Roasted chestnuts Lisbon, November 11 St. Martin’s Day traditions & liqueur Jeropiga

The unmistakable smell of roasted chestnuts (castanhas assadas) is announcing autumn’ s arrival in Portugal. Quentes e boas’! ‘(Get’ em hot!). This cry goes out on the Lisbon streets.

chestnuts in Lisbon December 08 quente e boas

‘Hot and good, a dozen for € 2“.

Much to the chagrin of many, the traditional paper cone made out of the Yellow Papers has been replaced by soulless paper packages, which takes something away from the ritual of chestnuts.

Chestnuts in Lisbon white paper bag instead of yellow papers

Baixa area, the commercial heart of Lisbon

St. Martin’s Day is celebrated on November 11

It is called Magusto. This day is the peak of three days, often with very good weather, known as Verão de São Martinho (Saint Martin’s summer).

St. Martin’s Day dinner at home with friends

The Portuguese celebrate St. Martin’s Day with jeropiga (a traditional delicious sweet liqueur wine) and roasted chestnuts (castanhas assadas).

How to make jeropiga

Tram Lisbon Feliz Natal and roasted chestnuts

Rossio, Lisbon in December

Traditions

On St. Martin’s Day traditions dictate that family and friends gather around a glowing hearth or bonfire.

Roasted chestnuts

Chestnuts are roasted, traditional alcoholic drinks are served, like água-pé (a watered kind of wine), jeropiga, vinho novo (young wine), or the slow smooth burn of aguardente (‘firewater’, alcoholic drinks between 29 and 60 percent).

Chestnuts and Jeropiga

Chestnuts and jeropiga

Because this pagan festival is a celebration of life, there is food and drink and plenty of fun: in some regions people smother themselves with ashes, black themselves up and sing around the fire.

Largo do Chiado chestnuts

Largo do Chiado, Lisbon

More….

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