Madeira Day in Portugal Date in the current year: July 1, 2024

Madeira Day in Portugal Madeira, one of Portugal’s two autonomous regions, celebrates its national holiday on July 1. Madeira Day (Dia da Madeira) commemorates the discovery of Madeira by Portuguese seafarers in 1419, as well as marks the date when Madeira was granted political autonomy.

Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal that occupies the eponymous archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean, situated between the Canary Islands and Morocco. The archipelago consists of two inhabited islands (Madeira and Porto Santo), three uninhabited islands collectively known as the Desertas, which are a designated nature reserve, and several small islets. The Savage Islands are a separate archipelago from Madeira geographically, but they are administered as part of the Autonomous Region of Madeira.

The archipelago was mentioned by Roman and Greek authors such as Pliny the Elder and Plutarch, and first appeared on the maps in 1339, almost a century before its official discovery by Portuguese seafarers. In November 1418, two Portuguese captains, João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira, were driven by a storm to the island they called Porto Santo (Holy Harbor).

In 1419, an organized Portuguese expedition traveled to the archipelago of Madeira. It is believed that Portuguese seafarers first sighted the island of Madeira on July 1, 1419. Despite the earlier arrival of Zarco and Vaz Teixeira to Porto Santo, it is this date that is considered the official discovery day of Madeira. The members of the expedition claimed the archipelago for the Portuguese crown.

The colonization of Madeira began circa 1420–1425. In 1433, the archipelago first appeared on the map under the name “Madeira” and as a Portuguese possession. Per Prince Henry the Navigator’s orders, Madeira became a major center for sugar cane cultivation and one of the world’s largest sugar producers.

In the 17th century, when sugar production moved to other Portuguese colonies such as Brazil and São Tomé and Príncipe, wine became Madeira’s most important product. In the 19th century, the archipelago also became a popular resort.

In 1974, a group of Portuguese military officers overthrew the authoritarian Estado Novo regime in the Carnation Revolution, which led to the liberalization and democratization of the country. As part of democratic reforms, Madeira was granted political autonomy on July 1, 1976. The anniversary of this event, which coincides with Madeira’s discovery anniversary, is now celebrated as Madeira Day.

Madeira Day is a public holiday in the autonomous community, but it isn’t celebrated in any official capacity in the rest of Portugal. It was established by the Legislative Assembly of Madeira in 1976. In 1989, the holiday got a new official name, the Day of the Autonomous Region of Madeira and Madeira Communities (Dia da Região Autónoma da Madeira e das Comunidades Madeirenses), to highlight that it is a celebration for all Madeirans, regardless of where they live.

Madeira Day events include a ceremony at the Legislative Assembly, the laying of flowers at the Monument of Autonomy in Funchal, a holiday mass at the Cathedral of Funchal, various cultural events, and a spectacular firework display.

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Madeira Day in Portugal, holidays in Portugal, regional holidays, holidays in Madeira