welcome to emmas housethought

the light in my christmas saudades

I’ve been a Christmas fugitive for most of my life. For many years I was quite happy to go travelling at this time of year and I’ve spent many Christmases in unusual places and in a very un-christmassy way.


Once I spent the whole day on trains from Austria to Holland. That was a true refugee’s Christmas, watching and meeting other people who have disconnected with tradition.


Having an entrenched routine with your with family at home you can easily forget how many people don’t actually celebrate Christmas at all. However, you’d be mistaken to think that in Non-Christian countries it’s business as usual. My Christmases in Egypt and Thailand, while not being normal, were not completely tinsel free.


But now, after three cold Christmases in a row I’m having saudades for home. For the heat, for the beach, for the sun, for the champagne of Christmas in Sydney. And of course, for my family and friends. Perhaps that’s the purpose of this winter solstice holiday – the deprivation of the cold makes you need the feasting and family hearth.


There are good things about Christmas over here, of course. Snow would be one consolation; Portuguese food traditions like leitão (suckling pig) and all the sweet things are good… and this: I love the christmas lighting in Portuguese tiny towns. Sydney’s bling,  trees, santas and sprayed-on-snow never did a thing for me.  Maybe because it’s light until 10pm there, and dark at 5pm here that some pretty supplementary light is welcome and charming. Maybe it’s the combination of old buildings and the slightly retro-looking motifs that suck me in. It helps put some cheer in my christmas gloom, anyway.


Most elevating of all are the funky recycled decorations in Figueiro Dos Vinhos. Sometimes recycled art just looks like a pile of rubbish. But someone has put some thought into these. They twinkle, glitter and shine just as they should. Or maybe it’s the spirit of the concept that gives them life.


From my point of view they are giving the finger to the climate change skeptics I’ve been tolerating this week. I realise they are stupid, illogical or simply deranged,  but they still get my goat, because it’s my planet that they are advocating we ignore.


And here is this tiny little council, in the middle of an antiquated unfamous country, showing that they are enlightened, proactive and they care. And then it seems to me that the war on skepticism is already won. 😉





  1. Adam December 25, 2009 8:10 am Reply

    Happy Christmas sweetie, i’ll drink a champagne in Sydney for you. But know that you’re not missing a sparkling summer day- big, big rain is predicted for the next few days. x

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: December 31st, 2009 at 8:31 am

    you had a cyclone! mental! Actually your weather sounded like ours for a second… 19 and raining… what the? xE

    [Reply to comment]

  2. Paulo Reis December 25, 2009 9:32 am Reply

    Feliz Natal Emma .

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: December 31st, 2009 at 8:29 am

    e boas festas, paulo.

    [Reply to comment]

  3. roger December 25, 2009 9:45 am Reply

    gorgeous , unique!! the best for you, nice season!!!

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: December 31st, 2009 at 8:29 am

    thanks, obs, merci

    [Reply to comment]


  4. Chris December 25, 2009 6:14 pm Reply

    Happy Christmas Emma, but Portugal is famous, port wine, Christopher Columbus etc etc.

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: December 31st, 2009 at 8:28 am

    But only a little bit famous! That’s enough! Hardly ever in the news… it’s a good thing, this staying under the radar… not nearly as famous as turkey!

    [Reply to comment]


  5. Ben December 26, 2009 1:25 am Reply

    Wonderful WONDERFUL photos Emma. They’ve also done a lot of the recycled stuff here in Tavira and the lights here are beautiful too. Have a fab Christmas!

    Ben @ http://www.movingtoportugal.org

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: December 31st, 2009 at 8:26 am

    cool, nice thought that it’s a portugal wide trend

    [Reply to comment]


  6. Isabel December 26, 2009 2:34 am Reply

    I do like this idea of recycled Christmas decorations!

    It cheers me up, and I do need it: my favourite honey, raw, dark, almost bitter, so strong that makes you cough, turned into a sissy clarified sort of thing like one can buy in any supermarket in the world 🙁 Please tell me that this antiquated unfamous country will not join some sort of tacky modernity. I keep praying for it to jump ahead and miss all the mistakes being done, and your recycled thingies give me hope…

    Boas Festas!

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: December 31st, 2009 at 8:25 am

    exactly what I’m thinking – I think portugal could go from frugal poverty to green future so easily, bypassing a nasty commercialism phase.. fingers crossed…

    [Reply to comment]

  7. Dee Hawa December 26, 2009 4:32 am Reply

    Happy christmas Emma from southern spain!

    We’ve had the heaviest rain for 80 years here an old timer told me today! Quite incredible so soggy best wishes to you! Did the Gibraltar Xmas trip and you’ll be happy to hear that my elbow pads held up, and many people got hastily out of the way as I hurled myself towards the last min bargains! boy was it worth it!
    I guess that Morrisons supermarket will ban me next year.
    My plans to buy in central Portugal are still on hold due to the infernal credit crunch .. still who knows what 2010 will bring, hey you may even start building again! joke.
    Happy 2010 Emma and thanks for your blog, your a talented
    young lady! Dee

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: December 31st, 2009 at 8:22 am

    hey! Soggy wet & sloppy portugal here… just how much more rain can there be? yeah damn that credit crunch, recovery is the only way now i think (and prices are so low here now so could be good for you). merry christmas and new year xE

    [Reply to comment]

  8. Célia January 10, 2010 3:46 am Reply

    Cool, the recycled Christmas decorations. Figueiró dos Vinhos is teaching some lessons to Lisboa e Porto!

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: January 14th, 2010 at 6:49 am

    really? cool!

    [Reply to comment]

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