Culture Around the World

The rich culture of the Portuguese people is the result of the many different paths taken as they traveled the world.

As each generation integrates with its environment, the Portuguese culture has become even more varied, while managing to retain its core traditions and flavor that make it unique. These articles present curated examples of the best of Portuguese culture -- music, architecture, art, literature and folklore.

Click on an article below.

Dia de Portugal 2018

View some of the festivities from Dia de Portugal 2018

Nativity Scenes, or Presépios

Teaching the story of the birth of Jesus.

Artisans Create Nativity Scenes

Ceramics work in the Azores dates back to the late 15th century, not long after discovery of these Atlantic islands.

Madeiran Nativity Scenes

The nativity scene known as "lapinha" honors the Baby Jesus.

Miniatures and Models

Miniatures and models are the folk art of Portugal.

Traditional Azorean Kitchen

The museum's Azorean kitchen exhibit is a re-creation of the typical kitchen of old, the very heart of the home.

Calçada Portuguesa

Calçada portuguesa, or Portuguese cobblestone pavement, is a unique and authentic art form of small hand cut limestone and basalt stones assembled one-by-one in beautifully intricate patterns and scenes found everywhere in Portugal and abroad, in its former colonies and in other European countries.

Calçada Portuguesa -- History

Would you believe that the history of "calçada portuguesa" involves a white rhinoceros named Ganga? It was a gift from Afonso de Albuquerque, the founder of the Portuguese Empire in the Orient and Governor of Portuguese India to King Manuel I for his birthday.

Calçeteiros -- Cobblestone Craftsmen

The Portuguese Heritage Society of California brought over two skilled "calçeteiros" from Terceira to "calçar" our museum plaza. When their time was running out, they trained some of our own board members in the art of "calçada portuguesa" so that they could finish the project.

Tradition of the Tabuleiros

Thirty stacked pieces of bread symbolize the bread that Queen St. Isabel of Portugal gave to the poor.

We All Love to Eat

Portuguese explorers, missionaries, settlers -- and even royalty -- introduced Portuguese food and wine in countries spanning the globe.

Let's Eat

From cheese to soups to casseroles, Portuguese cuisine draws upon its roots on the continent and in the islands.


Portugal is deservedly famous for its wines. It ranks fifth in the world for wine exports, behind Italy, France, Spain, and Australia, and ahead of the U.S..

About Brazilian Food

Brazil is Portugal’s largest former colony with its own foods now popular here.

Ceramics for Your Table

The Portuguese have worked clay since prehistory – it is part of who they are.


The name derives from the Roman designation "Portus Cale" meaning "Port of Cale"; Cale was an ancient Celtic town and port in present-day northern Portugal.

The Azores

The word "açor" is Portuguese for a species of raptor, erroneously identified as goshawk. It is also derived from the word for blue.


The name means “wood” in the Portuguese language, and the archipelago was named for its large forests and dense vegetation.


Name derived by the Portuguese from the title "ngola" held by kings of the Ndongo kingdom in what is now northern Angola.


Its name derives from the brazilwood tree from which a deep red dye was produced; these trees were once plentiful along the coast.

Cape Verde

Name derived from "Cap-Vert" (Green Cape) on the Senegalese coast, which is the westernmost point of Africa and the nearest point on the mainland to the islands.


The country is named after the Guinea region of West Africa that lies along the Gulf of Guinea and stretches north to the Sahel. Bissau (name of its principal city) distinguishes the country from neighboring Guinea.


Named for the offshore island of Mozambique. The island was apparently named after Mussa al-BIK, an influential Arab slave trader who set himself up as sultan on the island in the 15th century.

São Tomé and Príncipe

São Tomé was named after Saint Thomas the Apostle by the Portuguese who discovered the island on December 21, 1470 -- the saint's feast day. Príncipe is a shortening of the original Portuguese name meaning "Isle of the Prince", referring to the Prince of Portugal.

East Timor

"Timor" derives from the Indonesian and Malay word meaning "east". East Timor literaly means "East East". The local name "Timor Lorosa'e" translates as "East Rising Sun".


It was known in ancient literature by many names, such as Gomanchala, Gopakapattam, Gopakapuri, and Gomantak. In the 3rd century BC, Goa was known as Aparantha. In the 13th century, the Greeks referred to Goa as Nelkinda. Other historical names are Sindapur, Sandabur, and Mahassapatam.


The name is thought to derive from the A-Ma Temple, built in 1488 and dedicated to Mazu, the goddess of seafarers and fishermen, referred to locally as "Maa Gok" and which in Portuguese became "Macau."

Madeira Wine

Wine succeeded sugar as a Madeira staple.

Madeiran Cuisine

Madeiran cuisine has European and African heritage.