Artigas Day is celebrated on June 19 every year. It’s a national holiday in Uruguay. It celebrates the birth anniversary of José Gervasio Artigas, who is also known as the father of Uruguayan nationhood. Artigas is considered one of the principal leaders of Latin America, as well as a national hero in Uruguay. He heavily participated in the Latin American wars not only against the Spanish and Portuguese empires but also against the centralist government of Buenos Aires. His bravery and patriotism led not just to the freedom of Uruguayans, but also to the independence of Latin American nations. Learn more about how you can celebrate and honor José Gervasio Artigas on this anniversary.
History of Artigas Day
José Gervasio Artigas was born on June 19, 1764, in Montevideo, Uruguay. His father, Martín José Artigas, and his mother, Francisca Antonia Arnal, both came from wealthy families. Artigas had a comfortable and well-off childhood. Fighting for justice and freedom was always in his blood as his grandparents also participated in the War of the Spanish Succession from 1701 to 1715. At age 12, Artigas spent most of his time on his family’s farm in the countryside where he gained knowledge about cattle and farming. He also adapted to the gauchos and Native Indians’ way of life. At age 18, he got involved in cattle smuggling. He slowly distanced himself from his parents, and he eventually became a wanted man by the hacienda owners and the Montevideo government.
When the Anglo-Saxon War broke out in 1792, he was pardoned to join the army. He became a lieutenant in 1797 and started his military career. Determined to redeem himself from past wrongdoings, he proved to be a valuable asset to the team by organizing the gauchos to start a guerilla war against the British. While the British tried to attack for the second time, the local troops defeated them and returned Montevideo to Spanish control. By this time, Artigas was promoted to captain, and he used this power to fight for their independence against Spain. He led all Uruguayan patriots and conquered most of modern-day Uruguay.
Years later, Artigas wanted a federal government in Argentina inspired by the United States, while the Buenos Aires government wanted a centralized control. This political disagreement led to a civil war, which ignited the birth of Uruguay’s nationhood. At the age of 86, Artigas died on September 23, 1850, in Asunción, Paraguay.
Artigas Day timeline
José Gervasio Artigas is born in Montevideo to wealthy parents Martín José Artigas and Francisca Antonia Arnal.
The Montevideo government pardons Artigas’ cattle smuggling cases to join the Anglo-Saxon War.
Artigas joins the military as a lieutenant.
Artigas is promoted to captain, which gives him the power to defeat the British invasion.
Artigas dies in Asunción, Paraguay, at the age of 86.
Artigas Day FAQs
How did Artigas die?
Artigas died from old age and natural causes.
What is Natalicio de Artigas?
Natalicio de Artigas is the Uruguayan term for Artigas’ Birthday.
Is Uruguay still a part of Argentina?
No, Uruguay has been an independent nation since 1825.
How to Observe Artigas Day
Visit the Artigas Mausoleum
One of the most traditional activities during Artigas’ Birthday is visiting the Artigas Mausoleum. His remains were interred here in 1977 at the center of the Plaza Independencia.
Learn about the history of Uruguay’s nationhood
The road to Uruguay’s nationhood was long and complex. Grab this opportunity to learn about Uruguay’s history before its independence and how Artigas played a crucial role in the country’s pivotal years.
Watch The Story of Artigas
“The Story of Artigas” is a 2018 film about Artigas’ years of hiding in the north of Uruguay. It features an in-depth portrayal of his bravery and how he never succumbs to Argentine dominance.
5 Interesting Facts About José Artigas
He died in a saddle
When he was near death, he requested a horse and a saddle where he died, reminding him of his countryside childhood life.
He lived his last years in exile
He lived in exile in Paraguay after the Portuguese invasion once again broke in.
He has an order of merit
In 1980, the Order of Military Merit of the Companions of Ortigas was founded and dedicated to him.
He has monuments in Europe
Monuments were erected in Romania, Bulgaria, and Italy and dedicated to his honor.
An extinct rodent was named after him
An extinct giant rodent called ‘josephoartigasia’ was named after him.
Why Artigas Day is Important
We honor his sacrifices
José Artigas is a complex political figure who is responsible for the nationhood and independence of Uruguay. This day is a celebration of all his sacrifices including his years of exile.
It has a rich history
Artigas’ Birthday allows everyone to dive into the history of Uruguay’s independence and the Latin American wars. It’s a great opportunity to pass on this rich cultural and historical day to the next generation so that the memory of Artigas will live on.
His heroism crossed boundaries
He did not just fight for Uruguay, but also other nations in Latin America against Portuguese and Spanish forces. His political ideals were unprecedented, and it’s only right to honor them.
Artigas Day dates