Portugal Day, officially known as Dia de Camões, de Portugal e das Comunidades Portuguesas ('Day of Camões, Portugal, and the Portuguese Communities'), commemorates the death of Luís de Camões on June 10, 1580. It is Portugal's National Day.
Camões wrote the Lusiads, Portugal's national epic celebrating the country's history and achievements. While it is only officially celebrated in Portugal, Portuguese descendents across the world may also celebrate the holiday.
The Lusiads focuses on the Portuguese explorations in the 16th century, which greatly expnaded the influence of Portugal. The poem is considered to be the most important piece of Portuguese literature, and has became a symbol for the glory of the Portuguese nation.
Camões was a colourful character. He lost one eye fighting and was shipwrecked off the coast of present-day Vietnam. According to legend, during the shipwrecking, he kept his epic poem dry by swimming with one arm and keeping the other arm above water.
In the year that Camões died, Portugal lost its independence to Spain and began a period of rule by three generations of Spanish kings. It was over 60 years before the country regained its independence.
For such national days, it is common practice to use a date of birth to mark the national day, but since Camões' date of birth was not known, the date of his death is celebrated instead.
During the rule of the Portugese authoritarian regime up to 1974, Camões was used as a symbol for the Portuguese 'race' by the nationalists. Because of that, the June 10 celebrations were officially suspended during the Carnation Revolution in 1974, resuming as a more inclusive celebration including commerating portugese communities around the world.