Madeira Day, celebrated every July 1, is a day that marks a very special occasion in the history of the island. On this day in 1976, the Portuguese Constitution granted self-rule to the archipelago. The day, however, is not limited to the island and Portuguese communities residing in different regions of the world also celebrate Madeira Day to pay an ode to their roots. Apart from some fun activities, the holiday is known for a ceremony conducted at the Madeira Regional Legislative Assembly, as well as a Mass at the Cathedral of Funchal.
History of Madeira Day
Before Madeira was discovered by the Portuguese, there was no record of anyone having lived on the island. Can you imagine a place blossoming with such beauty just sitting there undiscovered? Well, according to history, the colonization of Madeira began in 1420 with the arrival of the Portuguese. However, once people started living there, 11th-century fragments of mouse bone were discovered in the region. This indicates that Vikings may have traveled past the islands and the name ‘Ilha da Madeira’ (Madeira Island or “island of the wood”) was spotted on the world map.
The settlement process, however, was also a complicated one and it started with some noblemen and a few prisoners. This began the process of colonizing Madeira to make it habitable for a large population. Agriculture was started and canals were built to ensure clean water was provided all over the island. Fish was the primary diet available to the resident. This was followed by wheat and grain production.
The island then turned towards producing sugarcane, which was a luxury during that time. Sugarcane cultivation and the sugar production industry developed until the 17th century and managed to attract a large number of laborers and travelers. In fact, the horrific colonial system of sugar production was first put into practice on the island of Madeira. Later on, other places also copied the model and began the production of sugar using slave labor. Due to Madeira’s history with sugar, the sugar trader Christopher Columbus, also dropped by the island once. In the late 17th century, Madeira moved from producing sugar to producing wine.
Madeira Day timeline
Portuguese sailors discover Madeira.
The Salazar dictatorship governs the region.
A revolution within Portugal ends the Salazar dictatorship.
Autonomy is granted to Madeira in the Portuguese Constitution.
Madeira Day FAQs
What is Madeira famous for?
Madeira is famous for its wine, landscape, and culture.
Which country owns Madeira?
The Madeira Islands are owned by Portugal.
Do they speak English in Madeira?
Yes, English and European Portuguese are widely spoken in Madeira.
How to Observe Madeira Day
Celebrate Madeira's beauty
Since Madeira is flooded with forests, flora, and mountains, use this day to celebrate the natural beauty of the island. All you have to do is arrange a hiking trip, or simply take a stroll in a forest.
Promote the heritage sites of Madeira
Apart from possessing natural beauty, Madeira also has several heritage sites that need to be spoken about and cherished. So on this day, start posting all about Madeira on your social media accounts.
Wine and dine
Arrange a dinner with friends or family, and step out to celebrate. You can get dressed in cultural outfits, order the special dishes of the island, and sip on some special Madeira wine.
5 Interesting Facts About Madeira
The world’s largest fireworks
The New Year’s Eve fireworks display made it to the Guinness Book of World Records in 2006.
Hiking trails in Madeira
The island has more than 1,300 miles of hiking trails.
Birthplace of a famous footballer
Cristiano Ronaldo was born in Madeira.
Around 270,000 people live in Madeira.
The meaning behind the name
‘Madeira’ means ‘wood’ in Portuguese.
Why Madeira Day is Important
It is educational
The day is educational for the youth, as well as the visitors to the island. It narrates the entire history of the region, as well as the entire effort behind its formation.
Reminds of us important dates
Admit it, not everyone is good at remembering dates. However, since Madeira Day takes place every year, the citizens are reminded of all the important events that led to Madeira’s freedom.
It is fun
Madeira Day is a time of fun and celebration, hence, people of all ages end up enjoying this day. Wouldn’t you enjoy a day full of parades, music, dancing, and joy?
Madeira Day dates