June 10, 2010

Portugal Day (a.k.a. Camoes Day)

Portugal's National Day is celebrated on June 10 to honor the country's greatest poet, a man named Luis de Camoes, who died on this day in 1580. (The date of his birth is unknown.)

Camoes's most important work is a long epic poem he wrote about the greatness of Portugal. Called Os Lusiadas, this poem mainly concerns the 16th-Century explorations that brought fame and fortune to the country.

Camoes actually wrote the po
em while he was traveling aboard a ship on an exploratory adventure of his own. When his boat was shipwrecked near Cochinchina (which we now call Vietnam), Camoes is said to have swum ashore from the wreck using just one arm so that he could hold the poem up out of the water with his other hand!

That story may not be true, but it is certain that both Camoes and the poem survived the shipwreck.

is more than a fad

Fado is a music genre that has been around since the 1800s. Apparently it is the Portuguese version of the blues (or even of emo), because it features mournful tunes and lyrics. It typically has one singer and one guitar, plus loads of heartfelt emotion.

Here is one example of Fado.

Learn more about Portugal

  • Enjoy a travelogue of Lisbon, Portugal (the capital city), courtesy of Phillip Martin. Be sure to click the links to see more!
  • Another city is Porto, which is in the north of Portugal. Enjoy this slide show. (Click the lower-case "i" to read about each slide, and click the arrow to go on to the next slide.)
  • Here are more online jigsaws. Notice that you can choose difficulty level (the number and shape of pieces) by clicking “Change Cut.”

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