Every 10th day of June, the Portuguese celebrate their national holiday known as Dia de Portugal in the native tongue. The rest of the world recognizes this momentous occasion as Portugal Day. This date commemorates the death of Luís de Camoes (10 June 1580), a significant figure in the history of Portugal. Camoes is best known for his work on Lusiadas, the national epic poem of Portugal that celebrates the nation’s successes and rich history. Although this holiday is only celebrated officially in the homeland, Portuguese citizens from other countries such as India, Brazil, Canada, and other European nations also honor Portugal Day.
Luís de Camoes was known to be an adventurer. Among his many escapades include surviving a shipwreck in the region of Cochinchina (now known as Vietnam), and losing an eye while in battle in Ceuta. Legend has it that in order to save the Lusiadas, Camoes had to keep it afloat with one of his hands, while he used his other arm to swim through the unforgiving waters of the region’s seas. His patriotism and bravery are just a few of the qualities Luís de Camoes had that made the nation chose to celebrate Portugal Day in his honor.
Portugal was conquered by Spain in the year 1580. It is quite ironic that the nation lost its independence in the year that saw the death of Camoes. Three generations and sixty years of Spanish rule after, Portugal regained its independence in Decmber 1, 1640. Since then, the country’s national day was established and subsequently celebrated on June 10. It is because of uncertainties on Camoes’ birth date that Portugal Day was established to commemorate the hero’s death.
The celebrations involve various military ceremonies, exhibitions, concerts, pageants and parades, and an awards ceremony by the President of the Portuguese Republic. Every year, the President chooses a city to host the official celebrations.
Many of the details of Luís de Camões are not known. For example, his birthday is unconfirmed and his birth place is also unknown, though Lisbon, Coimbra and Alenquer are the most common presumptions.
Some of Luís de Camões most ambitious poetry, The Parnasum of Luís de Camões, was lost during his lifetime. There is a great amount of his work that the modern poet enthusiast will never be able to enjoy.
In 1580, Portugal was conquered by Spain. De Camões’ works and Portugal Day could then only become a holiday when the nation regained its independence in 1640.
Portugal is one of the oldest European countries. It was originally founded in 1128, making it one of the oldest European nations still in existence today.