Initially influenced by the gods of pagan cultures during the pre-Roman centuries, like Spain, Portugal eventually followed the path of Catholicism. However, unlike Spain, Roman Catholicism in Portugal was blended with folk practices, spiritualism, and a tendency to revere Saints rather than a direct relationship with God.
In Portugal, God and his Saints were seen as loving and serene, full of forgiveness and not maniacally focus on suffering as the path to heaven. Religious practice also took on a more regional character with strong church attendance in the North and less than 15 % attendance in the South. The practice of religion in Portugal has shown striking regional differences. In modern times, metropolitan centers like Lisbon have less than 30% regularly going to church. Even in the villages where the Church was once the center of the village and decorated with gold leaf, today you find many of those churches in disrepair.
In Portugal, a great deal of the religious experience incorporates folk practices such as witchcraft, pagan festivals, and worship of Saints as intermediaries to God - so much so that the church now recognizes these practices and participates in village life along side of some of them.
As a case in point, the most famous religious celebration in Portugal has been a celebration of the vision of the Virgin Mary to three children in the village of Fatima in 1917. The worship of the Virgin Mary as "Our Lady of Fatima" far overshadows the worship of God in this small village in the district of Santarem and it has led hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to visit the Shrine at Fátima each year, many in the hope of receiving healing.
While better education and a migration to the cities has lessened the hold of these folk beliefs, you will still find ample sorcerers, palm readers, and Taro ships throughout Lisbon. In Portugal and remnants of its colonies, a strong undercurrent of superstition still remains.
As you plan your trip to Portugal, you will need to pack based on the regions you plan to visit. Topography, latitude and proximity to the ocean affect the climatic condition of various regions.
Portugal is basically divided into three parts;
- Mainland Portugal
- Madeira Archipelago
- Azores Archipelago
- Hot and dry Summers.
- Sunny and comfortable Autumns.
- Mild Winters with little snow.
- Sunny and comfortable Spring
- Subtropical weather with mild temperatures all year long.