Portugal is the land of passion and fire. Much like its neighbour Spain, it boasts vibrant culture, stunning beaches and gorgeous landscapes with people that worship the sun. Unlike Spain, the Latin vibrancy runs thick in the blood of the people here. There’s just something else in the air, it little bit more urgency, a little bit more thirst for life. Everyone from Portuguese escorts to poets finds themselves under the country’s spell and as Valentine’s rolls around, it’s hardly surprising to learn that the big day is celebrated with vigour here. Unlike dour Holland or sour faced Germany, where over half the population don’t even mark the day, Portugal is alive with little bursts of colour and romance as people let their emotions flow.
It’s a particularly important day for the young people. Although Portuguese culture isn’t as group orientated as, say, Italy’s, it’s still quite rare for couples to spend an entire day together. Generally, most time is spent with friends and those that do couple off still spend much time apart or in the company of others. So this is one of the rare chances that those young couples have to show their feelings without having to worry about prying eyes or giggling friends. They relish it as an opportunity to impress, one day to dazzle and sparkle before their beloved’s eyes, win favour and show the depths of their commitment.
Not that it’s not important for older couples too. After years of marriage or simply being together, many start to drift apart. This is not unique to the Portuguese but it is certainly something that many of them will face. In these situations, it’s important to make an effort on the big occasions and, if the state of the country’s restaurants is anything to go by, most recognise this. A few flowers, a sweet card reaffirming affection, a simple kiss under the starlight can be all it takes to turn the embers of romance into a smouldering fire once more.
Even those abroad are unmistakable. Their passion burns with a spirit that few could fail to recognise; if Valentine’s is the day when British sentimentality is allowed to show, then it is the day when Portuguese desire comes to a boil and threatens to overflow. It’s not unusual to see any men away from home enjoying the company of Portuguese escorts as being alone on Valentine’s is simply not done there. Even those that are single will be with their friends or family. It’s an odd tradition perhaps, but one that reminds us that we are never truly alone. It’s certainly preferable to sitting at home alone with a duvet and a bucket of ice cream...