Portugal Day

National holiday: June 10th

A day celebrating the nation’s most famous poet. Although it is only an official holiday in Portugal, it is celebrated by the Portuguese communities all over the world as a day to remember their heritage and culture and celebrate their mother language. Portugal has always been a country of emigrants and there are very large communities in France, Luxembourg, the United States, Venezuela and, of course, in its brother country Brazil. Many people gather with friends and have grilled sardines, the Portuguese barbecue classic.

The Portuguese commemorate Luís Vaz de Camões, who died on June 10th, 1580. In the 16th century he wrote odes, sonnets and the epic poem “Os Lusíadas” which celebrates the country’s achievements during the maritime discoveries of the 15th and 16th centuries. Camões is Portugal’s Shakespeare and his influence is so profound that Portuguese is sometimes called the "language of Camões".

During the authoritarian Estado Novo regime in the 20th century, Camões was used as a symbol for the Portuguese nation. In 1944, at the dedication ceremony of the National Stadium in Oeiras, Prime Minister of Portugal António de Oliveira Salazar referred to 10th June as Dia da Raça (Day of the Portuguese Race). The notion of a Portuguese "race" served his nationalist purposes. Portugal Day celebrations were officially suspended during the Carnation Revolution in 1974.

Celebrations resumed after 1974 and were expanded to include the Comunidades Portuguesas, Portuguese emigrants and their descendants living in communities all around the world. The celebrations usually involve a speech by the President, military parades and all kinds of cultural events such as concerts and art exhibitions.

Portuguese in Carinthia. Daniela Silva moved to Austria from Alcobaça (Portugal). She lived in Villach from 2012 until 2017 with her partner Lino Alves, also from Portugal. Daniela is a translator and taught  Portuguese to the two Portuguese children that attend the International School Carinthia. “It has been very rewarding to be able to help them keep in contact with their mother language. It’s important that the children can have this experience, since the Portuguese community in Carinthia is so small otherwise they would only speak the language with their parents and one or two other people”, Daniela said.  “In our classes we also talked about Portuguese history and traditions, the kids liked it a lot. And actually one of them has his birthday on the 10th of June!”

Photo: Daniela Silva