If gift giving is your love language, these 7 ideas will make your Portuguese amor feel the love on Valentine's Day.
Valentine's Day isn't just a romantic celebration in the United States and Canada. In case you weren't sure, Portugal also celebrates Dia dos Namorados on February 14.
For the most part, it's celebrated in a similar fashion to the U.S. and Canada but some Portuguese women maintain one longstanding tradition that dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries — a tradition where heartfelt messages are embroidered onto a handkerchief and given to one's chosen love (jump to read more about the lenço dos namorados).
While we encourage you to get creative and create your own lenço dos namorados this Valentine's Day, here are seven gift ideas in case embroidery isn't your talent.
Lenço dos Namorados - A Portuguese Tradition of Courtship
For over 500 years in the Minho region of Portugal, there has been a custom of women offering men a lenço dos namorados (lovers' handkerchief). Traditionally, the handkerchief was embroidered by a woman who was of marrying age and featured messages or even poems of love surrounded by romantic motifs of hearts, flowers and birds.
She would then present her handkerchief to the suitor of her liking. If he accepted and displayed the handkerchief in public (whether in the pocket of his jacket, on his hat, etc.), that meant that their budding relationship was official. If not, he would return the handkerchief. A little brutal, we think, but certainly leaves no room for mixed signals!
In some parts of northern Portugal such as Braga, people continue to offer a lenço dos namorados as a Valentine's Day gift — a throwback to the original tradition that began in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Amor-Inspired Gifts for Your Valentine
1. Lenço dos Namorados Coffee Mug
You don't have to embroider your own lenço dos namorados to evoke its romantic spirit. Instead, you can give this mug decorated with the traditional motifs that are embroidered on the handkerchiefs.
2. Coração de Viana Gold Necklace
The Coração de Viana (Viana heart) is a Portuguese symbol that originates in the Minho region and is a popular design in Portuguese filigree jewelry. Though its origins aren't tied to love or romance, today it's customary for a mother to pass on her coração de viana to her daughter for good luck when she gets married. The charm on this necklace is a modern take on Portuguese filigree.
3. Lisbon Tram Puzzle
Plan a fun date night at home for Valentine's Day with this puzzle featuring a quintessential Lisbon street and its iconic yellow tram. It doesn't matter if you're a beginner or puzzle pro — it comes in 3 different sizes so you can adjust the skill level for you and your Valentine.
4. Portugal Rainbow Heart T-Shirt
Celebrate love in all of its forms! While Valentine's Day is considered a day for lovers, these days it's becoming common to celebrate all love among all genders, whether it be romantic, platonic, or familial. And if the person you want to celebrate with loves Portugal, this vibrant t-shirt is sure to bring a smile to their face.
5. The Portuguese Letters: Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun
The Portuguese Letters were published in 1669 and were believed to be real letters written by a Portuguese nun to her French lover. Soon after, the book became a scandal because of the clandestine, yet intimate, love affair that they portrayed. Today, it's more widely believed that the letters are fictional but the passion laid bare on its pages remains.
6. I Love You More Than Natas Greeting Card
This greeting card could be the vessel for your very own love note. Or even a love poem. Or if you don't fancy yourself a writer, the message alone could stand on its own, especially if you deliver it alongside a freshly baked pastel de nata! >> Buy pastéis de nata here
7. Eu Te Amo Pillow
Whatever you do this Valentine's Day, don't forget to say "I love you" or "eu te amo" in Portuguese. With this pillow on your bed or favorite chair, you'll have a forever reminder of the love you share with your partner.
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