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Portugal Day, Camões and Portuguese Communities

The 10th of June is one of the most important holidays in Portugal. It was the date Luís Vaz de Camões died - the records admit that it may have been in 1579 or 1580 - who is considered the prince of the Portuguese poets, whose most important masterpiece is Os Lusíadas, a long poem where the epic of Vasco da Gama is told and the other Portuguese navigators in the discovery of the maritime route to India.

The holiday began to be celebrated after the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the republic in 1910. At the time, the date was particularly important for Republican activists, who saw in Camões the greatest representation of Portuguese splendor. Nevertheless, it was a holiday celebrated in some Municipality and some not.

It would be only with the so-called Estado Novo and the Constitution established in 1933 - which would implement the dictatorial regime in Portugal until 1974 - that the date passed to the list of national holidays, then with the name of Dia de Camões, de Portugal e da Raça (Day of Camões, Portugal and race), which it would lose with the establishment of democracy after the revolution of 25 April 1974, when it was called Dia de Portugal, Camões e Das Comunidades Portuguesas (Day of Portugal, Camões and Portuguese Communities).
Camões, who was born in Lisbon in 1524, was a descendant of a troubadour fidalgo and warrior who came from Galicia (now Spanish autonomous region) to Portugal in the 14th century. Alleged amorous dislikes have led him to self-exile, first in the Ribatejo and then in the then Portuguese square of Ceuta (now under Spanish jurisdiction), as a military man, which would cost him the loss of an eye during a battle in full Strait of Gibraltar. It would still be in the condition of man of arms that he left for India in 1553, integrated in a squadron commanded by Fernão Álvares Cabral. It would have been on this voyage, completed in Goa (India) in 1554 that he would reconstitute part of the voyage of Vasco da Gama and would bring him the inspiration to write the ten Cantos (songs) of Os Lusíadas.

The 10th of June also praises the Portuguese communities scattered throughout the world, highlighting the tradition of emigration associated with the history of Portugal since the time of the Discoveries. It is estimated that, if all the emigrants had stayed in the country, Portugal would currently have more than 40 million inhabitants and not the current less than 10 million.

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