The initial idea of a short and quick interview was just to have the opinion of a recognized interior designer about Christmas decorations and traditions. But Gracinha Viterbo's responses are a reflection of personal tastes and very familiar family rituals. We took advantage of the sharing and entered its universe.
When it comes to the decoration of the holiday season, what do you think are the typical Portuguese traditions?
I am a rebellious girl when it comes to traditions. As much as I was always thrilled with traditional Christmas decorations, worthy of a full description of a Sophia de Mello Breyner children's book, I have always resorted to creativity in my home when it comes to Christmas decorations, and have tried to invent our own traditions. . As I always do "timeless, handcrafted but with a current twist".
From Portuguese traditions I love natural pine, I usually have more than one – from a set of miniatures in the dining room, to a large with branches, not straight but wild, that take up space. I like the poetry of imperfect pines, small warm-lit candle lights, wreaths – also traditional, but prefer wild and natural mixed with pheasant feathers, moss, pomegranates, and some "pampas herbs", wild eucalyptus, pine cones and some rebellious touches like one or two brightly colored neon tubes here and there. In my house traditions never follow to the letter … My Christmas tree has no traditional decoration, has been, for 15 years, full of photographs and has been growing each year with the best memories of that year, since my first son was born.
But back to the traditions… In my store – Cabinet of Curiosities – seeing accessories as typical as lead soldiers and beautiful glass accessories, painted at the world's oldest factory of hand-painted blown glass Christmas accessories, as well as very modern David Bowie-faced accessories or 80's cassettes Unlikely mixtures but, as I believe in unique identities, I try not only to practice what I believe, but to have it available in my Cabinet for those who think like me.
For me the tradition of Christmas is above all the feeling of unity and sharing, whatever identity it is and in that, we Portuguese have always been, still are and hope we always will be, linked to the central idea of family be it blood or friends , mutual help, union and sharing. What always remains in the Portuguese Christmas.
Are there new elements from other cultures or countries that have been incorporated into Portuguese Christmas traditions today?
The wreaths at the door, increasingly attention and taste in flowers and Christmas plants, the wildest and most natural decorations with unlikely mixtures of wild eucalyptus, feathers, and dried leaves. Less classic, but as poetic and magical as the era calls for.
What about court traditions that got lost. Are there any that you identify in particular?
For me the most beautiful thing that has been lost is the groups of people and children who knocked on the door and sang Christmas songs from house to house … there is still, but very little. Christmas more than decorations and gifts is about unity, laughter, sharing memories and the warmth of the family, be it blood or friends. Listening to these groups knocking and singing always filled my heart with a magic that only Christmas brings.
Tell us a Christmas tradition you inherited from your family and keep today with your children?
The Christmas breakfast! One of the highlights of our family that I inherited from my childhood. I have four children and that morning of the 25th is magical. After skipping from family to family on the 24th, which is lively and fun but tiring for a large family, this morning is all ours. The anxiety of seeing if Santa has passed has always left them special messages and makes the morning even more magical. At breakfast we crack crackers and we put paper crowns on the head. Breakfast is pancakes, waffles and all they like … and it's the last day of "elf on the shelf", an American tradition we inherited from our stay in Singapore. This is a Santa's elf who appears on December 1st and makes a fun mistake every day when they wake up (see #elfontheshelf). If they touch him he loses the magic and does not return, on the 25th morning says goodbye to them until the following year.
And now more as a parent (with four children) than as a decorator, which is absolutely indispensable for you in a Christmas home?
Always playing Christmas music, laughter, lit fireplace and always home full of family and friends, smell of crackers and things to be prepared in the kitchen (by my kids when I get home) and our tree full of memories (special pictures of our family life for 15 years) is one of the most special places we have. It is already huge enough to fit the photos and always surrounds itself with people talking about the memories that are there. I imagine old lady with my husband and a giant tree with all the memories we created over the years, one day … in a few good years!
(tagsToTranslate) Cute Viterbo (t) Decoration (t) Christmas (t) Tradition (t) Family (t) Travel