Our Portuguese Tradition

My family is Portuguese and every year we have a “Bolo Rei” (direct translation is King Cake) on Christmas day.

The cake is traditionally baked round with a hole in the middle, the idea is that it looks like a crown with lots of crystallized and dried fruits and nuts — think Three Kings. It’s baked with one fava bean inside of it. Everyone must have a slice of cake (yuck… I’m not a fan, but also not a party pooper) and if you’re the lucky one to get the slice with the fava bean, next year it’s your turn to buy the cake!


I think this is a really fun tradition which secretly I think is just a way to get people to actually eat the Portuguese fruit cake. I don’t really know anyone of my generation who actually likes it. What I really think is fun is that my mom told me that when she was a little girl the bakeries used to bake an actual gold ring into one of their cakes. She said that it was a nice incentive to get people to buy their cakes. Who wouldn’t like to get jewellery in a slice of cake?

  • Tracey

    That is a wonderful tradition Sandy – Even it we don’t like the cake – i have tried it before and agree…. not something i would want to eat at every occasion – it does make it fun!!Happy holidays to you!

    • Anonymous

      It is a really nice tradition. I love Christmas! 

  • Acknowledgeyourself

    Hi, Sandy,

    your generation and I line it :)

    cake used to have a metal prize inside but it was forbidden some years ago
    (maybe 10/15) for safety reasons. It seems that some people would break teeth
    or, worse, choke with them :(

    A big
    difference between the Canadian and the Portuguese Christmas is that we open
    presents on the 24th, at midnight

    • Anonymous

      Yes for sure! My family still opens presents on Christmas eve, but since I’ve had kids I let them open a few on the 24th and then the rest on Christmas morning. They get presents from Santa, but my mom never did that. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/michelle.m.cruz.58 Michelle Martins Cruz

    So nice to see this story on here.  I grew to like it!  I once was hired by Caldense Bakery on New Year’s Eve to make them and I got turned off by them for years….try it toasted with a little butter on top.  YUM!! I miss the “brinde” (little golden trinket that used to come inside). It was so much fun as a kid anticipating getting it. Oh well!

    • Nick Eliades

       I love it toasted too but with ALOT of butter!!

    • Anonymous

      A golden trinket is much nice than a fava bean! :)

  • Cabralies

    Hey sandy,

    Our family wasn’ t brought up with that tradiction… We always heard about the portguese from the continent doing that and eating the ” bolo do rei”… Which always sounded fun to he a part of we just had ” mosa”.. Sweet bread which we all love.. As is or toated with butter :)

    • Anonymous

      Oh I love the sweet bread!!!! YUM!

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