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Snapshot of Portugal – Portuguese is the official language of Portugal. About 80% of Portugal’s population belongs to the Roman Catholic church, which continues to play a role in many cultural events such as weddings and funerals. Local folklore, saint’s days, and other religious events are especially popular in more rural areas. Theater, cinema, and art exhibitions can be popular in larger cities. A variety of popular musical styles can be heard in Portugal, ranging from rock and pop to to unique Portuguese styles such as fado and pimba. Soccer is the most popular sport in Portugal, though other sports such as basketball and volleyball are also popular. Lunch is generally the main meal in Portugal. It is common for meals to be accompanied by a soup, such as caldo verde (a soup made with potato and collard greens). Fish and seafood dishes (particularly cod, which is called bacalhau) are especially popular. Other dishes include cozido à portugesa (a stew of various meats and vegetables served with rice and beans) and bife, a fried piece of pork or beef served with a salad or fried potatoes. Rice pudding is a popular dessert. Cafés are also popular places to socialize and eat throughout the country.
There are 10 stakes and districts located within the Portugal Lisbon mission, which includes all of Portugal, including the island areas of Açores and Madeira (each their own districts). While the Church population is not extremely large in Portugal, it has experienced steady growth, especially in the areas around Lisbon and Porto. In 2010, President Thomas S. Monson announced that a temple would be constructed in Lisbon.
Missionaries can expect to eat a lot of seafood in Portugal, especially cod (bacalhau)! Cod is extremely popular in Portugal and is served in a wide variety of ways. Other popular seafood items include sardines and shellfish. Lunch is traditionally the largest meal of the day in Portugal, and the main course (which usually includes a serving of rice and beans alongside a meat or seafood dish) is often accompanied by a soup. Portugal also produces several types of cheese, which are quite popular.
Lisbon has a very reliable public transportation system that includes buses, trams, and a metro system. Missionaries have several options available when they need to get around faster than just using their own two feet!
“We used buses, trains, and subways, and most especially our feet. Be sure to bring very comfortable, broken-in shoes.” – Bruno
As in any large city, there are certain areas that should be avoided after dark. Missionaries should be aware of their surroundings and act responsibly to avoid trouble.
The month of June features holidays dedicated to the Santos Populares (popular saints) of Portugal. The three celebrated saints are Saint Anthony, Saint Peter, and Saint John. A wide variety of activities take place throughout the country to celebrate these saints. Carnival is another popular cultural event, though many of its festivities are not appropriate for missionaries!
The Portuguese also know how to celebrate Christmas! It is a huge party both on a ward/branch level and with individual families. Get ready to eat your weight in delicious desserts, especially arroz doce (literally translated to sweet rice), which is a traditional rice pudding.
The type of Portuguese spoken in Portugal (aka “continental Portuguese”) is quite distinct from Brazilian Portuguese in its pronunciation. Certain words also have different meanings between these two types of Portuguese, which may require some time to adapt to.
“I brought an old fashioned hot water bottle that saved my life in the winters. The apartments we lived in were very poorly insulated and it got very cold.” – Bruno
Portugal has many historical and cultural sites to visit! Some famous sites in Lisbon include the Belém Tower and the Cristo-Rei monument, as well as several museums, soccer stadiums, and other sites.
Shipping to Portugal
There are no concerns with the postal system. The Portugal mailing system is very reliable. Allow time to ship however, especially during high shipping times such as holidays.
Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Portugal-Lisbon-Mission/471343459596851
Straight from the Portugal Lisbon Mission field:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
*What did you eat the most of?
“Rice, beans, eggs, and cereals.”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Portugal Lisbon Mission?
“Truly love the members and investigators, and don’t see them as numbers”
“Learn to love the culture and especially the amazing people. Be sure to try every variety of pastry.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“Besides all the work, you need to chill and have fun”
“Despite what some websites state, it does get cold in Portugal. You will need warm clothes, especially for the sisters. It gets cold in a skirt!”
**Did you serve in the Portugal Lisbon Mission? If so we could love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org**