Portuguese Christmas Eve

At midnight you would carry the baby Jesus, the oldest child first, to the tree and put it into the crib.

'Christmas is a Catholic celebration. On Christmas Eve we eat around 5pm - Portuguese bread, olives and cheese, and bacalhau (salted cod) - then we go to church for midnight mass.' Grace

'We light candles to bless my family, and for me.' Rose Mary

'After church we come home and eat chicken soup - it's cold in Portugal, so it's traditional here - and open our presents. We eat the soup out of coffee cups - in Portugal there are special mugs - with home made bread from the Association. After midnight we all call each other. There's lots of phoning of friends and family. When my mum was alive we would to go to her house and sing and pray. At midnight you would carry the baby Jesus, the oldest child first, to the tree and put it into the crib. Rose Mary did it first, then Elizabeth when she was old enough. Now we just do the Christmas tree. I put lights around the baby Jesus in the crib and let the kids decorate it and put it near the tree. I also make broas de mel and bolo de mel - cakes made from dark honey and decorated with almonds and walnuts for the celebration.' Grace

Grace and her family go to a lot of trouble to decorate their house for Christmas. They don't always have a Christmas tree: instead the children bring all kinds of treasures to make a special place in the lounge room where the baby Jesus has pride of place.

Each member of the family takes responsibility for a different meal over Christmas. Grace usually cooks for Christmas Eve.