Christmas, besides being a religious holiday that symbolizes the birth of the baby Jesus, is a time specially dedicated to the gathering of family and friends.
There are various traditions alluding to the celebration of this beautiful time of year, but “The Child Mija” is capable of arousing some curiosity. Between the 24th of December and the 6th of January (Dia dos Reis), several groups of men and women go from house to house visiting their relatives and friends, this visit is essentially marked by the tasting of traditional sweets and liqueurs of the time and region. The people who wait for the visits expose on the table of their houses all the best they have to offer. These guests, unexpected or not, before entering the house they are going to visit ask “does the boy piss? This expression automatically means that they are waiting to taste some tasty Christmas sweets and drink some “calzins” – the Azorean expression for drinking glasses of alcoholic beverages.
But the expression means much more than that. It means that people are always ready to welcome their loved ones, opening their doors and sharing everything they have this Christmas season. There is always something to offer. Liqueurs, past figs, oranges, peanut clod, coconut, cayote with mandarin peel and also the typical “chocolatinhos” and Christmas cake. The presence of citrus fruits (orange and tangerine), besides being a great accompaniment after that stronger “calzim”, goes through the importance that these products had during the orange cycle, in the middle of the 18th and 19th centuries, in the economy of the Azores.
Many people still have the tradition of producing their own liqueurs and wait for this time to give it to others. Coffee liqueurs, tangerine, milk, passion fruit, blackberry and anise are some of the most popular.
It is an authentic tradition and it shows the sense of fraternity and sharing of the Azoreans.
*This year, and much due to the pandemic, the tradition of the “menino mija” should not be made in its archaic form, and therefore represents a high risk of contagion. However, among his closest relatives, he will be able to make his visits always bearing in mind the fulfilment of the security recommendations. Let’s say that the “menino mija in mask this year”.