Portuguese rooster and Santa Claus got together in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. It's just before midnight on the Augusta Street Arch clock. The new year is coming. They are in a hurry as they have already opened the bottle of champagne and are making toast on the famous Rua Augusta. If you are fond of the famous Portuguese Rooster these Christmas gifts are for you. But you can offer it to a Portuguese relative or friend, a friendly neighbor, or work colleague, or any special Portuguese

What is there to do in Lisbon on New Year's Eve? Many use the french Le Réveillon, but fewer people will say that it's the night of São Silvestre. It's the last night of the year. According to Portuguese folklore, this celebration is linked to a popular legend that gave this night the name of São Silvestre Night.

You may have read about Atlantida, an island that stood where the Mediterranean ended and the Atlantic began, among other possibilities, a mystery that even in Antiquity was not taken seriously, but it feeds our imagination to this day. Long ago the warriors of Atlantis were defeated by the warriors of Athens. Plato referred to this naval power that conquered part of Europe, but which, when trying to conquer Athens, failed. Earthquakes and a tsunami, or maybe a comet hit, and the kingdom of Atlantis was swallowed by the waters of the ocean.

Time advanced even further and centuries after the death of Jesus Christ, his Mother, the Virgin Mary, was looking at the Atlantic Ocean from above the sky when a saint passed by and asked her what was holding her attention. It was the night of São Silvestre, the last of the year, dedicated to him. In the opinion of São Silvestre, this night should have a greater meaning for men, maybe one able to invite men to repent of the mistakes of the past and renew hope for the future. The Mother of God had been thinking about the lost island of Atlantis, how God brought Atlantis to an end and thus punished mortals for the sins committed. The tragedy should be a warning to all men. She was sad as men learned nothing and persisted in their mistakes. The Mother of God weeps at the thought of all this and her tears are pearls that fall into the ocean, one in the place where the island of Atlantis once was. It grew and grew and São Silvestre called it The Pearl of the Atlantic, that is, the island of Madeira. At the same time, beautiful lights appeared in the sky. This legend would have motivated the launching of fireworks on New Year's Eve.

If you happen to be in Lisbon on New Year’s Eve, well, you'll have plenty of choices to make it memorable. Some people like to have a festive dinner that takes place over several hours, pausing at midnight to ring in the New Year. Some will stay inside a good restaurant, which is understandable as the food is good, the wine is good, the people are good-natured and friendly, and time will fly. 

Others will prefer to go outside, to the downtown area, as soon as they can and mingle with the crowds at Praça do Comércio (Terreiro do Paço) or Belém (near the Belém Tower) to enjoy the live music and the midnight fireworks. But you can go uptown if you prefer, check for viewpoints to see the fireworks show, or climb to Castelo de São Jorge, one of the highest places in the city, I think it's open up to the public on this last day of the year.

The biggest and most popular street party and fireworks display take place at Praça do Comércio (Terreiro do Paço) which is the big square in the center of Lisbon right next to Tejo river. The live music that starts early probably will be in charge of Portuguese artists. People will bring bottles of champagne to open at midnight and glasses and raisins will not be missing. After the countdown, many roam to Pink Street and Cais do Sodré, a place only a few minutes walk from Praça do Comércio. A 15-minute walk away, and uphill, you can go to Bairro Alto, an area of ​​bars where you can have a drink, mingle and ask advice for clubs where you can dance until dawn. If you're not into pub crawls, maybe you can take a river cruise or spend some time at a Fado house. If you enjoy dressing smart you'll find exquisite black-tie parties to attend. 

Don't fool yourself by the idea that our winter is soft because late in the evening it can get pretty cold. Or even rainy. For the last few days now Lisbon region has been under severe weather conditions. There is a lot of material damage to report and even loss of life. Some people in this particular region are not going to have the best Christmas this year. I've also seen photographs from other regions further south where the rain caused flooding in homes. Let's hope the weather situation doesn't get worse. People are being advised to stay at home.

As for the last day of the year come prepared with warm clothes that can protect you also from the sea breeze and humidity that can blow from the sea. Don't forget that if you rent a house or an apartment central heating isn’t common in Portugal. I have also stayed in older hotels that are beautiful, traditional, and comfortable, but where the heating is not the best quality. Now, as I'm cold, I always ask how the rooms are heated! For some years now the seasons of the year are no longer like they used to be. We can have a rainy or dry December, a very cold or even a temperate one.

If you arrive in Portugal early, maybe you´ll get to watch Corrida de São Silvestre - Saint Silvester Road Race is a 10 km Road Race that takes place in the days leading up to New Year's Eve. (A curiosity! This is the oldest and most prestigious street race in Brazil and a lot of Portuguese athletes won the first prize there, like Rosa Mota, Aurora Cunha, Carlos Lopes...) 

The 15th edition of LIDL São Silvestre de Lisboa will take place on December 17, 2022, it's a 10 km route, starting and ending at Av. da Liberdade.

January the 1st is a quiet day in Lisbon and most shops and restaurants will be closed. 

I did not intend to be exhaustive in my exposition about New Year's Eve in Lisbon. There is already a lot of information online about how to live New Year's Eve in Lisbon. I am not a tourist guide nor is this blog intended to guide you in your choices. My goal is to give you some hints, opinions and maybe some side knowledge about our traditions.

If you're looking for Portuguese-inspired Christmas or New Year's Eve gifts and cards, 
you may want to check A Portuguese Love Store.  


Popular posts from this blog

Do you remember your summer vacations?

In less than 1 hour it will be Drawing Day!