April 25th - Celebrating freedom in Portugal

Portugal and red carnation bumper sticker
Portugal and red carnation bumper sticker by aportugueselove
Check out Carnation Bumper Stickers online at zazzle

In a few weeks, it will be time to celebrate April's Revolution. It happened 40 years ago already! I decided to write about it because it's an important date.

I was a child when it happened. We were sent home from school and I had a pink uniform! I remember a black and white TV showing images of what was going on in Lisbon. I remember enthusiastic discussions from the adults around it. Then I remember returning to school and watching two big fainted squares on the classroom wall in front of us. That's because the photos of the deposed political leaders have been taken down. I also remember that the name of the street I lived in changed. The old name wasn't considered good anymore. It was now named after the Revolution - Rua 25 de Abril. And I remember that I liked that! I liked the fact that I was living in a street that received a name after Carnation Revolution. On April 25th, 1974, the Armed Forces Movement re-established democracy without shedding the blood of those who opposed change. The military did not take revenge, they treated prisoners with respect and justice. I've always found this to be an amazing achievement.

I also remember that my mother bought red carnations several times in the weeks that followed that exciting day. They were in a flower vase on the living room table. I did not like carnations and the Revolution did not change that.

The story of this symbol is that Tourist Day was being celebrated and there were lots of carnations for distribution in the markets of Lisbon. An important restaurant was holding a party to celebrate one year of existence but because of the Revolution going on the manager decided not to open for the day. The carnations they had for the party were given to employees that took the flowers home. One woman that was passing by was asked for a cigar by a military. But she was a non-smoker. So she gave him the carnation and immediately he placed it in the barrel of the gun. Her name is Celeste Caeiro and she's known since that day as Celeste dos Cravos, Celeste of the Carnations. The gesture was then replicated and the carnations become a spontaneous symbol of the revolution.

At the start of the 1980s, after some years of political instability, Portugal evolved towards a full democracy which is part of the country of the present day. I am grateful to the men who had the initiative to change things back in April 1974. I may not agree with the current political situation in the country. I can say this openly without fear of going to jail and being tortured. I value freedom. I can write my opinions without fear of censorship. And as a woman, I value that the law does not discriminate against me just because I'm a woman anymore. 

Even though many people are disenchanted with the direction the country has taken recently I think we should always celebrate Dia da Liberdade or Freedom Day and honor the memory of men who dared to fight the system. What is Carnation Revolution? Why did it happen? What were the consequences of it? I'll provide some historical footage and list the songs that made history at the time. I just hope to have the time to write.


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