• 2017.11.15
  • Halloween in Portugal
November 1 is a festival day called Dia de Todos-os-Santos. Although the literal translation of Dia de Todos-os-Santos is “All Saints Day,” it’s not a day for the saints but a day to pray for the faithful who have passed away. Or perhaps calling it by the Japanese name “Obon,” or even “Halloween” makes it easier to understand.

When the day comes, the children in the village go around knocking on people's doors holding a cloth bag. They call out in a loud voice, "Pão por Deus! Pão por Deus!," then plead with the person who comes out of the house for "Pão por Deus!"

"Pão por Deus!" means "bread for God's sake" and is a type of firm sweet bread made around this time of the year. In Portugal, the basic name for heavy firm bread is "broa," but unlike the broa made from cornmeal that you normally see in shops, the Pão por Deus broa handed out on this festival day is based on sweet potato and contains sugar, fennel, and sometimes nuts, so it has quite a nice, slightly sweet, and simple taste.

But the Pão por Deus that people give out contains different things depending on the region, so some contains nuts, dried fruit, or even cake, and apparently some people in Lisbon used to give out money. More recently, under influence from Halloween in the US, people have been switching to snacks like candy or jelly candy.

Apparently, this custom has been around since pagan times, in the 15th century, but is said to have become firmly established in the year after the Great Lisbon earthquake in 1755. They say the inhabitants who barely escaped the Great earthquake went to neighboring areas that weren’t damaged and managed to get Pão por Deus (bread) by begging.

Another thing is the understanding that you only go from house to house calling out Pão por Deus up until midday. I’m not exactly sure why, but it seems that if you went beyond midday, you couldn’t be sure that you wouldn’t get a severe rebuke from the person who opened the door. Of course, these days if you did that it would probably cause a rift with your neighbors, so I guess that’s why I’ve never seen it.

To end, I’d like to tell you about The Sexiest WC on Earth.

The Sexiest WC on Earth combines a showroom of the Portuguese paper manufacturer Renova, and a public restroom, located in Lisbon’s Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square). The interior design is very stylish, and you can choose and use your favorite from a colorful selection of toilet papers lined up on the wall.

Since Renova launched its colorful toilet paper in 2005 it is now sold in countries around the world including dozens of European countries, the US, Australia, Dubai, and so on, and is gaining a lot of support from famous celebrities around the world. This year they are opening a factory in France in a bid to expand market share.

Apparently it has been on sale in Japan for the last 10 years, since Beyoncé uses it.

When I went to The Sexiest WC on Earth a few days ago to have a look, I found it had a Halloween theme! And the Halloween-themed napkins were great!


  • Megumi Ota
  • JobConservator, interpreter, and coordinator / Insitu (restoration), Kaminari-sama / Novajika, and others

I’m a conservator and preservationist living in Portugal. I specialize primarily in paintings (murals) and gold leaf design, and am involved with UNESCO World Heritage structures as well as the interior of the Palace of Belém. I derive great satisfaction from having close ties to my community in the rural village near the Silver Coast where I live. My hobby is gardening.

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