5 things to know about Portugal - a unique country in Western Europe

In January 2015, the Portuguese parliament approved a law allowing the descendants of Spanish Jews expelled from the country to apply for citizenship. Spain also passed a law of its own that year, but the law is somewhat complicated and vague compared to the simple and clear Portuguese law that candidates should "demonstrate a traditional connection to a community originating in the Portuguese Sephardim" through testimonies such as the surname or language spoken by the family (Ladino).

Documents produced by legal or religious bodies, family tree, photographs, letters and even recordings of Ladino language are acceptable to the authorities and allow for the acquisition of citizenship or the issuance of a Portuguese passport. Once the required certificates are obtained, the candidates are on the right track, and within six months they will receive citizenship.

If you also consider yourself eligible to receive citizenship and take out a Portuguese passport to work, study or live there, here are a few things to know about the traditions and culture of Portugal:

Dance and singing - a long tradition of dancing and singing characterizes the people of Portugal. Almost every village has a terreiro, a courtyard or a dance floor, usually from concrete, although in some places an extension is still made of pressed earth. Each area has its dance and singing style. Most of the traditional songs are slower than those in Spain. Small accordions or bagpipes are part of the instruments that accompany the dances. Portuguese guitars accompany Fado (a romantic song).

National costume - In the northern province of Minho, you can still see people dressed in national costumes, weddings, and other celebrations. You can even see traditional clothing in Portugal like the red and green dome, the Samarra (a short coat with fox fur necks), or the cifões (leather riding pants) that have survived over the years. Oxen or mules drew rural plows, and small farmers still use wooden carts. Wearing a black garment for extended periods of mourning is widespread, but mostly in the villages.

Eating habits - Supermarket chains have changed eating habits in cities and urban areas. In the areas outside of these cities, favorite food includes fish, vegetables, and fruit. Beaches with fresh fish surround Portugal, and its inhabitants salivate and dry the cod, a dish considered a national cuisine.

A seafood stew called Cataplana (named after the oyster-style clamshell in which the fish is cooked) can be found all over the country. Large portions do not eat meat, but you can enjoy a dish made with meat and vegetables called Cozido a Portuguesa. Bread, cakes, and sweets are abundant in different regions of Portugal.

Architecture - Portugal boasts dozens of medieval castles as well as Roman ruins and fortresses. The Romanesque and Gothic styles gave Portugal some stunning cathedrals, and toward the end of the 16th century a national style - Art Manuelina - was created, a synthesis that created a wealth of simple, perfect decorations. Notable examples are the elegant Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon or the Lisbon Cathedral.

Music - Religious music has dominated Portugal in the past. In the Middle Ages, the secular tradition of troubadour poetry became very popular. Polyphonic music, many voices singing together in harmony, was developed in the 15th century and the Renaissance added a wealth of compositions to solo instruments and vocal ensembles. Lisbon has a metropolitan orchestra and the San Carlos National Theater in Lisbon, built in the 18th century, has its orchestra and ballet.