Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Portuguese Christmas Traditions

Christmas is just around the corner and it is time to go through some of Portugal’s Christmas traditions, some of them still very up-to-date.

In this month’s edition of Lisbon’s Agenda Cultural, Tomás Collares Pereira presents some of the Portuguese Christmas Traditions.

In a time when most of us struggle through the shopping list, the “fights” at the shopping mall or the constant advertising bombing all to make sure that Christmas has all it should have, there are still some traditions that survived the standardization that is taking place in our society.

In the list below you will find traditions that no longer take place and other that are more recent, enjoy:

The Christmas Turkey
Brought to Europe by the Spanish and the English it was introduced to the Portuguese in the early 20th century and it was only available to the richest due to the rationing caused by the war.

Christmas Lights

Always associated with this festivity the electric lighting allowed a more elaborate decoration of the city, which is by itself a reason for a visit to the city center, as it happened in 2004 when, in association with a local bank, the Comércio Square assembled a Christmas tree that was, informally, considered the highest in Europe.

The Circus
Christmas is not Christmas without a visit to the Circus and this tradition started early. During the second half of the 19th century, the Theatro-Circo located in Lisbon offered various circus spectacles, but the true circus house in Lisbon is Coliseu dos Recreios, which opened in 1889 and hosts Circus spectacles almost every Christmas.

Traffic
One must think that Christmas traffic is an event of the modern times but you couldn’t be more wrong. In the old days, the Downtown area was the center of Lisbon shopping and it was always very busy at this time of the year.

Traffic Policeman
Here’s a tradition lost in time. With the arrival of the automobile and in consequence its complicated relation with pedestrians, it was necessary to find someone to control traffic. The Traffic Policeman, wearing white gloves and hat/helmet so they can be easily seen, was not well accepted by the drivers in those days. Pedestrians felt safer and for that, and also due to the low incomes, on Christmas they offered gifts to the Traffic Policeman.

Santa Claus
Santa Claus had its origin on St. Nicolau, a bishop that besides his miracles anonymously offered presents to the needed. Although it is common to associate Santa Claus with the Coca-Cola commercials, he has been presented with red clothing in the 19th century. In Portugal, for instance, the tradition of Baby Jesus and a little shoe to receive gifts, prevailed over Santa Claus.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Gulbenkian Music in December

The Gulbenkian Music Season 17/18 reaches December with a vast and eclectic program. As Gulbenkian well states “music can arouse different emotions in different listeners”.

And this is why the season 17/18 is so diverse because “while one listener is alert to the technical capabilities of the musicians, another may be interested in broader relationships between music and philosophy or between music and the world around us.”

So the conclusion is obvious, “there is no right way to enjoy music”.

This is the complete program for December:

1st - Vicente Amigo
Considered “the next Paco de Lucía”, Vicente Amigo is a flamenco guitarist with obvious value, having shared the stage with Camarón de la Isla, John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, Milton Nascimento and, of course, Paco de Lucía, among others.

2nd- András Schiff 
Born in Budapest, András Schiff started taking classes at the age of 5 and is one the world’s most famous interpreters of Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann. He believes that some parts of the piano repertoire should wait for the right age and so, Schiff waited until he was 50 to tackle Beethoven’s sonatas.

3rd - Peter and the Wolf - The Carnival of the Animals - Gulbenkian Orchestra
Written in 1936 by Sergei Prokofiev, Peter and the Wolf was referred as a “musical tale for children”, offering to young people an attractive musical approach to the instruments of the orchestra with its musical and narrative qualities.

8th and 9th - The Wizard of Oz - Gulbenkian Orchestra
This weekend, the Gulbenkian Orchestra accompanies the screening of the all-time classic, The Wizard of Oz, a film directed by Victor Fleming in 1939 with the enthralling Judy Garland as the protagonist. It is an irresistible fantasy that has become a cinema classic.

12th - Mozart’s Requiem - Cadaqués Orchestra 
Directed by Gianandrea Noseda, the Cadaqués Orchestra was founded in 1988 to explore collaborations with living composers, recover the legacy of long-forgotten Spanish music and boost the careers of emerging artists, composers, and conductors.

13th - Christmas Oratorio - Gulbenkian Orchestra and Choir
As we are getting closer to December 24th the program gets into Christmas’ spirit. Composed to celebrate Christmas in 1734, J. S. Bach’s famous Christmas Oratorio re-uses, adapts and expands some of the music he previously wrote, notably in his cantatas.

20th and 21st - Musicals and Christmas around the world - Gulbenkian Orchestra and Choir
Just a couple of days before Christmas, Gulbenkian Music presents Sofia Escobar trained at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She is appearing for the first time at Gulbenkian Music, in a program filled with tunes from famous musicals and well-known Christmas carols.

31st - Te Deum at São Roque - Gulbenkian Orchestra and Choir
December ends with a classic, Jorge Matta conducts the Gulbenkian Choir and Orchestra in an event that is already one of Gulbenkian Music’s traditions, the “Te Deum at São Roque”. This time it presents the first modern performance of the “Te Deum Laudamus”, by Bráz Francisco de Lima (1752-1813).

Friday, 10 November 2017

Há Fado no Cais – Gonçalo Salgueiro

CCB’s Há Fado no Cais presents one of Fado’s new voices, Gonçalo Salgueiro, on November 17th at the Grande Auditório.

Born in 1978 in Montemor-O-Novo, Gonçalo Salgueiro, one of Fado’s new rising stars, started his record career with a tribute to Amália Rodrigues but soon grew in his own style.

Photo: João Portugal
Along the way he received several “blessings” from some of Fado’s great names, such as Maria da Fé or João Braga.

Sombras e Fado (“Shadows and Fado”) is an introduction to Gonçalo Salgueiro as well as the title for his most recent album.

It is a show that revisits some of the themes from his earlier recordings and others that he has recreated and which have made him famous among wider audiences. Joining him will be some of those who have been important to his musical career, and the concert will have several surprises in stored for everyone.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Apps for those who like to travel

There’s no way to go around technology, especially if you’re traveling. Here's a small guide for the best Apps to use when you’re away from home.

There are thousands and thousands of Apps throughout the app stores and, sometimes, it’s hard to find the correct one. “Expresso” has made it easy for us and selected the 5 that you really can’t miss.

Here Maps 
We start with the obvious maps, no matter where you are, in downtown Lisbon or in the Circus in Rome, Here Maps is available in the major platforms and it has an unbeatable feature which allows you to download the maps you need in advance so, you don’t have to pay later when you’re using roaming. Calmly, at home, select the map or maps you need, install them and from that moment you’ll have access to several navigation tools, for walking courses or for driving by car or motorcycle.

Bravolol
When travelling one of the most common problems is to deal with the local language and, sometimes,
the difference between a happy trip and an all lot of trouble is a simple word. Bravolol includes the most used sentences in 13 languages, allowing also to play the sentences so that you can say it in a perfect way.

Tripcase
Everyone dreams with an assistant, not all of us can afford one but fortunately we have Tripcase. Tripcase is an app that organizes and plans your entire trip. In one single place you can gather all the information regarding your journey, plain tickets, hotel reservations or car hire, you can “pack” everything in this digital bag. Best of all, the information is not static and with the help of internet you can receive updates on your flight schedule, changes of boarding gate, call an Uber, receive recommendations for dinner, promotions and even weather forecasts.

Snapchat
You probably already have a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account, which is fine, keep them their
important too. But Snapchat has one feature that beats the others, it allows you to create your stories (snaps) and share them with your friends and family. And since the content is only live for a limited period it is easy to control exactly what you shared.

Currency
Not a big problem for Europeans who travel inside of the European Union but currency can be an issue if you find yourself in Canada or Japan. The app Currency includes currencies for 150 countries and allows you to do conversions between several currencies and get the most updated quotation.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Tips to avoid jet lag

How many times did you suffer from jet lag? Too many? Rafael Ruiz, of Delta Air Lines gives us 6 tips to avoid it.

Traveling is most people’s favorite hobby and it’s hard to hide the excitement when one boards an airplane and travel to any new place. But not all is roses, jet lag passengers may suffer when traveling to remote destinations, and this makes the experience a bit less exciting.

Here are 6 tips to overcome the lag related to the differences between time zones.

1 - Set your clock to the destination time before the flight. 
This is probably the most important thing to do before boarding, it helps keeping your mind in tune with the city you are visiting and focus on what you have to do when you land, instead of what you feel like doing in the current time zone.

2 - Stay awake on daytime flights and sleep on nocturnal flights. 
Although it may seem obvious, it is important to try to stay awake during the day and sleep at night, by keeping the daily rhythms will be easier to feel refreshed upon arrival.

3 - Drink plenty of water, and avoid coffee.
Water keeps you hydrated and alert, you may feel tempted to drink coffee, but water is more effective and helps you to keep away the fatigue that comes with jet lag.

4 - Avoid heavy foods, especially at lunch.
Heavy food, especially at lunch, can lead to a break in the afternoon and cause your biological clock to become even more out of sync, instead of having lunch eat a snack if you want to keep your energy levels high.

5 - Take your tennis shoes in the bag.
Exercise is always the best way to keep your energy levels high when you land, keeping you alert during the day, while allowing you to see the city better and still helping you to sleep when it's time. This is especially useful for business travelers, who need to ensure the energy at the right time for those important meetings.

6 - Turn off your phone at night 
When adjusting to a new time zone, it is essential to get a good night's sleep. If you have friends, family or colleagues sending you messages and emails that wake you up, your sleep will be disturbed all night and you will feel tired and dizzy. When it's time to sleep, turn off your phone, tablet, and laptop.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Haru Ishii Tiles – From the Shadows of Kyoto to the Light of Lisbon

Until December 31st, the Museu Nacional do Azulejo hosts the exhibition “Haru Ishii Tiles – From the Shadows of Kyoto to the Light of Lisbon”.

The exhibition is divided into two rooms. The first one is where the artist claims its Japanese origins and where the environment part is displayed, materializing its roots in shadows - the sea, the rain that feeds the green forests, the fish-based diet, and the culture, such as the ceremony of tea.

In the second space you will find a more vibrant and luminous room, where Ishii recalls the Portuguese-Japanese ties so well portrayed in the namban screens, recovering the voyage of Portuguese ships between continents, sailing seas, surpassing winds and tides, to bring to the West the most exotic and exquisite that Japan has to offer.

Haru Ishii is a Japanese artist who first came across azulejos (tiles) in 1995, when she came to Portugal and spent a month working in a traditional Portuguese workshop, in Palmela.

From then until now she has dedicated all her creativity to this art, uncovering the most hidden secrets of this traditional Portuguese art to recreate and reinvent it in the Japanese style, taking advantage of her cultural roots.

With public works on display in several Japanese cities, from Tokyo to Kyoto, from Shimane to Hiroshima, from Kochi to Okayama, just to name a few, and in addition to a number of collections, at the Museu Nacional do Azulejo in Lisboa, Ishii displays a show that is a synthesis of 474 years of Portuguese-Japanese understanding.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Palace Afternoon Tea

An Afternoon Tea is a very special treat to be enjoyed by family and friends.

This very English tradition is said to have been started around 1840 by duchess Anna Maria and it is usually taken between 3 and 5 o'clock.

Tea is commonly consumed at social events, and many cultures have created formal ceremonies for these events. Western examples of these are afternoon tea and the tea party.

For some, especially in the upper social classes, tea is a late afternoon light meal, often just cake, scones or sandwiches served, irrespective of the beverage consumed with it.

Although it is not very known, Portugal was the first to introduce the practice of drinking tea to Europe as well as the first European country to produce tea around 1750.


In Lisbon it is possible to enjoy the Afternoon Tea in some historical Tea Lounges as the "Pastelaria Versailles" open since 1922 which preserves traces of art deco that was always characterized by larger mirrors and crafted ceilings or the "Pavilhão Chinês" one of the most emblematic places of Lisbon with high aesthetic and architectural value.

In 1996 the Avenida Palace hosted a series of encounters that took place every Saturday afternoon. It was called "Chá com Poesia" (Tea with Poetry). This event brought to the Avenida Palace numerous personalities related to Culture, to hear and recite poetry.

Steeped in tradition, the Avenida Palace has been using the tradition of the Afternoon Tea for some years now.

To accompany the occasion is the piano with Mozart and Chopin as some of the composers to be heard and the splendid lounge of this landmark hotel plays host to this ritual.