The “Dia da Pátria” (‘Day of the Galizan Fatherland’) – officially “Dia Nacional da Galiza” (‘Galiza’s National Day’) – stands out in the calendar as both the most politically charged date but also as the major celebration of the Galizan Nation as a whole.
In other words, this is the day when Galizanness is honoured in full, not just from a festive, rhetorical or cultural point of view, but definitely as a political claim.
The first formal celebration dates back to 1919, when the Galizanist organisation Irmandades da Fala chose this day, after much debate, as it is the day dedicated to St. James, (Christian) patron saint of both Galiza and its capital city, Compostela. It was believed that it was necessary to pick an already relevant holiday such as this one as it was already linked to the folk and popular celebration of both the country, the capital and still a number of other towns and villages.
It was commemorated openly until the Francoist dictatorship (1939-1977), when any display of non-Spanish nationalism was strictly prohibited and often brutally repressed. Nonetheless, during that period the National Day would still be celebrated by the Galizan communities abroad. Meanwhile back home, Galizanists would gather under the pretext of offering a mass for cultural icon Rosalia de Castro.
From 1968 onwards Galizanists attempted to celebrate the day in the capital, now with a clear political overtone. Calls were made for public demonstrations every 25th of July, although these demonstrations would invariably result in clashes with the Spanish police. Even after 1977, demonstrations would still be forbidden. It is only during the mid-1980s when the National Day started to, gradually, be celebrated with some degree of normality.
At present, the political and institutional activities are normally all based in Compostela, and the day is an official public holiday solemnly observed by the Galizan Government. Apart from that, a myriad of events gathering tens of thousands take place from the night of the 24th until the wee hours in the morning of the 26th
All the same, this is always a date with profound political connotations, when all pro-independence and true Galizan patriots take the streets in a mix of celebration, pride and struggle. This is our day.