Today is Portugal Day – celebrated worldwide
Portugal Day, or more properly ‘Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas,’ is a national holiday celebrated annually on June 10th.
Although officially observed only in Portugal, Portuguese citizens and emigrants throughout the world celebrate the day as it commemorates the death of national literary icon Luís de Camões in 1580.
Camões wrote Os Lusíadas, Portugal’s national epic poem celebrating Portuguese history and achievements.
The poem focuses mainly on the C15th Portuguese explorations which brought fame and more importantly, riches into the country. The poem is considered one of the most important works in Portuguese literature and became a symbol for the great feats of the Portuguese Empire.
Camões was an adventurer who lost one eye fighting in Ceuta, wrote the poem while travelling, and survived a shipwreck in Cochinchina, present-day Vietnam. According to folklore Camões saved his epic poem by swimming with one arm while keeping the other arm above water. Since his date of birth is unknown, the date of his death is celebrated as Portugal’s National Day.
Although Camões became a symbol for Portugal nationalism, his death coincided with the Portuguese succession crisis of 1580 that resulted in Philip II of Spain claiming the Portuguese throne. Portugal was then ruled by three generations of Spanish kings during the Iberian Union (1580–1640).
On December 1st 1640, the country regained its independence by expelling the Spanish during the Portuguese Restoration War and making João of Bragança, King João