Portugal Independence Day is celebrated every year on December 1 in Portugal. The country achieved its independence from Spain in 1668. This day commemorates the reinstatement of sovereignty after the period of Spanish rule between 1580 and 1640. Since then, Portugal has emerged as a colonial power and successfully colonized countries in Asia and Africa. Portugal Independence Day is a public holiday in the country and all schools and businesses stay shut. The day is celebrated with great fanfare in the country. People gather to sing, dance, attend carnivals, and attend patriotic events. Today Portugal has emerged as an important center for sports and tourism.
History of Portugal Independence Day
In 1581, Portugal came under Spanish rule because the king died without appointing an heir. For the next 60 years, Portugal remained under Spanish control. However, discontent amid the Portuguese crept in when the Spanish increased taxes on Portuguese merchant ships, and attempts were made to make Portugal a region of Spain. The situation took a turn for the worse when the Portuguese nobility lost its influence in Madrid and Portugal. This tense succession of events resulted in a revolt that led to the Portuguese Restoration War, also known as “The Acclamation War,” of December 1, 1640.
Both the year and the date of the revolt have significance. The Portuguese chose December 1 since the Spanish nobles in Portugal would be going home for Christmas and 1640 was chosen because it was also the year when a revolt broke out in Catalonia, Spain. The war lasted for 28 years, till Spain recognized Portugal’s independence in 1668. Portugal had already emerged as a colonial power, the Spanish army was preoccupied with Catalonia during that time, and wars were going on with the Germans, French, English, and Dutch — all these helped Portugal secure its independence.
The 28 years of wars, however, did not include many major battles. In fact, there were only five major battles. The war was mostly made up of small skirmishes and raids. The English and Dutch also helped Portugal during the conflict, to weaken their common enemy. The Portuguese House of Braganca ascended the throne of Portugal after the Spanish were forced to leave.
Portugal Independence Day timeline
A quarrel breaks out between Afonso Henriques and his mother Theresa, and Henriques eventually triumphs in battle and declares himself Sovereign of the County of Portugal.
Afonso Henriques, otherwise known as Afonso I, is proclaimed the First King of Portugal.
The death of King Sebastiáo leaves the Portuguese succession in the hands of an elderly and childless Cardinal, and when he dies, the line passes to King Philip II of Spain, who sees an opportunity to unite the two kingdoms, thus starting what is known as the “Spanish Captivity.”
A peace treaty with Spain ends 28 years of war, and Portugal regains its sovereignty, along with all its territories.
Portugal Independence Day FAQs
Do they speak English in Portugal?
Portuguese is the most widely spoken language in Portugal and English is the second most spoken language.
Is Portugal safe?
Portugal ranked the 3rd safest country in the world in the Global Peace Index of 2020 and 4th in 2021.
What currency does Portugal use?
Portugal uses the Euro.
How to Observe Portugal Independence Day
Portugal has emerged as a top tourist destination in Europe, thanks to its beautiful churches, palaces, and castles. To celebrate Portugal Independence Day, visit Portugal.
Enjoy Portuguese cuisine
Portuguese cuisine is known all over the world for its exquisite flavors. If you cannot travel to Portugal to celebrate Portugal Independence Day, celebrate the day by enjoying some classic Portuguese dishes like peri-peri chicken and pastel de nata.
Play a game of football
No sport is as big as football in Portugal. The national team is a source of pride and the country is home to many football stars. Celebrate Portugal Independence Day with a game of football.
5 Interesting Facts About Portugal
The first global empire
Portugal established the first global empire, lasting more than 600 years.
One of the most peaceful countries
The country ranked fourth out of 163 in the Global Peace Index of 2021.
Capital punishment is outlawed
The last capital punishment dates back to 1846, and the judicial practice has been outlawed ever since.
Recreational drugs have been decriminalized
If one is caught with more than the permitted amount, one will get jail time and rehab.
The first country to abolish slavery
Portugal abolished slavery in 1819, thereby setting an example for others to follow.
Why Portugal Independence Day is Important
it’s a national holiday
We love Portugal Independence Day because it’s a national holiday in the country. Businesses and schools are shut on this day so people can spend time with their loved ones.
Portugal’s history is significant to world history
Portugal was a formidable colonial power and altered the history of many nations around the world. Portugal Independence Day is an acknowledgment of the day that would affect so many regions across the globe.
A beautiful county with peace-loving people
Portugal is an important center for tourism, sports, and food, and is also involved in international peacekeeping missions. On Portugal day, we celebrate a beautiful country with beautiful people.
Portugal Independence Day dates