Independence Day public holiday in Portugal
1 of December is a date of a great importance for the Portuguese and a nation-wide public holiday.
Known as the Restoration of Independence Day, the holiday celebrates Portugal’s regaining sovereignty from Spain in the 17th century.
The Philippine Dynasty in Portugal
The disappearance of the young Portuguese King Sebastian during the battle of Alcácer-Quibir in Northern Africa in 1578 led to a serious dynastic crisis. The Kingdom of Portugal, deprived of a monarch quickly fell under the influence of the powerful neighbour, Spain. In 1581 Philip II of the Spanish Habsburg dynasty was proclaimed the King of Portugal, under the name of Philip I.
The Spanish domain lasted 6 decades, with King Philip III (Philip II of Portugal) takin over in 1598, followed by King Philip IV, crowned King Philip III of Portugal in 1621.
Portuguese Restoration War
Depending on Spain, Portugal got involved with many of the military conflicts with the Spanish Empire’s enemies and was also forced to heavy contributions to the common treasury. That, understandably, led to the uprisal of the anti-Spanish movement, led by the Portuguese nobility and bourgeoisie, which culminated in the acclamation of the King John (João) IV of the Braganza dynasty as the monarch of Portugal, on 1 December 1640.
The revolution was not left without a response from Spain which attempted to withhold the control over Portugal. The so called Portuguese Restoration War broke up lasting for over 4 decades. The Treaty of Lisbon, signed in 1668, in which Spain acknowledged Portugal’s sovereignty, put an end to the military aggressions.
The Restoration of Independence celebrations in Portugal
1 of December became a public holiday in Portugal in 1910.
In 2013, due to the austerity measures for the crisis stricken Portugal and together with three other festive dates, The Independence Day/1 December was removed from the list of Portuguese public holidays, returning only in 2016.
The day is celebrated with parades and public gatherings. Schools and public offices are closed on 1 December and so is a large part of retail. You will find, however, most restaurants open.