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29 October 2014

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Paulo Pereira with salted cod, a festive treat.
Paulo Pereira with cod, a festive treat

A Portuguese Christmas

There are around 20,000 Portuguese living in Norfolk and many of them will be staying in the county to celebrate Christmas. Some of the community told us about their plans for the festive season, writes Penny Shillito.

Many Portuguese people who live in the county will not be taking time off during the festive season to return home but will celebrate Christmas with a Portuguese flavour in Norfolk.

Children with an inflatable Santa.
These children look forward to parties

Shops in Thetford, Great Yarmouth and Dereham are receiving deliveries from Portugal of Christmas food including salted cod fish, cakes and locally produced wine and port.  

Jorge Pascoal, from Thetford's Portuguese Latin Association, explained to us what makes a traditional Portuguese Christmas.

The overall celebrations are similar to British customs but the Portuguese will feast on their own unique dishes during the festivities.

The night of the 24 December is an important time in the Christmas calendar. On Christmas Eve it is the custom to have a midnight supper of salted cod fish and Portuguese wine.

In Portugal, shops sell cod that has been cut open, salted and hung up to dry.  Here in Norfolk, shops serving the Portuguese communities have ordered crates of large salted cod fillets ready for the festive season.

The midnight supper's preparation starts the day before Christmas Eve when the cod is steeped in water for 24 hours to remove most of the salt.

It is then cooked in a large pan of water with vegetables, potatoes and eggs. The finished dish is called consiado and in Portugal it is eaten just after Midnight Mass.

On Christmas Day many different dishes are eaten including turkey, pork and various meats. 

Paulo Pereira, who owns Daniella's Cafe in Thetford, told us cakes and sweets are a major part of the Christmas fare.

He orders confectioneries from Portugal to sell throughout December. Bolo rei or king cake is a particular favourite. It is a round cake glazed with fruits, nuts and sugar.

The traditional Portuguese dessert rabanadas is also eaten at Christmas. Rabanadas is made from white bread soaked in eggs and wine and then fried to form a candy-like crust. 

During the festivities in Thetford there will be a children's party at Daniella's Café on the 22 December, while Portuguese singers Miguel and Andre will perform at the town's Carnegie Rooms on 12 December. 

The end of the Christmas celebrations are marked on 6 January which is known as King's Day in Portugal.

last updated: 09/12/04
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