World Portuguese Language Day | 5th May
World Portuguese Day
The Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP), an intergovernmental organization, is in a formal partnership with UNESCO since 2000. The CPLP brings together peoples who have the Portuguese language as one of the foundations of their unique identity, and officially established the date of May 5 in 2009 to honor the Portuguese language and Lusophone cultures. The designation of May 5 as “World Portuguese Language Day” was made by the UNESCO General Conference at its 40th session in 2019.
With more than 265 million speakers distributed across all continents, Portuguese is not only one of the most frequently spoken languages in the world; it is also the language with the most usage in the southern hemisphere. Today, Portuguese is still a significant worldwide language with a substantial geographic projection that is still going to grow.
What is the Lusophone Culture?
People who speak Portuguese as a first or common second language and countries where Portuguese plays a significant role in society are referred to as Lusophones (Portuguese: Lusófonos). It is a collection of Portuguese-speaking countries having historical or cultural ties to Portugal and ongoing close political, diplomatic, and military cooperation. The community of the Portuguese-speaking (Lusophone) world includes Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Galicia, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Macau, Mozambique, Portugal, So Tomé and Prncipe, East Timor, Uruguay, Cochin, Azores, Madeira, Goa, Daman and Diu, Singapore, and Malacca to varying degrees.
Although the Portuguese diaspora, the Brazilian diaspora, and the Cape Verdean diaspora communities have also contributed to the expansion of the Portuguese language and Lusophone culture, the history of the Lusophone world and that of the Portuguese Empire are inextricably interwoven. Through the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), Portuguese-speaking countries collaborate in politics, culture, and the economy.
Given what we know about the Portuguese, let’s look at some of their most illustrious historical and contemporary figures.
Famous Portuguese personalities
- Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama set off from Lisbon in 1497 with the intention of reaching India and building a sea route that connected Europe with the East. His expedition made multiple stops in Africa until arriving at the trading town of Calicut, India, in May 1498, as he sailed down the western coast of Africa and circumnavigated the Cape of Good Hope. In 1502, after receiving a hero’s welcome upon his return to Portugal, Da Gama was dispatched on a second mission to India, where he engaged in bloody combat with local Muslim traders. After 20 years, da Gama visited India once more, this time in the capacity of Portuguese viceroy. He passed away there in late 1524 due to sickness.
- Luis Vaz de Camões
Portuguese poet and author Luis Vaz de Camões was prominent in the 16th century. He is regarded as one of the best poets to have written in Portuguese, and he had a significant role in the growth of Portuguese literature.
Around 1524, Camões was born in Lisbon, Portugal, yet little is known about his early years. During his time as a soldier in the Portuguese colonies of Asia and Africa, he started writing poems. His most well-known piece is “Os Lusadas” (The Lusiads), an epic poem that honors the accomplishments of the Portuguese people, particularly Vasco da Gama and other explorers who contributed to Portugal’s rise to power.
- Amália Rodrigues
Amalia Rodrigues was born into a family with little money in Lisbon, Portugal on July 23, 1920. Even though she made her professional debut as a singer in 1939 at the age of 19, she had already demonstrated a talent for singing when she was a little girl. She performed extensive tours for Spain and Brazil during World War II, and her song “Ai Mouraria” gave her her first significant musical triumph in 1945. She made her acting debut in the 1947 Portuguese film “Capas Negras”, which was hailed as Portugal’s greatest film of the year. Amália went on to become a well-known international figure and the country’s most adored and renowned actress.
Amália became Portugal’s most prominent representative of popular music during the 1950s and 1960s, serving as their principal representative for both her very successful motion pictures (including “Sangue Toureiro,” the country’s first color film), as well as her albums.
- Cristiano Ronaldo
Portuguese professional footballer Cristiano Ronaldo plays as a forward for Al Nassr of the Saudi Professional League and is the team captain for Portugal. Ronaldo, who is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, holds the record for most European player honors with five Ballon d’Or victories and four European Golden Shoes. In his career, he has won 32 trophies, including the UEFA European Championship, the UEFA Nations League, five UEFA Champions Leagues, and seven league championships.
- Salvador Sobral
Salvador Vilar Braamcamp Sobral, a singer and activist from Portugal, was born on December 28, 1989. With the song “Amar pelos dois,” composed by his sister Lusa Sobral, he represented Portugal in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest and took home the gold. He ended a nation’s 53-year losing streak by giving Portugal its first victory in the competition since it made its debut in 1964.
He won the competition in Kyiv, Ukraine, with 758 points under the current voting system, receiving the maximum number of points from both the jury and the general public vote.
World Portuguese Day is an important day celebrated by UNESCO to celebrate the Portuguese language. One can contribute to the language by learning it, and actively participating to support its culture.