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

Birth of the Ukulele

Madeiran Immigrants created the ukulele from the "braguinha".

Impact of the Ukulele on Hawaiian and American Culture

The rapid acceptance of the ukulele was due to the patronage of King Kalakaua and his brother Prince Leleiohoku, and sisters Princess Likelike and the future Queen Lili’uokalani.

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.

Portuguese Cobblestone in the World, by Ernesto Matos

Ernesto Matos, in his travels around the world, has captured disconnected images and has built a near exhaustive inventory of his fondness for carpeting the ground with small stones in two colors.

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.

Madeira Wine

Wine succeeded sugar as a Madeira staple.

Madeiran Cuisine

Madeiran cuisine has European and African heritage.

Portuguese Footprints -- Culinary Delights

Hearty soups, fish and pork dishes, linguiça, sausages, and sweet desserts

Portuguese Footprints -- The Festas

The most important cultural event in the California Portuguese-American community is the Holy Ghost Festa.

Holy Ghost Festas -- Crowns

Originating with the legend of Queen St. Isabel crowning a humble person to reign over the festival.

Holy Ghost Festas -- Impérios

Small structures with a distinct architectural style where the faithful conduct their rituals in devotion to the Holy Spirit.

Holy Ghost Festas -- Organizing the Festa

Holding a “festa” is the result of the year-round activities of the dedicated directors and members of the brotherhoods.

Holy Ghost Festas -- Processions to Parades

Simple processions gave way to elaborate parades complete with marching bands and floats.

Holy Ghost Festas -- Queens

In 1906, a writer for a Santa Clara newspaper referred to the crown bearer as a queen.

Grupo Folclórico Tempos de Outrora

Preserving the beauty and history of the folk dancing traditions of the Azores

Mestre Hélio Beirão and his "Viola da Terra"

Mestre Hélio Beirão is recognized as the leading exponent of “Viola da Terra” or “Viola da Terceira".