Portuguese Christmas Song

This Christmas song was sent to us from the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores.  It’s sung throughout the Portuguese speaking world.

The carol starts with a child leaving his shoe on the windowsill outside. In Portugal, children do this for the Epiphany (the day that celebrates the Three Kings’ visit to Jesus). Children leave straw and carrots in their shoes in anticipation of a visit from the Three Kings. The kings are the ones who leave gifts for kids in Portugal (like Santa does elsewhere). The carrots and straw in the shoes are for the kings’ horses.

Here’s the video and song lyrics with an English translation…

Deixei Meu Sapatinho

Deixei meu sapatinho,
Na janela do quintal.
Papai Noel deixou,
Meu presente de Natal.
Como é que Papai Noel,
Não se esquece de ninguém.
Seja rico ou seja pobre,
O velhinho sempre vem.
Seja rico ou seja pobre,
O velhinho sempre vem.

I Left My Little Shoe
(English Translation)

I left my little shoe
On the windowsill in the yard,
Santa Claus left*
My Christmas gift.
How is it that Santa
Doesn’t forget anybody?
Whether one is rich or poor,
The old man always comes.
Whether one is rich or poor,
The old man always comes.

*In the version of this song from Azores, this line is as follows: "P’ro pai Natal deixar" (For Father Christmas to leave…).

It’s interesting that Santa and Father Christmas are mentioned in this song instead of the Three Kings.  I asked Judy, who sent us the song, about what the tradition is in the Azores and she wrote:

"I know that within my family it’s Baby Jesus who gives the gifts. Generally, most say that Papi Noel (Santa Claus) brings the gifts. I think it mostly comes down to family values and each island region."

Many thanks to Judy Mongiello for sharing this song with us!

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Saturday, December 1st, 2012 at 8:44 pm and is filed under Brazil, Christmas, Christmas Songs, Countries & Cultures, Epiphany, Holiday Songs, Holidays Around the World, Languages, Portugal, Portuguese, YouTube. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

8 Responses to “Portuguese Christmas Song”

  1. FluteLady Says:

    Thank you for your extensive repertoire! This is a great resource for me in planning my multi-cultural programs at school. Very grateful for your work!

  2. Rogério Maciel Says:

    That’s not true !That’s absolutelly INCORRECT !

    Firstly ,that’s not PORTUGUESE !

    Children are speaking/SINGING IN Brasilian !

    Not IN Portuguese !

    iN pORTUGUESE WE NEVER SAY “papai noel” (???!!!) …What’s that ?!

    In Portuguese , in Portugal , we say PAI NATAL/Father Christmas , including AÇÔRES.

    Secondly , this is not a song from AÇÔRES and most certainly not from Portugal !
    In Portugal Children have their shoes in the Lareira/ Fireplace , where Menino Jesus/infant Jesus and/or Pai Natal/Father Christmas (that’s the real meaning and Translation from Portuguese .Not “santaklaus”.) WILL DESCEND AND PUT the Gifts …

    Usually , the Presépio is over the Fireplace (it can be in other places , but usually in the main place of the house where Familly gathers for Christmas ) , we have the Traditional PRESÉPIO , which is the reenactment of the Holly Birth of Jesus , in litle figures , but very colourfull (and many a times with movement …) and anyone in the familly , can create a different Presépio every year , but keeping the main event always untouched .

    Portuguese Speaking World is only Portugal and our Islands of Açôres and Madeira .

    The other nations speak a Derivation from Portuguese , but not Portuguese .

    And this is a you tube movie from Brasil.

    Not from Açôres , Portugal .

    Ths is not Portuguese Christmas !

    What you present here , is a variation of Castillian Christmas .For them and their children , they focus in the coming of the 3 Oriental kings .
    As you seem not to know , many spaniards have migrated to Brasil also , and let there , their traditions also till today …

    If you want more info about PORTUGUESE/PORTUGAL CHRISTMAS TRADITION , i’ll be happy to send you , but please , never publish things that you are not sure , or that you don’t know nothing about …
    At least you should be able to Distinguish Portuguese Speaking form Brasilian speaking .
    These are two different languages , and Portugal and Brasil have WAY different Cultures !
    Even if Portugal created Brasil , there a Deep Ocean and 200 years of Separation and Difference nowadays !

  3. Lisa Says:

    We would love for you to send info about your traditions. But this song is sung in the Azores even if it’s not from there originally.

    The whole world considers that Portuguese is spoken in Brazil. Here are some links for you to see…

    World Factbook about Brazil – There you can find that the official language of Brazil is Portuguese.

    Brazil – Wikipedia – There you can also find the official language of Brazil is Portuguese. There’s a dialect called Brazilian Portuguese. Here’s what they say about the difference:

    “The degree of difference between the two variants of the Portuguese language is a controversial topic. In formal writing, the written Brazilian standard differs from the European one to about the same extent that written American English differs from written British English.”

    American and British English are both considered to be English, just as Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese are both Portuguese.

  4. Jorge Meira Says:

    You are both right to some extent! Yes in Brasil they speak portuguese, and yes the music is definitely From Brasil! And in Portugal we place the shoes at the fire place at Christmas and not on King’s Day (dia de Reis) 7th of January like in Spain. My wife is from the Azores…
    Only the brazilian refer to santaklaus as papai noel, in Portugal we sai “pai natal” the azores are no exception i’m afraid.
    But the Portuguese speaking world is far more than Portugal, the azores and madeira! There are approximately 240 million people who speak portuguese and the portuguese population only accounts for 11 of those
    But thanks for trying to promote our culture I believe that it must be difficult to distinguish between portuguese from Portugal and from brasil if you don’t speak the language :-)

  5. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for writing Jorge. I think the confusion is that the carol is called Portuguese because it’s in the Portuguese language – not from Portugal. But the person who shared it with us is from the Azores. That person said it’s sung there.

  6. Anabela Says:

    This post not entirely accurate. Particularly and especially the “papi Noel” words

    Those words are not European Portuguese (which we are)
    It’s South American Brazilian Portuguese and not European.

    You should. Parody your incorrect inference that it is

    We Portuguese of European or the islands only refer to Father Christmas as “pai natal” and never ever have said “papi Noel”

  7. Giovanna Cavalcanti Marques Says:

    rogeiro maciel

  8. Ana Says:

    Wow!!! lots of discussion about this song!
    A simple little song about receiving Christmas presents at Christmas time.

    Anyway, I was born in Acores, Portugal. I recognize that “Portuguese’ is spoken in so many countries outside of mainland Portugal and the Acores.

    However, as a little girl, my mother (who is 93 years old Acoriana, Portuguese), used to sing that song to us as children. In fact, she would even sing it during the summer because she wanted us to remember that whether poor or rich, we would be remembered.

    As I remember the song (Acores, Portuguese) is:

    vou Deixei meu sapatinho,
    Na janela do quintal.
    Ou Pai Natal vai deixa,
    Meu presente de Natal.
    Como é que Pai natal ,
    Não se esquece de ninguém.
    Seja rico ou seja pobre,
    O velhinho sempre vem.
    Seja rico ou seja pobre,
    O velhinho sempre vem.

    We would clean our shoes and leave them for Christmas mass in the morning.
    I don’t think we ever followed the tradition (if there is one) of leaving shoes for father Christmas to leave presents in but the song was real and alive in our home in Portugal (Acores) as well as after we immigrated to Canada.
    Perhaps the shoes were a resemblance to leaving stockings. Stockings were not a ‘thing” in traditional Portuguese homes (I asked my mom)..

    As a side note…
    I was wondering if anyone knew that song that you might have been sung as a child by your grandmother (vavo)

    Avo (vavo) Flipipo
    nao da pao a minha avo (vavo)

    Avo (vavo) Flipipo
    varre o chao e deixa o po

    with regards to Brazilian Portuguese, while different, its (to me) still Portuguese…

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