Pão por Deus: “Trick or Treating” on All Saints Day in Lisbon

Trick or Treat? – By Chris Devers

They don’t have trick-or-treating on Halloween in Lisbon, but there is a similar tradition that occurs on All Saints Day, November 1st, called  Pão-por-Deus. Instead of asking “Trick or Treat” Portuguese children go door to door asking, “Ó tia dá bolinho!?”(Originally – “Ó tia dá Pão por Deus?”) Literally – does auntie have any cookies? Traditionally the children would get bread from the neighbors and shop owners they visited, though it is now sometimes substituted for cookies, change or candies. This also leads to the other name for the holiday, “Dia de Bolinho.” Kids collect goodies in special drawstring bags, saquinhos, that are often decorated with embroidery or patches. Unlike Halloween, children go asking for Pão por Deus before noon (no costumes are involved, either).

November 1st, in addition to being All Saints Day, is also particularly known in Lisbon as the day of the destructive  1755 earthquake. This particular event is seen as triggering the Pão por Deus tradition, as the city was  devastated and people had to go asking for food.  The first Pão por Deus was held the following year, and continues today, though there is increasing influence form “Halloween”-type traditions. The holiday is most popular around Lisbon, but has also expanded to Brazil.

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