8 Portuguese-Inspired Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

Written By Mihaela Gutu

Have you booked your tickets to Portugal for Valentine’s Day this year? That’s great, you’ve made an excellent choice! We’re sure you’ll return home from your mini-holiday with some truly unforgettable memories!

If you haven’t chosen a gift for your significant other, we’re coming to your rescue! There’s no need to buy something before leaving for Portugal. You can find the perfect gift on the spot. Even more so, it will have a Portuguese touch and remind you both of your romantic getaway in Portugal.

So why don’t we get down to business?! Keep reading to find 8 Portuguese-inspired Valentine’s Day gift ideas that you’ll absolutely love! We’re sure your significant other will appreciate them just as much as they’re proof of how much effort you’ve put into finding them!

1. Paint Your Own Azulejos

If you’re spending Valentine’s Day in Portugal, you simply have to paint your own azulejo tile! Anyone who has at least once visited Portugal knows it’s a country of tiled buildings, each with its unique design that somehow still contributes to the country’s architectural uniformity.

Well, imagine spending an afternoon with your significant other painting your own tile! You can paint something symbolic for your relationship that will stand as a tangible memory of your Valentine’s Day in Portugal.

You can look for local tile manufacturers, as they sometimes offer tourist programs and allow you to paint your tile for a small fee. For example, you can go to Azulejos de Azeitão. It’s located very close to Lisbon, only about half an hour away. You’ll be able to see and learn first-hand about the process of creating azulejo tiles and then have an amazing time mastering your own handicraft technique!

However, you must consider the fact that you probably won’t be able to take the tiles with you right away, as they have to be burnt at high temperatures before being ready. The staff will likely ask for an address to ship them when they’re done. Once your handmade tiles arrive, you can use them as home decor – always there to remind you of your quality time together!

Azulejo Tiles in Porto. Photo by Serge Le Strat (Unsplash)

2. Filigree Jewelry

Have you ever heard of filigree jewelry? It’s a form of metalwork of gold and silver created using threads, which are arranged in artistic motifs.

It is believed that the filigree “method” dates from as early as 3,000 BC, originating from Mesopotamia. In the Iberian Peninsula, archaeological finds point to 2,000-2,500 BC as the earliest period of filigree production.

In Portugal, the method started being used extensively in the 8th century, and, compared to Spain, where the tradition started becoming increasingly less relevant, Portuguese people perfected it. The filigree jewelry-making tradition still stands as one of the country’s most valued treasures and arts, having acquired, over the years, unique motifs and shapes.

As such, offering your significant other filigree jewelry is possibly the most thoughtful and inspired Valentine’s Day gift that bears a Portuguese touch.

If you’re in Lisbon, you can check out Joalharia do Carmo located on R. do Carmo 87B. The shop’s handmade jewelry pieces stand as a bridge between the art of jewelry-making and the country’s most iconic cultural and historical aspects.

You can also find a Joalharia do Carmo shop in Obidos and Ponta Delgada.

3. Heart of Viana Necklace or Earrings

The heart of Viana is a highly valued symbol in Portugal. It was first created in the 18th century at the request of Dona Maria I, the Queen of Portugal between 1777 and 1816, after she had given birth to her son. The heart of Viana was crafted in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

At first, this crowned golden heart had religious connotations only. It also pointed to the connection between the mother and the child. The heart symbolizes female fertility, while the rounded shape surrounded by the so-called crown is the link between the child in the womb and the mother.

Over the years, however, it gained more and more popularity, having become a symbol of love, faith, and friendship. Offering your significant other a heart of Viana necklace or piece of earrings stands as evidence of your commitment to the relationship and appreciation for the traditional Portuguese culture.

4. Lenço dos namorados

The Lenço dos namorados tradition, which translates as Valentine’s (or lover’s) handkerchief, originates from Vila Verde, Portugal. It is believed that the first handkerchiefs of this kind date from the 19th century. They were handcrafted by women and given to their lovers who would keep them as symbols of commitment when they were apart.

Sometimes, these handkerchiefs were offered as a kind of courtship ritual. A woman put her soul into crafting it and subsequently offered it to the man she intended to start a relationship with. If the man agreed to the relationship, he wore the handkerchief in public. If he did not want to be in a relationship, he returned the handkerchief.

These handkerchiefs weren’t simply proof of women’s embroidery talents. They embroidered various symbols, quotes, verses, dates, or names. Some of the most common symbols were keys, hearts, doves, crosses, and even agricultural motifs like baskets or parting symbols like ships or doves with letters.

Today, some people return to the art of lenço dos namorados, relying on them as proof of their love and appreciation, offering such handkerchiefs as Valentine’s Day gifts. You can either create one yourself if you’re passionate about handicrafts or buy one, as there are plenty on the market with various motifs and verses. It will definitely make for a unique gift that will surprise your partner!

5. A Swallow as a Symbol of Love

Once you explore a few souvenir shops in Portugal, you’ll find yourself wondering what’s with the swallows… Well, this story takes us back to 1891, when Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro, one of Portugal’s most well-known and widely recognized artists, created some ceramic swallows. Did he know back then that these swallows would survive for more than a century as a pillar symbol of Portuguese culture?

Considering that the swallow, a migratory bird, always returns to the same place to nest and, besides this, mates for life, it’s unsurprising that people have come to associate the bird with family, home, love, and loyalty.

As such, it has become one of the most symbolic gifts lovers exchange. So, if you want to show your partner how much light and tranquility they bring into your life, pick a ceramic swallow! It will serve as proof of your commitment and appreciation.

6. A Cork-Made Gift

Yet again – if you’re looking for souvenirs in Portugal, you quickly start asking yourself why cork is so popular in Portugal. Cities are filled with cork-made products – bags, shoes, hats, coasters, wallets, and whatnot.

The thing is – Portugal is actually the world’s largest producer of cork. The other thing is – cork-made products are sustainable, as no trees are cut down or damaged in the process.

So, if you’re looking for a unique, Portuguese-inspired, eco-friendly gift, don’t hesitate to choose something made of cork. Luckily, there are plenty of choices on the market for any preferences!

7. Espresso Cups

Once you set foot in Portugal, you become increasingly aware that locals have mastered the espresso-drinking tradition. You can master it yourself in no time, even if you’ve never liked espressos! That’s how tasty Portuguese coffee is!

So why not look for a quality set of espresso cups (go for handmade ones if the budget allows it!) as a Valentine’s Day gift for your significant other? You’ll bring back the espresso-drinking habit to your home country (that is, if this hasn’t already been a tradition, depending on where you’re from) and spend a few minutes every morning together, immersing yourself in happy memories of your Valentine’s Day spent in Portugal!

8. A Literary Gift

Is your significant other a literature enthusiast? Luckily, Portugal has given rise to quite a few literary geniuses!

You can go for a new edition of one of the country’s most acknowledged authors like Jose Saramago or Fernando Pessoa. If you want to go the extra mile, however, find an older or even first edition of their most famous works.

Even if it’s in Portuguese and your partner won’t understand it – the book will make for an awe-striking gift for any bibliophile! The mere fact that they’ll hold it in their hands will be a breathtaking experience. But taking it back home, finding it a perfect spot on the bookshelf – a true delight!

Casa de Fernando Pessoa. Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões (Flickr)
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