Grab a Pastéis de Nata and throw on some Amália Rodrigues as today is Dia de Portugal, or Portugal Day.  

Portugal’s National Day traces its origins back to the 17th century when Luís de Camões, one of the nation’s greatest literary figures, passed away on June 10, 1580. 

Camões is renowned for his epic poem “Os Lusíadas,” which vividly narrates the discovery of a sea route to India by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. 

The poem is written in a similar fashion to Homer’s Illiad or Odyssey. 

In celebration of the day, the poet and the people, Portugal comes alive with an array of festivities, parades, and cultural events held throughout the country. 

The capital city of Lisbon becomes the focal point where the main celebrations take place. The highlight of the day is the traditional military parade held in the historic Belém district, with the participation of the Portuguese Armed Forces. 

The following is an excerpt from Os Lusíadas, which gives a taste of the grandeur of Camões’ masterpiece as well as the sense of pride it still inspires today:

Boast no more about the subtle Greek 
Or the long odyssey of Trojan Aeneas; 
Enough of the oriental conquests 
of great Alexander and of Trajan; 
I sing of the famous Portuguese 
To whom both Mars and Neptune bowed. 
Abandon all the ancient Muse revered, 
A loftier code of honour has appeared. 
And you, nymphs of the Tagus, who 
First suckled my infant genius, 
If ever in my rustic verses 
I celebrated your companionable river, 
Return me now a loftier tone, 
A style both grand and contemporary; 
Be to me Helicon. Let Apollo choose 
Your water as the fountain of my muse. 
Fire me now with mighty cadences, 
Not a goatherd’s querulous piping 
But the shouts of a battle trumpet, 
Stirring the heart, steeling the countenance; 
Give me a poem worthy of the exploits 
Of the heroes so inspired by Mars, 
To propagate their deeds through space and time 
If poetry can rise to the sublime.

 This version was translated into English by Landeg White.

Diplomatic Network (Asia) wishes the Portuguese people a happy Dia de Portugal.