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Portuguese Culture Is Based On

Portuguese culture is based on a past that dates back to prehistoric times and was strongly influenced by a diversity of peoples and customs over the years. The eras of the Roman and Arab invasions, as well as the societies that preceded them, left their vestiges and an eclectic cultural and archaeological legacy visible throughout the Portuguese territory. According to the Britannica Online Encyclopedia, the cave paintings of the Escoural Cave, the Roman city of Conímbriga, the Temple of Diana in Evora and the Arabian architecture in the cities of Olhão and Tavira are just a few examples of the particular cultural treasures of the country.

Throughout the centuries, the arts in Portugal have suffered external influences, including Flemish, French, and Italian. The voyages of the Portuguese discoverers paved the way for oriental inspirations and the revelation of gold and precious stones from Brazil that fed the Baroque flame in architecture and decoration (Kingsley, 1980). Portugal has a huge cultural heritage. The culture of Portugal is much preserved by the Portuguese, who seek to keep traditions and pass from generation to generation.

One of the most genuine and unique customs of Portugal is the food. The Portuguese gastronomy is superb and will provide you with delicious moments. I had the pleasure to interview some Portuguese family members, and experienced that once I was visiting them in Portugal; Interviewing over Skype Hortensia Gouveia, is an International Relations Professor at Universidade de Coimbra and lives there for 55 years said that, among the main specialties are cream pastries, regional cheeses, cod, numerous meat, fish, or seafood dishes like bacalhau, as well as excellent wines and beer. Being invited to the Portuguese’s birthday and the best thing, they make them banquets and buy a lot of food much bigger than necessary, and this is not only for parties, but also for any small family reunion, the food table will never be empty, as I also experienced in 2014.

Apart from the quantity, the quality of the food and the affection with which the banquet is prepared, so that your guests are satisfied and happy, and with that enjoy the joy of the moment. At the table you will surely find: codfish, gizzards, olives, tuna pate, bread, small potato chips. In addition there is always a good salad, and you can also have roasted chicken, pork, among other delicacies. At the end the cake is served with a cold froth and then a cup of espresso for each guest.

As Louis Karno mentions in “Portugal Adventures”, Portuguese play with great emotion the Portuguese football league and especially the national team. When the Portuguese national team was European champion, the country stopped to celebrate, and many people asked for a holiday at work, so they could go to Lisbon and watch the arrival of the Portuguese players (and see Cristiano Ronaldo up close). Another curiosity, the number of women who enjoy football and go to the stadium has increased a lot and more and more football is seen as a family sport in Portugal. Going to the stadium to watch soccer games is almost an “every weekend thing” in Portugal. “I would encourage business travelers to go watch at least one of these games and bring their businesses’ information along with business cards to distribute and introduce it to people around the V.I.P area, because at the stadium there are a lot of big companies representatives, which are always good business connections for partnership/trade/experience.” This is an advice that came from Fernando Gouveia when we interviewed him over Facetime, who is a wine and cheese business owner in Lisbon – Portugal. Fernando also says that, one of the best assets for his business, for example, was to every big soccer game, he would set a table in the V.I.P area with different cheese for the people around to taste, and he would have one of his sellers to introduce and talk about each wine that he has in store to sell.

As mentioned on the APORTUGUESEAFFAIR website, the young/adult/old Portuguese people go out, have fun, drink with friends, but have a funny habit that is normally not seen in United States, for example. When we had the opportunity to interview Joaquim Tavares via Facetime (Economics student at Universidade de Coimbra) mentioned that go out at night to a bakery for a black espresso is definitely something common Portugal. It is funny because in the same bakery there will be cold beer, but many prefer still good coffee (preferably very strong and short). To accompany the coffee, the Portuguese light a cigarette and sit in open-air café (here called the esplanade). Even cigarettes being expensive and damaging to health, the Portuguese (as well as most Europeans) continue to smoke and no matter the age. The average of beginning and 13 years of age as Joaquim Tavares mentioned; even with the minimum age for purchase and consumption of tobacco is 18 (Kato).

Moving on to the “compare and contrast” part, one important thing that I believe is important to highlight is that Portuguese people are not as consumptive as American people; Instead of spending their budget on going to the mall and buying clothes, shoes, or electronic devices, they would rather travel. They travel a lot, especially because Europe has a tangle of countries all very close and with great ease of access, either by plane or train. Portuguese cities are usually pedestrian friendly, which is totally different than American cities. In United States, it’s hard seeing people walking around, because everything you want to do a car will be needed, or its even harder to see people taking public transportations, because they lack on this area. Also in Europe there is a much greater integration of events in the world. Much of the news is of international content, which is not a “big thing” in United States. When talking to Americans, we are able to see that they are strongly patriots, and that makes them close their eyes for the other rest of the world’s issues. The environment shapes the Portuguese perception. A 100-year-old house or church is considered new by the Europeans, but old by the Americans. I even heard that Americans think 200 years were "ancient," an English word that for Europeans usually refers to the ancient world, that is, antiquity, not antiquities.

Some other things that need to be taken in consideration when taking a business trip to Portugal is that all Europeans use the metric system (meters, grams, liters, and Celsius). Although Americans learn it at school, the vast majority of them still use the old English imperial system (yards, miles, pounds, Fahrenheit, etc.) for everyday life; Europeans write the date in the format "Day Month Year," while Americans use "Month Day, Year". Most Europeans who do not speak English use the 24-hour system, as opposed to the 12-hour system used in English-speaking countries.

When planning a business trip to Portugal, one of the important things that a typical American citizen needs to understand is that the time and distance perceptions are completely different, as I (Nathalia Gouveia) noticed when I visited Portugal three times.

The learning of foreign languages in Europe is compulsory in all countries since primary (primary) school. Most Europeans learn from 2 to 4 foreign languages, for obvious reasons. Americans generally only speak English (plus their native language, that normally they speak only at home with family members to immigrants) because they do not need more in their giant country. (Devlin, 2015)

Another difference is that in Portugal, the “American nomadism” is not as practiced. In Portugal, citizens usually travel to know the world, but they like to come back home afterwards. This is a country that ages rapidly, since the Portuguese do not have a lot of children. Another big difference is that Portuguese (and the rest of the European continent), they value the meals. For example, they like to seat and eat calmly each and every single meal, which we don’t normally see in United States, where people are always in a rush eating while driving/working/doing anything else. It can be said that the Portuguese citizens live life more like “bon vivant”, while in United States they have a less exciting life, where they normally work to live and live to work.

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I’m a freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Boston University. My work has been featured in publications like the L.A. Times, U.S. News and World Report, Farther Finance, Teen Vogue, Grammarly, The Startup, Mashable, Insider, Forbes, Writer (formerly Qordoba), MarketWatch, CNBC, and USA Today, among others.