Today is another public holiday here in Portugal, it is “Dia de Portugal”. Today is also referred to as “Dia de Camões”. So where did this public holiday come from, well on this day we commemorate the death of one of our national literary icons, Luís Vaz de Camões who died on the 10th of June in 1580. The reason we commemorate his death, is because his date of birth is unknown. So who is Luís de Camões (commonly known by the people as Camões) you might ask. He is the writer of “Os Lusíados” which is translated as The Lusiads, an epic poem celebrating Portuguese history and achievements. It highlights the Portuguese explorations which brought the country fame and fortune at the time. The poem is now considered a symbol of the Portuguese Empire.
Not much is known about Camões’ early years, but we do know that he was an adventurer who, while enlisted in the military lost an eye during a battle at Ceuta (one of two permanently inhabited Spanish Territories in Mainland Africa), and traveled the seas from Portugal to Goa and Asia. On a return trip from Goa he survived a shipwreck close to the mouth of the Mekong River. Back in Portugal he published “Os Lusíados”.
The death of Camões coincided with the succession crisis of 1580 here in Portugal and that resulted in Philip II of Spain laying claim to the Portuguese throne. For the next 3 generations,from 1580 through to 1640, Portugal was ruled by Spanish Kings. But on December 1st of 1640 Portugal managed to regain its independence once again from Spanish rule during what is known as the Portuguese Restoration War. João de Bragança became the next King of Portugal, Dom João IV.
This day is not only celebrated within the Portuguese borders, but also throughout the rest of the world in the Portuguese communities. So enjoy your day.