Giving the people back their four days public holidays.
Portugal’s new Socialist government got the thumbs up from Parliament on Friday to rescind probably one of the the worst changes from the previous government and give the people back their four days public holidays that were taken away and were not going to be returned until 2019. Ridding Portugal of austerity is a huge badge of honor for the new government.
The holidays were taken away by the previous center-right coalition government in an attempt to improve productivity after a debt-heavy Portugal received a 78 billion-euro ($84.8 billion) bailout in 2011 during Europe’s financial crisis. which, backed by the Communist Party and radical Left Bloc, took power in November.
So this year’s public holidays will include:
Corpus Christi – 26th May
The Feast of Corpus Christi is a Catholic festival celebrated on the second Thursday after Whitsun.
Corpus Christi means the Body of Christ and refers to the elements of the Eucharist also called the Holy Communion, Last Supper or Lord’s Supper
The emergence of Corpus Christi as a Christian feast didn’t happen until the second half of the thirteenth-century with the efforts of nun called Juliana of Liège.
Since childhood, Juliana had been claiming that God had been telling her that there should be a feast day for the Eucharist and eventually she petitioned the Bishop of Liège. In those days bishops could order feasts in their local dioceses. The bishop agreed to the feast and convened a synod in 1246 and ordered that a celebration of Corpus Christi should be held annually.
The Corpus Christi celebration only started to become more widespread after both Juliana and the Bishop had died. In 1264 Pope Urban IV issued the papal bull Transiturus in which Corpus Christi was made a feast throughout the entire Latin Rite.
Corpus Christi is primarily a Roman Catholic feast, but it is also acknowledged in the calendar of a few Anglican churches, most notably the Church of England. It is also celebrated by some Western Rite Orthodox Christians. Across many parts of medieval Europe, Corpus Christi was a popular time for the performance of mystery plays.
Republic Day – 5th October (In Portugal it is known as “Implantation of the Republic”.)
In Portugal it is known as “Implantation of the Republic”.
It commemorates the establishment of a republican form of government in 1910 when the monarchy, the House of Braganca, that had been in power since the 11th century was overthrown in a bloodless revolution.
The king at the time was Manoel II, and a French style republic was put in place after he was overthrown.
The First Republic lasted for just 16 turbulent years, ending with the 28 May coup d’état of 1926.
This put in place a military dictatorship known as the National Dictatorship. This was followed by the fascist Estado Novo (New State) regime of António de Oliveira Salazar, and proved to be the longest serving authoritarian regime in Western Europe.
All Saints’ Day – 1st November
All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows (hence Halloween – All Hallow’s Eve) is celebrated on November 1 as a commemoration day for all saints.
The first All Saints’ Day occurred on 13 May 609 C.E. when Pope Boniface IV accepted the Pantheon in Rome as a gift from the Emperor Phocas.
The Pope dedicated the day as a holiday to honour the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs.
During the reign of Pope Gregory III, the festival was moved to 1 November and was expanded to include the honouring of all saints.
The day survived the Reformation, though the Protestants combined it with All Souls’ Day, which was on 2 November.
The day was abolished as a church festival in 1770, but may be celebrated by many churches on the first Sunday in November.
In Roman Catholicism, All Saints’ Day is a Holy Day of Obligation. This means Catholics must go to Mass on the date unless there is a good reason not to attend, such as illness.
In recent years, it has become common in many churches to commemorate those who died during the year on the day itself.
The tradition of placing candles on the graves the evening before All Saints’ Eve is becoming more common.
Restoration of Independence Day -1st December
This holiday is always celebrated on 1 December and marks the reinstatement of sovereignty after the period of Spanish rule between 1580 and 1640.
Portugal was plunged into a a royal crisis in 1587 following the death of the young King D. Sebastião at the battle of Alcácer Quibir in North Africa.
The King of Spain, Philip II, seized this regal vacuum and invoked his right to succession – he was the grandson of D. Manuel I of Portugal. He ascended to the throne and managed to achieve an Iberian Union for the first and only time.
With Philip II as King, Portugal became involved in a war with the traditional enemies of Spain, such as England and the Low Countries. Portugal lost a great part of its naval fleet and much of it’s empire – though they did manage to thwart Dutch ambitions in Africa and South America.
Fearing for the loss of Portugal’s status, a revolution was led by the nobility and high bourgeoisie. On 1 December 1640, 60 years after the crowning of Philip I, the Portuguese monarchy was restored and and a new ruling dynasty, the House of Bragança, was founded.
So there you have it – Portugal returns to 13 official public holidays a year, although many workers receive 14 days holiday due to the many employers and companies that give an extra day off at Carnival time.