Major Portuguese Easter traditions usually kick off during Holy Week (starting a week prior to Easter Sunday, on Palm Sunday). One of the most important days of Holy Week is Good Friday. On this day (and sometimes on the Saturday too), people normally fast from meat in celebration of Jesus’ sacrifice for his people. It is customary, but dependent on the region, to eat a plate of codfish and vegetables at dinner. For the more devout Catholics, it is also customary to not eat meat on Fridays throughout the period of Lent, or for the even more devout, to not eat meat on Friday at all, ever.
Prior to Easter Sunday, it is also tradition in some regions to have the local priest perform a service called Compasso (2). During Compasso, the priest travels from house to house with the cross (within their town or “aldeia”), blessing the homes in God’s Name (2). Many from the older generation of Portuguese enjoy this part the most, as they believe it will bring good faith, joy and luck into their homes.
On Easter Sunday, it is customary to attend mass in the morning with your family. Sometimes, in larger cities, there will be processions in honour of Jesus’ death (before or after mass), but they may also happen anytime during Holy Week as well. After the mass, families will usually get together to have a large feast, in which the meat fasting ends, and a lamb (or goat) roast/stew is the main course (however, as mentioned before, this varies from region to region).
In preparation for the feast on Easter Sunday, the Portuguese usually bake a braided sweet bread called Folar de Páscoa during Holy Week. This bread is very fluffy in texture, and has hard boiled eggs nestled into the top under the braided portion, to decorate it (1). The eggs are said to symbolize Jesus’ sacrifice and rebirth (1), and depending on the region, they may take on various colours and sizes. The Folar is usually accompanied with other sweets, which vary from almond candies called Amendoas, traditional Pão-de-ló (a type of sponge cake), to chocolate covered bunnies and candy eggs (1).
Happy Easter! / Feliz Páscoa!
(1) "Folar: A Traditional Portuguese Easter Bread," n.d. retrieved from https://www.expatica.com/pt/out-and-about/Folar-A-traditional-Portuguese-Easter-bread_106069.html
(2)"Portuguese Easter Traditions," 2012 retrieved from https://www.all-about-portugal.com/portuguese-easter-traditions/