Today, 25th April, is a national holiday in Portugal. It is the anniversary of the Carnation Revolution and this day commemorates the start of the bloodless military coup which with the help of civil resistance led to the fall of the Estado Novo bringing democracy and civil liberties to the Portuguese people and the withdrawal of Portugal from its African colonies. It brought to an end nearly five decades of dictatorship (1937-1974).
The revolution was undertaken by the Armed Forces Movement (MFA) led by General Antonio Spinola and other prominent civilian and army figures. The military forces quickly overwhelmed the government, sparking spontaneous demonstrations in the street, in which civilians ran out to mingle with the soldiers, despite orders to stay inside.
At the time, carnations were flooding the famous central flower market of Lisbon, and many citizens put them into the gun barrels of the soldiers, inspiring the name “Carnation Revolution” to describe this event in Portuguese history.
In 1974, more than half of Portugal’s government budget was spent on its armed forces engaged in wars in three of Portugal’s African colonies. The new regime implemented a swift decolonization program granting independence to Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Cape Verde Islands, Sao Tome and Principe, and Angola.
The economic cost of this was that Portugal underwent severe economic turmoil, which took a long time to stabilize and has left Portugal a relatively poor country since.
Over the course of the next decade a stable two party system was established. Soon after, in 1980, the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores became autonomous regions to enjoy self-government.
We are reminded of our peaceful revolution and our freedoms every time we go to Lisbon– the former Salazar Bridge which crosses the river Tejo was renamed Ponte 25 de Abril in remembrance.
Whist Portugal is celebrating its peaceful revolution with a public holiday and as much pomp and circumstance as they can muster others across the world are celebrating and commemorating a variety of other things.
In Australia and New Zealand they are commemorating those “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.”
Originally, 25 April every year was to honour the 78,000 members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli during World War I. Today is the 98th Anniversary of that landing.
Thousands of people attended dawn services of remembrance in Perth and all across Australia.
Lastly the most unusual holiday today — World Penguin Day.