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Portugal Day

| PORTUGAL |

Today we celebrate Dia de Portugal, when this country on the coast of the Iberian peninsula celebrates its history, its people, and its great national poet Luís de Camões, author of the epic Os Lusíadas, published in 1572. Relating the tale of Portuguese navigator Vasco Da Gama’s search for a trade route to India, the poem stands as a tribute to Portugal’s proud history of seafaring exploration.

When is Portugal Day?

Portugal Day, officially known as Dia de Camões, de Portugal e das Comunidades Portuguesas ('Day of Camões, Portugal, and the Portuguese Communities'), commemorates the death of Luís de Camões on June 10th 1580. It is Portugal's National Day.

Who Was Luis Vaz de Camões

Camões was an adventurer who lost one eye fighting in Ceuta, wrote the poem while traveling, and survived a shipwreck in Cochinchina (a region of present-day Vietnam).

History of Portugal Day

Camões wrote the Lusiadas, Portugal's national epic celebrating the country's history and achievements. While it is only officially celebrated in Portugal, Portuguese descendants across the world may also celebrate the holiday.

The Lusiadas focuses on the Portuguese explorations in the 16th century, which greatly expanded the influence of Portugal. The poem is considered to be the most important piece of Portuguese literature and has become a symbol for the glory of the Portuguese nation.

Camões was a colourful character. He lost one eye fighting and was shipwrecked off the coast of present-day Vietnam.

According to legend, during the shipwrecking, he kept his epic poem dry by swimming with one arm and keeping the other arm above water.

In the year that Camões died, Portugal lost its independence to Spain and began a period of rule by three generations of Spanish kings. It was over 60 years before the country regained its independence.

For such national days, it is common practice to use a date of birth to mark the national day, but since Camões' date of birth was not known, the date of his death is celebrated instead.

There are official celebrations involving the President, Prime Minister and other high ranking people. Awards/Honors are given out and there is a military exhibition.

During the rule of the Portuguese authoritarian regime up to 1974, Camões was used as a symbol for the Portuguese 'race' by the nationalists. Because of that, the June 10th celebrations were officially suspended during the Carnation Revolution in 1974, resuming as a more inclusive celebration including commemorating Portuguese communities around the world.


Recently it has become a custom to split Portugal Day celebrations between a city within Portugal and a foreign city with a significant Portuguese presence (Rio de Janeiro or Paris, for example).

Canada

On November 8th, 2017, the House of Commons unanimously passed Davenport M.P. Julie Dzerowicz’s Private Member’s Bill M-126, declaring June as Portuguese Heritage Month and June 10 as Portugal Day in Canada. M-126 recognizes the contributions that Portuguese-Canadians have made to Canada and the importance of educating and reflecting upon Portuguese heritage and culture for future generations. This now opens these occasions to being recognized and celebrated at a national level instead of only by municipalities or provinces.

In Toronto, Ontario, over 200,000 Portuguese-Canadians celebrate by holding a multitude of events surrounding the 10 June date. The week-long festival culminates with the Portugal Day Parade on Dundas Street, in the area known as Little Portugal. The parade ends near Trinity Bellwoods Park, where concerts, cultural events and various other activities take place. The Portugal Day Parade is Toronto's third-largest street festival and first celebrated in 1966

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Text adapted from Office Holidays and Google Inc.

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