Madeiro de Penamacor - The largest wood in Portugal!

MADEIRO DE PENAMACOR BEIRA BAIXA CRISPELWORLD CHRISTMAS IN PORTUGAL16

A Portuguese Christmas tradition, long live!

The largest madeiro in Portugal is located in Penamacor, a beautiful village with 1,500 inhabitants and all the Portuguese charms.
Its tradition is beautiful! Legend has it that the wood dates back to Celtic times. The Romans and Catholics took it as their own over the centuries and the tradition is still alive today!

We were invited to get to know this tradition up close and feel all the incredible energy of this event.

The whole village takes to the streets, everyone becomes friends, even those of us who have never been there feel like we're friends with everyone. Treats are handed out, music is played in all sorts of ways and places and it's all one big joy. Few times in my life have I been able to witness something like this.

But before I tell you all about the wood from Penamacor, I'm going to talk more about Beira Baixa and Penamacor.

Beira Baixa

Beira Baixa is located in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula and is made up of six Portuguese municipalities: Castelo Branco, Idanha-a-Nova, Oleiros, Penamacor, Proença-a-Nova and Vila Velha de Ródão.
Each of these municipalities has a unique identity, which makes the region a complete mosaic of culture and diversity.
I often joke that Portugal changes completely every kilometer, and in the Beira Baixa region this is seen very clearly.

What is the tree?

The madeiro is a huge bonfire that burns on Christmas Eve and is found in the center of towns and villages, or near churches. It is usually kept alight until King's Day.

It's a centuries-old tradition from Beira Baixa in Portugal, where the boys would search for wood and perform the ritual of transition between youth and adulthood when they assembled the wood.

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Nowadays and for some years now, this tradition has been modernized, and not only do they no longer use animal-drawn carts, but tractors, but girls also take part in this huge party!

However, the Madeiro de Penamacor still has other peculiarities, firstly: it is the largest madeiro in Portugal! Every year they surpass this mark by increasing its size, it really is incredible!
Another peculiarity is that Penamacor's wood is ascended a day earlier, on the evening of December 23rd. All the other places ascend on December 24th.

We had the opportunity to take part in the assembly of this beautiful tradition and saw the city completely in celebration for two days.

The trees of the Penamacor wood

Okay, Cris, but what about the trees? I talked to the local people, and I could see how close-knit the community is and how much they care about tradition! They usually use trees that are at the end of their life, or rotten or diseased, and plant new ones in their place. I found it incredibly conscientious! Portugal is one of the most wooded countries I've ever been to, there's nature everywhere you look and this attitude doesn't just come from deforestation, but from thinking about future generations, who will need these specific trees to continue the tradition

Assembling the Timber

The wood is assembled every year on December 8, but the festivities begin the day before, with a beautiful bonfire, feasting, music and socializing where the boys go out to collect the wood that will be assembled the following day and the people celebrate as they should.

We saw lots of locals offering food and drinks to everyone at this beautiful party, and even though it was a cold night, we could only feel our hearts warmed at being able to take part in it.

We stop, we toast, sang and danced! We saw a bit of a huge bonfire warming up the the center of the party. There I got a glimpse of what the which is at least twice the size of this bonfire.

Tractor parade

The next day we began to see a bit of commotion in the street, and we soon realized that the wood was about to arrive. Huge tractors started queuing up, can you imagine? More than 21 tractors with trunks and whole trees for the logging!

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But don't go thinking that the log only brings the trees, laughs, as well as the "Malta 99", many lively ladies were literally being brought by the tractors, singing, toasting and celebrating!

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The town is completely taken over by tractors, one by one bringing in the wood for the huge bonfire, which lasts all day.

Malta 99

With each new tractor and group, a chorus of Malta 99 came along, but what was that? Of course, I was so curious that I stopped a couple of young people and asked. Malta 99 is simply a group of young people who are turning 20 this year and are taking part in the tradition of passing from youth to adulthood.

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There I could see that the village is young, there were lots of boys and girls wearing Malta 99 shirts and standing on tractors.

It's incredible to see how happy everyone is, the parents and families hugging their children as if it were a real graduation. Congratulations Malta 99, may you all be very successful on your new journey.

Christmas tent in Penamacor


Well, if we're talking about a Christmas tradition, let's also talk about the attractions for Christmas in Penamacor.
And, of course, Penamacor is also bringing lots of other things for this Christmas. We went around the town looking for activities for the kids before the famous parade of tractors to the wood.
We had a lot of fun in the Christmas tent. It was there that we found guaranteed fun for the little one.

Old toys


In the Christmas tent we found many stands, and the one that caught our eye the most was the antique toy stand!
We were welcomed by António SupicoHe had the greatest patience in the world, introducing all the old toys to the little one.

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We played spinning tops, knock-knock games and much more! Emmanuel was able to learn how to make his own spool of thread cart, a little more modern, all made from reusable wood and soap. It was a sensational morning and Emmanuel learned a little about the toys of his grandparents' time.

Workshops and bounce houses

We left the tent and soon came across the elves, every weekend there is a different workshop and this time it was Christmas cupcakes! Emmanuel made his in high spirits, a beautiful red and white Christmas wreath, it was beautiful!
As soon as he had finished, he went to the chair next to him and painted his face. He chose a Christmas tree, which, by the way, was a struggle to remove; he wanted to leave it forever as a tattoo. He proudly showed everyone that he had a Christmas tree on his face.

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The little one loves this time of year and everything about Christmas, and we want to make this phase last as long as possible.

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Cupcake done, beautiful drawing on his face and something caught his eye, a huge inflatable that imitated a castle, think of the child's joy? That's where he spent all his energy. He jumped, climbed, fought with the warriors and that's how lively his morning was.

Christmas in Penamacor

Although Penamacor is a small town, its Christmas is gigantic and we could see the care that goes into everything, every stand, every animation, every musical performance and the whole atmosphere. It was great to get a taste of Christmas. But I've often said that Madeiro is driven by music and I haven't written about any of it, have I?

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Beira Interior Mixed Choir

I'm going to start by talking about the award-winning Beira Interior Mixed Choir, which, by the way, I've never seen anything like!
When we think of choirs, we think of something static, with beautiful music being sung, but almost no performance at all. We actually saw the choir in a church and everything seemed normal, until... WOW! First of all, the repertoire is beyond incredible and I understood why there were so many titles after hearing them. If you want to feel this emotion, press play on the video:

There was Queen, fado and much more, I was moved to tears by every song, and the little one, who loves opera, relaxed so much that he fell asleep to the sound of angels.

And at the end, a beautiful surprise: the body becomes a musical instrument and the performance goes up a level, simply sensational.

Khaganiço Orchestra

Another happy surprise was the guys from Khaganiço OrchestraWhile we were walking to see the Madeiro de Penamacor, we had a brief musical encounter! Everyone dressed up as Santa Claus singing songs, full of brass instruments, I love an orchestra! The sound of the voice came out of a megaphone and I thought it was a very original idea.

I moved on to the parade of tractors and, to my surprise, it was they who were in front, singing more music and cheering everyone up! I said that the wood was moved by a lot of music, it was simply magnificent.

Where to sleep in Penamacor

For this exciting weekend, we stayed in one of the places with the most beautiful views in Penamacor, that's for sure! Casas da Penha.
Sunsets are the most beautiful thing and the desire to leave was inversely proportional to the pinkness of the sky.

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Anyone who follows me knows how crazy I am about sunsets and sunrises, and the one there is simply MAGNIFICENT! It's worth a visit, even if you're not staying there.

MADEIRO DE PENAMACOR BEIRA BAIXA CRISPELWORLD CHRISTMAS IN PORTUGAL16 CASAS DA PENHA POR DO SOL
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But if the sunset caught my eye, wait until you enter one of the Casas da Pena. An old traditional house that looks modern inside. With its bold design, it's a real home for family travelers.

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Our room at Casas da Penha

Not actually a room, a house! The house has a living room, kitchen, bed and bathroom. Everything a family needs! I love having the freedom to do whatever is necessary for the little one and anyone who travels as a family knows that a stove often makes a difference.

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The sofa in the living room became a bed for the little one, which, being on a lower level than our bed, gave us total freedom and privacy as a couple.

The bed is very comfortable, with those blankets that I can't get enough of, so fluffy that they hug you, lulling you to sleep.

Daylight is very well prohibited, and if you want to sleep late, that's entirely possible, but don't forget to open the window in the side door and enjoy the view. That's where the beautiful sunsets appear!

Where to eat in Penamacor

Two Pines Restaurant

The restaurant is an attraction in its own right. We had lunch and dinner here, and it's hard to say which meal I preferred.
For lunch there were lots of delicious starters, along with tender lamb and well-seasoned potatoes, and for dinner there was bean rice, which I confess is my weakness, with delicious grilled meats.


Undoubtedly the best thing about the restaurant is the seasoning, everything is so delicious that in none of the meals did I eat just once, I repeated and ate more! Laughs.
The desserts are to die for!

Encosta Muralha Restaurant

The previous day, before arriving in Penamacor to learn about the tradition of the madeiro, we got to know a bit about Natal Branco in Castelo Branco.
The cities are only 50 km apart and, due to their proximity, we ended up having dinner there.
For starters, delicious mushrooms and soup. Then came the main course, codfish! Why do we eat so well in Portugal?

Castelo Branco

Our trip through Beira Baixa began in Castelo Branco, where we got to know Natal Branco.

Although it was only a short visit, we were able to see a bit of the city and how beautiful it is!

We took a ride on the train and saw that this year they've put a lot of effort into the Christmas decorations and lights.

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Then we went to the Christmas Tent and the magic of Christmas is so great that we saw snow! Even though it wasn't real snow, it amused the little ones. We spent a few minutes there, jumping and playing.

Soon afterwards we entered the tent and saw that even Santa Claus from Castelo Branco is white! His clothes are so beautiful and the decorations are jaw-dropping, I'd like to reproduce everything at home.

Children always have their place


As usual, children are not forgotten and there is an area where elves color with the kids.

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We continued our visit and saw more surprises, a whole mini city of sweets? Or a gigantic table? How about a reproduction of the North Pole? And more activities to keep the kids entertained.

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What I find incredible about Portugal is that the children are very sweet and the vast majority of activities are free.

We got to know Castelo Branco very quickly, but it was enough to make us want to come back!


What about you? Which Christmas decorations or traditions in Portugal do you still want to see? If possible, I'd like to visit this incredible country from north to south.
And this was a Christmas trip, I loved taking part in the assembly of the wood in Penamacor! In the meantime, I want to go back and get to know the two beautiful cities better.

See what Christmas is like in Portugal's most diverse cities, by clicking here

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