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First of December in Portugal - The Celebration Day of Restoration of Independence

Updated on June 8, 2015

The Years Before

Portugal has been an independent state since the year of 1143, when the Treaty of Zamora was announced.

Since then there was a period of sixty years during which the Portuguese crown was ruled by the Spanish Kings, the period from 1580 to 1640 resulted from a succession crisis in 1580, since in 1578 the Portuguese King "Sebastião I" died with no direct heirs to the throne.

During this period between 1580 and 1640, the two kingdoms started to be ruled "separately", but with only one King ruling both.

After the death of the first Spanish King, Filipe I of Portugal, in 1598, the reign of Filipe II of Portugal was starting to disrespect the autonomy of Portugal, and the Portuguese nobles.

In 1621, Filipe II of Portugal died, and the king was Filipe III of Portugal, the new king was even more interested in centralizing the power in Madrid and raising taxes. The Portuguese Nobles were losing power and money, and could not accept such thing.

Meanwhile in Catalonia, the situation was similar, the nobles were losing their power and taxes were raising, perfect ingredients for a revolution.

Paço Ducal - Vila Viçosa

The Palace where the future king of Portugal lived as Noble. The Statue in the middle of the square is the king  D. João IV, in his horse.
The Palace where the future king of Portugal lived as Noble. The Statue in the middle of the square is the king D. João IV, in his horse.
King Joao IV of Portugal
King Joao IV of Portugal

Why the First of December

In the first of december of 1640, the Christmas date was approaching and many Spanish Nobles were heading for their home lands in Spain to celebrate the date with their family.

So, on the it was on the first day of december that the Portuguese Nobles convinced the "Future King D.João IV" to join the conspiracy and revolt against the Spanish domination.

The Chosen Year - 1640

Early in 1640 there was a strong revolt in the Spanish province Catalonia, as well as in other Spanish provinces. The Spanish forces had to be in several regions, and could not organize a full scale attack against Portugal.

Since the Portuguese revolt would weaken the Spanish Empire, the other European powers also helped the Portuguese, specially England and Netherlands who had with Portugal, a common enemy.

Restauradores Square

The obelisk was inaugurated in 1886 and carries the names and dates of the battles fought during the Portuguese Restoration War, in 1640.
The obelisk was inaugurated in 1886 and carries the names and dates of the battles fought during the Portuguese Restoration War, in 1640.
A markerRestauradores, Lisboa -
Praça Restauradores, Lisboa, Portugal
get directions

The central location of Lisbon, a celebration to the restoration of independence.


Although it was an important mark in the History of Portugal, there aren't many celebrations for this holiday. Some villages celebrate it locally but there is not a big national holiday.

A reason for the "low importance" to this holiday, is that the National day of Portugal ( which can be compared to the 4th July in USA, or 14th July of France) is the 10th of June, the day of Portugal, Portuguese Communities and Camões.

The three hymns to celebrate the day

On the first of December, 2012, in the final part of the majestic avenue "da Liberdade", 750 musicians and 14 bands from all over the country played together the three hymns.

  • Maria da Fonte (A revolution in 1846)
  • Restauração (Restoration)
  • Nacional (National anthem)


You can find many clubs with the name "1º de Dezembro".

For example the "Sociedade União 1º de Dezembro", is a major team in the Sintra region and plays in the second division.

Curiously the women football section, created in 1995, plays in the national top league, the Campeonato Nacional and is dominating the competition in recent years. After the first championship title in 1999-2000, the team won every season from the 2001-02 season onwards for now eleven championships in a row. With their twelfth title in 2012 they became Portugal's record champion

It was also on the 1st of December that D. Pedro I was crowned Emperor of Brazil in 1822, year of Brazil's independence.

Internationally it is the "World AIDS day"

What also happened on the first of December?

In 1824 the United States faced presidential elections.

Since no candidate was able to receive a majority of the total electoral college votes in the election, the United States House of Representatives is given the task of deciding the winner in accordance with the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

In 1913, the Buenos Aires Metro begins operation, it was the first underground railway system in the Southern Hemisphere and in Latin America.

In 1941, the preparations for Pearl Harbor begin, Emperor Hirohito of Japan gives the final approval to initiate war against the United States.

In 1976, the Portuguese ex-colony, Angola, joins the United Nations.


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    • saitam profile image

      saitam 4 years ago from Lisbon

      Thank you Asp52.

      I will try to keep them interesting. :)

    • Asp52 profile image

      Asp52 4 years ago from England

      Thank you for an interesting article on a part of Europe I knew very little about, please keep them coming.