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Culture Heritage & Identity

What does it mean to be Portuguese?

What does it mean to be …?

“What does it mean to be …?” is a new small project I decided to launch, it will consist of short essays written by guest writers telling us what it means to be from various European countries. This small project is about identitarianism and European diversity and also a way to give voice to the various followers of Defend Europa from all around the continent.

It is important to remind ourselves how rich Europe is when it comes to the various regional identities, our beautiful European diversity, the good diversity. The first episode will be on Portugal, O Beirão (follow him on Twitter @DuploH) will tell us what it means to be Portuguese.

What does it mean to be Portuguese?

By O Beirão

Being from the most aging region in Europe can be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because you are born in a time capsule, it’s almost like living in another era. Their values, culture and traditions are the same as they were 60, 50 years ago where times were different, you can learn and grow a lot with them. A curse because as the years go by, your townsfolk start slowly aging, your hamlet’s population falls to half the number when you came to the World. It’s the circle of life and it’s up to us, the younger generations to carry on with tradition. Here, however, we have it easier than the rest of Portugal or Europe. The Portuguese old way of life is still very much present here, as a living museum for people not to forget where and how they started, it humbles your soul and reconnects you with reality, a sense of welcoming, more so to natives than to tourists, especially when it brings back some old memories.

Here there is no great replacement, migrants resettled here by Brussels go somewhere else where the pastures are even greener (and so are the bills). However, our culture and people remain intact. It always feels good getting back there. The privilege of knowing we owe to this place a bit of our existence, knowing that we belong to it and it belongs to us. Like a sheltering place, where we can always reconnect with our roots.

Without its roots, a tree slowly dies off. The same for the people. That is why we take it so seriously and insist on keeping them alive no matter what. Every little hamlet and village in Portugal has its own ‘Casa do Povo’, ‘People’s house’ where we 2, 3 times a year have a lunch or dinner for the whole hamlet, to get back to our relatives, to our distant cousins, our townsfolk, our people, know how they are doing, a bit of gossip as it’s usual in small towns, but essentially get back to where it all began, where we come from. The sense of trust and community in the few people that are still there is always present. They may not even be our blood relatives, but we treat them as such. We grew up with them or they’ve seen us grow up, there is a sense of complicity and knowing we can count on them no matter what. Our doors there are open during most of the day and we know most of this would not be possible in big cities where there are so many different people and faces where it’s harder to trust. I’ve lost count to how many times someone left me fruits, jam and other things at my doorstep without even knowing who it was.

For me, being a Portuguese Identitarian means all that. Roots, Trust, shared Identity and Continuity. Our identity, based on our culture, expressed by our language, shaped by our geography on these centuries’ old borders, barely changing through lots of willpower and perseverance across the ages. Whenever we visit our centuries-old monuments, walk around our historic centres, step in our grapes to make our wine or make our dishes or pastries perfected in our monasteries we are paying a homage to those who first fought for and created them, making sure that their accomplishments and way of living will not be forgotten and will be carried on for the times to come.

Our country for those who pay a visit is a trip to the senses too. A simple meal made of (cod)fish or pork with a glass of wine and you’re immersing yourself in Portugal’s culture and history already. Sometimes it’s easy for us Portuguese living here how much rooted we are in our culture, just like fishes swimming underwater which makes me believe that most of us take it for granted. We had it so good for so long that we forgot how we got to be here in the first place. The truth is that our country is already facing the same trends as the rest of Europe in our capital and if we turn away our eyes from our roots, from our way of living as it was passed through generations, we are destined to suffer the same fate the rest of Europe is facing.

In our most aging and rural areas, we carry on with on with our traditions because if we don’t do it, nobody else will, we pick our own side because nobody else will, our sense of community is still present despite decades of individualism which leaves me optimistic for the future but never taking it for granted. Our history through more than 5 centuries of hard-fought Reconquista teach us to never give up no matter what, nothing is lost until no else is standing but that you should also never take our nations as granted. Civilization is a pact between the dead, the living and the ones that are yet to be born. It’s up to you, me and everybody else on this continent to carry on with it, or else it might disappear as many others did. Without identity, there is no continuity and without continuity, there is no identity.

If you are interested in taking part in this project contact Alex Z on Twitter or by mail ([email protected])

Countries already taken: Portugal, France, Montenegro


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