10 Facts about the Carnation Revolution you may not know

  1. The 25th April is a national holiday, also known as ‘Freedom Day’ (Portuguese:’Dia da Liberdade‘)


  1. On the 25th April 1974 what initially began as a military coup to overthrow the Estado Novo (‘New State’) regime, was supported by an unprecedented civil campaign of resistance, resulting in the fall of the Estado Novo, and ended the rule of Marcello Caetano, who had assumed the country’s leadership from dictator António Salazar five years earlier.

  1. The ‘Carnation Revolution’ (Portuguese ‘Revolução dos Cravos ‘) is so called because almost no shots were fired and when the people took to the streets to celebrate the end of the dictatorship, carnations were put into the muzzles of rifles and pinned onto the uniforms of the army.


  1. The military coup was started by an airing of Portugal’s entry in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest. This was a secret signal that alerted the rebels to begin their coup.


  1. Portugal’s new regime pledged itself to end the colonial wars and began negotiations with the African independence movements. By the end of 1974, Portuguese troops had been withdrawn from Portuguese Guinea and the latter had become a UN member state. This was followed by the independence of Cape Verde, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe and Angola in 1975. The Carnation Revolution in Portugal also led to Portugal’s withdrawal from East Timor in south-east Asia. These events prompted a mass exodus of Portuguese citizens from Portugal’s African territories (mostly from Angola and Mozambique), creating over a million Portuguese refugees — the ‘retornados’. (Taken from Wiki)

Lisbon street art depicting the Carnation Revolution © Jeanne Menjoulet / Flickr

  1. Many local Juntas and Councils will frighten the life out of you by firing a seemingly random number of extremely loud cannon shots from the roof of the Junta building at about 7.45am on the 25th April .. well that is what Ferragudo Junta did this morning!
  1. Red carnations are a symbol of socialism and the labour movement, and historically have often been worn in European demonstrations on International Workers’ Day (May Day). Carnations originate from southern Europe along the Mediterranean Sea and were adopted as a symbol of socialism in 1889 in Paris at an International Socialist congress.


  1. ‘Freedom Day’ also commemorates the first free elections that took place a year later in Portugal on 25 April 1975.


  1. It is also a day for Portuguese people to remember that freedom of speech was something they had to fight for. Today they do not have to live in constant fear that there is an agent of the PIDE secret police listening to them or taking them (and their family) for interrogation (or maybe even torture or prison).


  1. When it was dedicated in August 1966, the 25th of April Bridge in Lisbon which spans the river Tagus, was initially named the Salazar Bridge after the long-time leader of the dictatorship. Soon after the revolution, the bridge was rechristened the Ponte 25 de Abril‘.


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4 Responses to 10 Facts about the Carnation Revolution you may not know

  1. samiveloso says:

    Even though 4 people died, everything went pretty well considering it was a coup overthrowing a dictatorship of 40 years. About 1 year later, our family was then part of the “retornados” from Mozambique.

    • Yes I cannot believe how it went .. especially as the dictatorship was so entrenched … and we have met several people that were part of the ‘retornados’ generation, many from Angola who started again over here with virtually nothing …

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