What is Portugal Day on June 10?

Written By Lara Silva

Portugal Day is a national holiday in Portugal that is celebrated annually on June 10th, the day of the death of poet Luis de Camões. This day pays tribute to Portugal, the Portuguese people, the Lusophone culture, and the Portuguese presence worldwide.

June 10th initially started as a municipal holiday in Lisbon, dedicated to Camões, and was later elevated by the Estado Novo regime to a national holiday, known as the Day of Camões, Portugal, and the Portuguese “Race.”

The latter celebrated the colonies and how they all belonged to one Portuguese “race,” making it once a very nationalistic holiday in the dictatorship.

After the April 25th Revolution, this day came to be known as the Day of Portugal, Camões, and the Portuguese Communities. It is now celebrated in Portugal and all over the world, such as Canada and the United Kingdom.

History of Portugal Day

During the Estado Novo (1933 – 1974), June 10th was celebrated as the Day of Camões, Portugal, and the Portuguese “Race.” Salazar made it a nationalistic holiday that glorified the colonies.

Since Camões was an emblematic figure associated with the Age of Discoveries, due to his text called Os Lusiadas, the regime used him to celebrate the Portuguese colonies. Not only that but the idea of a great nation spread throughout the world with a common language.

However, Salazar didn’t create the holiday. Before the Estado Novo, it was already a municipal holiday known for the Day of Camōes and Portugal. During the inauguration of the National Stadium of Jamor in 1944, Salazar created the last part of the “Portuguese Race.” 

A year after the Carnation Revolution, this holiday became known as the Day of Portugal, Camões, and the Portuguese Communities. This holiday has been celebrated all over the world in different cities with activities and parades, such as in Canada and the United Kingdom.

2023 Portugal Day Celebrations 

This year, the President has said that the Portugal Day celebrations will take place in Peso da Régua in Portugal and in South Africa. In January, the government built a commission to take care of the celebrations, led by João Nicolau de Almeida and others. Peso da Régua was chosen as the main celebration site as the Douro was designated the European Wine Capital in 2023.

Who was Luis de Camōes?

Considered one of the Portuguese language’s greatest poets, Luis de Camoes’ skill has been compared to the likes of Shakespeare and Dante. The 16th-century poet is mostly remembered for his work Os Lusiadas, which describes Vasco da Gama’s discovery of the sea route to India, a text that is read by most Portuguese in school.

Statue of Luis de Camoes at Jardim Marques de Pombal, Oeiras, Portugal. Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simoes (Flickr)
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