History

Dia de Camões, de Portugal e das Comunidades Portuguesas (Day of Camões, Portugal, and the Portuguese Communities), marks the date of Luís Vaz de Camões’ death on June 10, 1580 and is Portugal’s National Day. Camões wrote the Lusiadas, Portugal’s national epic celebrating Portuguese history and achievements. The poem focuses mainly on the 16th-century Portuguese explorations that brought fame and fortune to the country. Camões’ poem, considered one of the finest and most important works in Portuguese literature, became a symbol for the great feats of the Portuguese Empire. Since Camões’ date of birth is unknown, the date of his death is celebrated as Portugal’s National Day. Although it is only officially celebrated in Portugal, Portuguese emigrants and descendents throughout the world celebrate the holiday wherever they live.

Dia de Portugal in California was first celebrated in California on June 10, 1966. It was established and sponsored by the Luso-American Education Foundation with a celebratory banquet and flag raising ceremonies. The Foundation continued to take a leadership role in organizing the celebrations with other organizations in various communities throughout California. Up until the early 2000′s, the celebrations took place in a different community each year. In order to encourage increased participation in the celebration, many communities statewide agreed to hold parallel events during the week leading up to June 10. In this way, each community could hold celebratory activities annually, increasing the visibility of and participation in the Dia de Portugal celebrations.

The Portuguese Heritage Society of California’s annual festival was initially a “Spring Festival” held in April. Due to unpredictable April weather and other competing events in the community, its directors decided to move the festival date to celebrate Dia de Portugal. The festival would be held each year at History Park San Jose on the second Saturday in June. That’s how the annual Dia de Portugal Festival at History Park San Jose was born. The Portuguese Heritage Society of California sponsors this annual celebration so that everyone can enjoy Portuguese food and culture, as well as that of other Lusophone countries like Macau and Brazil.

We hope you enjoy the festivities and will join us every year for our annual celebration!