Essay "What is being Portuguese?"

IV - Literary Award "What is being Portuguese?"

The "Sociedade Histórica da Independência de Portugal (SHIP)" organizes, within the scope of the 380 years of the restoration of the Portuguese Independence, a Literary and Audiovisual Award with the theme "What is to be Portuguese?".

It aims to reinforce ties of belonging to the Portuguese identity, language, and culture, as well as to stimulate the intellectual and artistic creativity of the Portuguese and Portuguese descendants, residing in Portugal or abroad.

Coat Historical Society Independence of Portugal


“What is being Portuguese?”

Literary Prize

"Sociedade Histórica da Independência de Portugal (SHIP)"

Author José Antonio Ribeiro Neto



My name is José Antonio. I am the son and grandson of Portuguese.

I was born and grew up in Brazil, on a farm of my paternal grandfather, where for many years I lived with my large Portuguese family.

My maternal grandparents lived in the city. We went to live next to them after long years living on the farm.

Comparing families

So, now living on the farm or in the city, allow me to draw comparisons between my family and the other Portuguese who immigrated to Brazil as the Italian, Japanese and German.

Living in the city, at school, I could evaluate the customs of other ethnic groups, which gave me a better understanding of Portuguese life.

Visiting Portugal

My first visit to Portugal was exciting, and I could feel in my heart and soul what was so real to me, the life of being a descendant of Portuguese.

In Lisbon, I compared Portuguese life with Brazilian life, be it in talking, eating, talking, dressing, approaching, loving and relating.

I realized how much of it was familiar despite having lived only in Brazil until then.

Being Portuguese is something you learn over time.

From an early age, I realized that my family was different, because the Portuguese blood flows from us, the blood of union and cooperation, of the family, of cultural identity, of peace and harmony.

Portuguese are warriors, life lovers, workers, fighters to give their children the best, as my grandparents and parents have always done.

It takes daily living with family, grandparents, parents, brothers, uncles and cousins. In the taste of Portuguese food, be at the wheel of the conversations, listen to funny jokes of his uncles, spend Christmases and New Years laughing at the stories told by heads of families, hearing cousins trying to entice more young family with their singing.

Being Portuguese is something that feels over time

Something that is in the heart, soul and spirit.

In the way of being, not facing life. In its origins, learnings coming from grandparents, parents and uncles.

In the teachings translated by Portuguese culture in their way of seeing life.

Being Portuguese is a sum of life, knowledge, passed down from parents to children teachings of grandparents to grandchildren, over the generations, transforming the lives of young people in their search for identity, first of all that is the Portuguese identity.

The following best answer this question.

1 - To be Portuguese is to learn from grandparents and family;

2 - To be Portuguese is to express his soul stories and phrases;

3 - To be Portuguese is to have self-criticism, resilience and courage;

4 - Being Portuguese is knowing awakening, collaborate, guide and reinvent itself;

5 - Being Portuguese is to be present in the lives of children and new generations.

1 - To be Portuguese is to learn from grandparents and family;

My Portuguese grandparents had a profound impact on my education.

I grew up listening to their advice, stories and molded phrases from their life experiences.

They faced the Spanish flu at the beginning of the last century, the first and second world wars, global crises such as the crash of the New York Stock Exchange in 1929, lack of jobs, struggling to feed his family, immigration to another country surviving on conditions precarious.

Despite this unequal struggle, kept the family together, setting the stage for future generations

Learning to be Portuguese with my paternal grandparents

My grandmother died before I was born, but her picture on the wall of my grandfather's wooden house accompanies me today, as if I had known her and lived with her all my life.

My grandfather brought from Portugal a taste for literature, culture and knowledge of the world. He was military in Portugal, but became a farmer in Brazil. He was respectful of their partners, sharecroppers, home and neighbors.

He brought with him a love for Portugal and "Figueiró dos Vinhos", a Portuguese parish in the "Leiria" district in the "Beira Litoral" province.

From him I learned about the land, how to cultivate, treat the animals, respecting the time and climate, have patience to see the farm grow and quiet to walk.

In front of the house where we lived, he kept a grape vine. His pruning was proudly given to his friends. I think he talked to her every day to make me miss the land overseas and my grandmother who left very early.

The stories of Portugal were told at night, on the porch of the house, smoking straw cigarettes, looking playfully at the starry sky of the Milky Way that gently bathed our farm with light.

I remember his slow walking along the farm's trails. A rite in thinking, in the relationship with nature, of the Portuguese life from which it had come.

I loved to run around taking something to the Portuguese patricians, on the one hand the "Rodrigues", on the other the "Morgados."

"The farm was located 7 km from the city of "Duartina-SP", from where we could watch the sun rise and set, accompany the moon in its phases, the stupendous Milky Way in the winter months, meteor showers, abundant rain from water bathing plantations, pastures and animals.

Learning to be Portuguese with my grandfather

My paternal grandfather was very cultured, polite and kind.

I learned from him to be a farmer and a good reader. He was a fan of "Eca de Queiroz" and beyond personal books he had brought from Portugal, signed the little magazine Selections of "Reader's Digest" translated into Portuguese.

Sitting on the wooden floor of his house, I used to read the Eca books, flip through and read magazines.

Have you finished reading "The Mandarin"? he said looking me in the eyes.

In addition to having been born and lived for many years on the farm, my holidays and constant visits were filled with the presence of my childhood friends, cousins, uncles, aunts, sharecroppers, home, neighbors and friends in the area.

A Portuguese community strong accent that sank in the customs, food, phrases, jokes, smiles, and Portuguese music.

Game, games of boules, horseback riding, swings in cedar, football, fetch water at the mine, help in cleaning the house, preparing the feasts of the saints and hard work made up for learning.

On the side of the grape vine we had a huge cedar, with a swing made of steel cable, two hoses providing shade to our boules field and a tall coconut tree that attracts birds.

In front of the house was a huge lawn that served as parking, party tents, soccer field, animals mount, racing disputes on a trail leading to the granary of coffee chased by dogs that vibrated in these comings and goings.

My aunt Leonor youngest daughter, witnessing all, taking care of us with immense affection, cooking Portuguese dishes, pulling our ear when needed, rejoicing with their positive attitudes and charismatic.

"Growing up watching and living with my grandfather showed me the importance of being Portuguese, be worship, be calm and patient, able to live and share."

My Grandmother Maria, grandfather José Antonio and the children Elvira and Manoel

The center is my grandfather Jose Antonio and next to the brothers Augusto and Serafim

Learning to be Portuguese with my maternal grandparents

They came from the parish of Penhas Juntas, Vinhais municipality, Bragança district, province of Tras-os-Montes and Douro, northern Portugal.

My grandfather José Elias was calm himself, peaceful and quiet.

Behind this calm was a strategist and a great entrepreneur. He had an emporium and a hotel. One business feeding the other, ideas I learned for the future.

He gave me a lot of attention. After school, I passed the emporium, eat biscuits and sweets Portuguese. At that time they came in cans and were sold per kilo.

When no clients came, he would tell me stories and exploits of when he lived in Portugal. He talked about the wars in Europe, his going to work in France, meeting with my grandmother Leopoldina who challenged her father to marry him, at the time a rare act.

He told me what the land there was like, its small stone houses, the few spaces to plant in the stony soil, the harsh winter and the difficult life they had.

I always considered him a romantic because I perceived in him a charm for life, for his children and especially for my grandmother Leopoldina, a short Portuguese woman with a strong personality and a winning spirit that he did not even risk contradicting

Learning to be Portuguese with my grandmother Leopoldina

She took us to church every Sunday, we went in single file with my sisters and cousins, which I always obeyed according to the rules.

When she came toward my house, I watched and felt immense pride because it demostrava be determined to come and solve any problems they might be.

On Sundays she waited for her children and grandchildren for lunch.

There we were at a large table, eating sardines, cod with potatoes, onions, peppers and tomatoes. And my grandfather serving a good Portuguese wine from the bottle.

Nobody complained about the happiness of being Portuguese.

“To be Portuguese is to have lived with your family, to learn from them the difficulties faced in life. Keep these memories in order to develop them in the future with your children and grandchildren, thus keeping the flame of Portuguese culture and ethnicity alive ”.

Photo below: My maternal grandparents and children.Sitting: My grandfather José Elias and my grandmother Leopoldina.Standing in the background my uncles: Cândida, Lino and my mother Narcisa.Standing in front of my uncles: José, João, Félix, Wilson and Milton

2 - To be Portuguese is to express your soul in stories and phrases

As a grandson and son of Portuguese, I grew up listening to my grandparents' stories.

They were stories of unparalleled sincerity. Stories of wars, travels in Europe, immigration to Brazil, choice of wives, religious, political and sporting convictions, sorrows and joys.

Stories like those of my Leopoldina grandmother, who took us to Mass on Sundays, when she confessed always repeating the same sin that she had borrowed some money from my grandfather.

She always received the absolution of the priest who, tired of the same story, one day sentenced that "taking money hidden from the husband was no longer a sin".

My grandparents transmitted the way of being Portuguese to me like nobody else, synthesizing difficult situations in true and meaningful sentences, sending a solution in seconds.

When pressed thing could hear phrases such as "rays departing you!" or "damn me!" which in the pronunciation sounded like “rails that break you

These stories and original phrases are part of my Portuguese life, I keep as relics representing the longing and love for them.

They emerge unexpectedly in my mind when I am involved in any life situation in which fit.

Some of these phrases, I published in this essay using the expression “as my Portuguese grandfather used to say” because they remind me of this period of life that I was able to live with them.

"Being Portuguese is to express his soul stories and phrases from generation to generation, passing on the gifts of acting, thinking, conduct, love, suffering and develop a life honestly and with hard work."

3 - To be Portuguese is to have self-criticism, resilience and courage

Based on what I learned from my grandparents Portuguese, realized they faced life using three basic principles:

a) Self-criticism

b) Resilience

c) Courage

a) Self-criticism

Being Portuguese is to have self-criticism.

"You're no better than the others" as said my Portuguese grandfather.

Instead of criticizing the world, criticize yourself.

Look inside you. talks too much? Promises more fulfilling? Does not respect the different? You do not know talk to their children? Runs over the humble? Do you think you are superior?

This is definitely not to be Portuguese. We do not learn this with our grandparents and parents. It is not our Portuguese culture.

"Being Portuguese is to have self-criticism. Seek the best for themselves and for others. "

b) Resilience

Being Portuguese is to be resilient.

Resilience is a modern word and perhaps little known by my grandparents Portuguese. But no doubt they use much the word patience.

"You've patience my boy" in the words of my Portuguese grandfather.

Resilience means a person be flexible, have the ability to overcome obstacles.

An appropriate form of resilience is to consider the argument that our attitudes can result in good or bad deeds.

To understand the results of your actions you need to be resilient. Having calmly to deal with the problems overcoming adversity.

"No one is more resilient than the Portuguese, facing life head-on, with calm and patience with the difficulties that arise."

c) Courage

If you are Portuguese know what is being brave.

"Have courage and ride the horse" in the words of my Portuguese grandfather.

Fear is frightening. It breaks trust.

He unexpectedly appears at various stages of life.

Seniors who fall feel afraid to walk. Businessmen bankrupt are afraid to develop new businesses. Players with chronic injuries are afraid to return to play. lost loves become barriers not to fall in love again. Insecure children are afraid to make decisions. And it goes around there.

Courage defies fear

Courage comes when we face fear.

Who is not afraid is not a normal person. Fear accompanies us throughout our lives. He comes and goes daily.

“Coming from Portugal, my grandparents, my mother and brothers crossed the Atlantic Ocean in ships that are not very safe by today's standards. They had courage, but they must have had moments of great fear. ”

Various techniques are used to eliminate the fear. Change behavior, rationalizing the problem, perform simple tasks to gain confidence to perform the most complex. Eespirar, relax, concentrate, cling to God, trying to get rid of anxiety, among others.

“If you are Portuguese, you know that in order to live and take care of your family, you need courage, confidence in yourself, and get rid of fear as quickly as you can. Being Portuguese is to be brave. "

4 - Being Portuguese is knowing awakening, collaborate, guide and reinvent itself

Often in life we find ourselves in difficulties.

They come at inopportune times, change our lives.

We were shocked to realize how fragile we are.

Some situations can be resolved quickly, others take years, and many will not even be resolved.

In our Portuguese family were picked by many storms, the death of my grandmother, loss of older brother with cancer, loss of a young nephew, financial losses in business.

It is sad to go through this. Portuguese life can suffer clashes, but they are always overcome with wisdom and confidence.

Living these problems, I learned how to face these situations, and how I should guide my children with the lessons learned.

Summing up everything I saw and felt with my Portuguese family, I summarized here what made me more Portuguese in four words: Awakening, Collaborating, Orienting and Reinventing Yourself.

1 - Awakening

Being Portuguese is knowing awaken your instinct winner seeking information, guidance and knowledge to find new paths.

Leave behind the sorrows of the past, start over and become a better person seeking a more productive and happy life.

The lessons of life serve as a strength to awaken and face difficulties.

2 - Collaborating

Collaborate with the family and the community to face disasters that happen in life without explanation, without scheduled time and time. In a Portuguese family we learned to collaborate with others to endure complicated situations.

Life can mislead us, but when we receive support, we go through difficult times and move on.

3 - Orienting

If you have children, you know how much you need to know how to guide them.

Provide ideas and suggestions so that they become more confident to change the course of their lives, develop new goals, seek new paths.

My grandparents and parents always guided me when needed.

"Being Portuguese is knowing guide their children, friends and countrymen. Being Portuguese is knowing receive guidance to find new ways. "

4 - Reinventing Yourself

We often have to stop being as we were, and realize that we need to improve, change the way of making and living.

Being Portuguese demands from each of us changes at certain times of life to face the difficulties.

“Being Portuguese means knowing how to review values, rethinking who we are and what we want to be, meeting the unexpected, what we dream of, but have not yet accomplished.”

5 - Being Portuguese is to be present in the lives of children and new generations

Just like my parents got married and had children.

My wife is music and languages teacher. She has a background in classical piano and a BA in English and Portuguese literature.

My daughter is a journalist and my son is an economist.

As received from my grandparents and parents a particular oriented education principles and values of my Portuguese family, I tried to move my children also these principles.

In the same way that my grandparents did with me, my parents took advantage of the coexistence with my children, to tell them stories and exploits of their great-grandparents, of themselves and of Portuguese life here and there.

"Being Portuguese is above all to be able to keep these traditions, the stories told, experiences and transmitted."

Without that, I think we cease to be Portuguese, leaving escape the next generations, this human strength that we carry within us and that characterizes us as special guests.

Developing Portuguese love with your children, directing them to a future life with these concepts and traditions, seems to me to be correct.

I believe that my children can carry on these teachings, and be proud to be Portuguese.

"Being Portuguese is above all be present in the lives of their children and new generations."