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Jun 10 2021

10th of June, The National Day of Portugal

Official designation: "Day of Portugal, Camões and the Portuguese Communities"

Portugal is one of the few countries in the world whose national day is dedicated to a cultural element – the alleged day of Luís de Camões's death – rather than to a political or military historical fact.

Luís de Camões is considered the greatest Portuguese (language)'s poet. Author of a considerable amount of lyrical poetry and drama, he is best remembered for his epic work "Os Lusíadas", usually translated as "The Lusiads". In this magnificent epic poem, Camões "sings" with genius and art the Portuguese sailors' first steps towards globalization, by providing a fantastical interpretation of the Portuguese voyages to India and Southeast Asia in the 15th and 16th centuries.

"Os Lusíadas", widely regarded as the most important work of Portuguese literature, is considered to be Portugal's national epic, just as Virgil's "Aeneid" for the Ancient Romans, or Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey" for the Ancient Greeks. It was written when Camões was in the exile in Macau and it was first printed in 1572. The influence of this masterpiece on the Portuguese identity is such that the Portuguese language is very often referred to as the "language of Camões".

The first festivities related to the 10th of June took place in 1880, when through a decree of King Louis I the 300th anniversary of the date pointed out by historians for the death of Luís de Camões (June 10, 1580) was commemorated.

Being celebrated as a "National and Grand Gala Feast Day" since then, it was only in 1924 that the 10th of June gained its national holiday status and in 1952 that it adopted the designation of "Day of Portugal", beginning to be associated with the exaltation of the Portuguese past deeds.

However, it is only after the 25th of April 1974 Revolution (also known as the "Carnation Revolution"), which led to the fall of the Portuguese authoritarian regime, put an end to the Portuguese Colonial War and gave rise to a revolutionary process that would result in a democratic Portugal, that the 10th of June reached its current designation and relevancy.

In 1977, the Portuguese Communities over the world were also added to the 10th of June ephemeris agenda, which began being celebrated in Portugal and abroad in order to set the Portuguese presence in the different communities worldwide. It was then named as the "Day of Portugal, Camões and the Portuguese Communities".

Currently there is a register of Portuguese and Portuguese descendants living in more than 190 countries. The celebration of Portugal's national day by the Portuguese communities around the world is a fair acknowledgment not only of its meaning to Portugal, but also of these communities' contribution to the recognition of Portugal abroad.

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