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Flag flying days in Galicia


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» Galician flag flying days [proposal]
» Galician flag flying days [expanded]



Galician flag flying days

Most countries in Europe have a calendar of national holidays, religious celebrations, or military commemorations which are used as official flag flying days. The Galician government (Xunta de Galicia) publishes annually the national holiday calendar which is to be observed in Galicia. Based on the already-established Galician national holidays, and adding on them a number of dates of historical and cultural significance, we have listed a proposal of dates for Galician flag flying days (in chronological order):

National holidays and celebrations:
May 17 - Day of the Galician Language [Dia das Letras Galegas].
June 28 - Home Rule: First Statute of Autonomy of Galicia, 1936.
July 25 - St James, National Day of Galicia [Sant-Iago].
August 17 - Galician Martyrs Day.
September 17 - Coronation of King Afonso Raimundes and restoration of the Royal House of Galicia, 1111.
December 21 - Home Rule: Second Statute of Autonomy of Galicia, 1980.

Religious celebrations:

Two weeks before the Lent - Entroido or Carnival.
Friday before Easter - Venres Santo or Good Friday.
May 1 - Os Maios or May Day.
June 24 - San Xoán or St John.
November 1 - Todos os Santos or Halloween.
November 11 - San Martiño or St Martin of Tours.
December 8 - Immaculate Conception.
December 25 - Nadal or Christmas Day.

Civil celebrations:

January 1 - New Year's Day.
May 1 - Labour Day.

Military remembrance:

January 14 - Arrival in Galicia of the Irish refugees from the Battle of Kinsale, 1602.
April 3 - Battle of Najera, victory of the Atlantic alliance over the Mediterranean coalition, 1367.
April 26 - Battle of Cacheiras and Freedom Martyrs, 1846.
June 8 - Battle of Ponte San Paio: Liberation of Galicia from the French occupation, 1809.
September 1 - Battle of Tamaron, dethronement of the Royal House of Galicia, 1037.
December 17 - Execution of Marshal Pardo de Cela, beginning of the Dark Centuries, 1483.


St James, Patron Saint of GaliciaNational holidays and celebrations explained

July 25 - St James, St Jacob [Sant-Iago], National Day of Galicia

St James / St Jacob (Sant-Iago in Galician) has been the Patron Saint of Galicia since the 9th century AD, when his remains were 'discovered' just in the very same shrine where the Galician heretical bishop Priscillian was buried and worshiped. July 25th was declared St James' Day following the Martyrologium written in AD 865 by Gaulish monk Usuard de Saint-Germain-des-Prés. In the 12th century, the head of the Galician Church, Archbishop Diego Gelmires marketed effectively across all Europe the pilgrimage to St James, and Galicia became the main centre of religious pilgrimage in the world, overtaking Rome and Jerusalem. Since then, July 25th - St James' Day is the most important day of the year for the Galicians. In AD 1120 Diego Gelmires decided to wait until July 25th to publicily announce the great privileges given by the Pope to the Shrine of Santiago de Compostela. In AD 1386 the Duke of Lancaster decided to wait until July 25th to announce himself as the new king of Galicia, in the city of Corunna. After the five Dark Centuries under Castilian rule (centuries 15th-20th), July 25th was again restored in 1920 as the National Day of Galicia. The Franco dictatorship forbade the celebration of the Galician national Day, however, exiled Galicians kept celebrating it all around the world. July 25th 1948 was the date when the President of the Galician Government in exile, Mr. Afonso Rodriguez-Castelao, read his famous speech Alba de Groria ("Glorious Dawn") in the Galician House [Centro Gallego] of Buenos Aires. The celebration of the Galician National Day was still forbidden by the Spanish authorities even several years after the end of the Franco dictatorship. July 25th has been the National Day of Galicia for over a millennium and therefore is the main flag flying day of the year.

May 17 - Day of the Galician Language [Dia das Letras Galegas]
First Statute of Autonomy of Galicia, 1936In 1863 Galician poet Rosalia de Castro published her book "Cantares Gallegos" (Galician Songs), which is considered to have been the first milestone in the Galician Cultural Revival of the 19th century. In 1963, one century after the book was first printed, the Royal Academy of Galicia (Real Academia Galega) decided to dedicate one day of the year to honour the Galician language and the Galician intellectuals. Every year May 17th is Dia das Letras Galegas, a Galician national holiday on which the Galicians honour their language and culture.

June 28 - Home Rule: First Statute of Autonomy of Galicia, 1936
In June 28th 1936 Galicia organised a referendum to decide her political future. In those days, every single issue dealing with Galicia was decided and dispatched from Madrid. The referendum had been the result of many years of work by the Partido Galeguista ("The Galician Party"), who campaigned for a devolved government for Galicia. The popular consultation was asking the Galicians whether they wanted to become a self-governed country, albeit participating in a federal union with Spain. Out of 1,343,135 people with the right to vote, 993,351 Galicians voted "YES" for a Home Rule Act for Galicia, (Statute of Autonomy) against only 6,161 people who voted "no". On June 28th, the Galicians decided to govern themselves as a nation while still being part of a new federal Spanish state.

August 17 - Galician Martyrs' Day

One month after the Galicians had voted for political autonomy in 1936, general Franco tried a military coup and started a war against the Spanish government. General Franco counted with the military help of allies such as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. The war caught Galicia by surprise and the Franco army ceased power rapidly, starting a political purge that can be compared, in number of victims, to the ones commited in the former Yugoslavia. Galician Martyrs Day, marking the assassination of Alexandre Boveda, 17 August 1936The victims of that political purge were Galician activists and anyone who was opposed to the military regime of general Franco. According to the professor of the University of Santiago, Mr. Ramon Maiz, the Franco militias assassinated between 27,000 and 30,000 men and women who were suspected of being Galician activists, trade unionists, or intellectuals opposed to the coup. Those men and women were chosen and assassinated name by name, house by house, by night and by day. Almost all the men who wrote the Home Rule Act of Galicia were executed. Most of the 3,000 members of the Partido Galeguista ("The Galician Party") were executed. Many more people managed to escape to the Americas or to Europe: town mayors, politicians, professors, lawyers, researchers, civil servants, writers, artists... The killing and exile of so many educated people left Galicia in a precarious intellectual situation that lasted for the rest of the century and has been qualified of "cultural genocide" by the Galeguistas. The atrocities that were commited in Galicia by the military forces of general Franco destroyed lives, destroyed families, and destroyed a country that was enjoying a cultural and political revival. One of those many Galicians assassinated by the Spanish nationalists was Mr. Alexandre Boveda, Secretary of Organisation of the Partido Galeguista. In the dawn of August 17th 1936 Mr. Boveda was taken to a nearby hill, tied to a tree, and shot several times. Alexandre Boveda was 33 years old, was married and had five children. Like many other Galicians, he was Christian catholic. Days after his assassination, the military chopped down the tree where he was killed because the local people had started to take pieces of it as religious relics. Marking the assassination of Alexandre Boveda, the Galician Government in exile proclaimed in 1942 the 17th of August as the Galician Martyrs' Day, a day to honour all the thousands of men and women that were killed and died for Galicia.

September 17 - Coronation of King Afonso Raimundes and restoration of the Royal House of Galicia, 1111

For many centuries, the kingdoms of Galicia and Leon belonged to Galician royal dinasties born in Galicia, educated in Galicia, and buried in Galicia. That changed after the Battle of Tamaron in 1037, when king Vermudo III of Galicia and Leon was defeated by count Fernando I of Castile. As a result of the defeat, a foreign Castilian dinasty sat on the thrones of Galicia and Leon for almost half a century. The fact is that the Galicians were not happy having foreign kings, so they revolted against their second Castilian king Alfonso VI in 1085. The 1085 revolt was crushed and the Galicians were punished severely. Afonso Raimundes, Rex Gallaeciae (1111-1157) in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, GaliciaEven the head of the Church of Galicia, Bishop Diego Pelaes, was sent to exile after being accused of conspiring to crown William I 'The Conqueror' of England as the new King of Galicia. Alfonso VI was too unpopular in his Galician kingdom, therefore the Castilian king decided to delegate the government of Galicia on Earl Raymond of Burgundy, but before that, he splitted the Kingdom of Galicia in two, for he knew the strategy of "divide and conquer". Northern Galicia was governed by Earl Raymond of Burgundy and southern Galicia was handed out to his cousin Henry of Burgundy. The Galicians accepted rapidly the two burgundians. Historically, Galicians and Burgundians had got along rather well since the 6th century alliance of both kingdoms, when King Gontran of Burgundy sent troops to help out King Andeca of Gallaecia against the Hispanic-Visigoths. Five centuries later, Earl Raymond of Burgundy arrived to Galicia and was received with friendship by Earl Pedro Froilaz de Trava, the greatest Galician nobleman ever. In exchange, Raymond gave his son Afonso Raimundes in fosterage to Earl Froilaz. Raymond of Burgundy governed the Kingdom of Galicia during two decades with the support of the Galicians, and on his death in 1107 he was buried with royal honours next to other Kings of Galicia at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Galicia needed a new king and that king had to be Galician. During all those years, young Afonso Raimundes had been educated as a future king by the greatest noble of Galicia, Earl Pedro Froilaz de Trava, and by the head of the Church of Galicia, Bishop Diego Gelmires. The Galician nobility and the Galician Church needed allies abroad if they really wanted to restore a Galician king back in the Galician throne. Burgundy sent to Galicia their Archbishop Guy de Vienne -later Pope Calixtus II- who was the brother of Earl Raymond and the uncle of prince Afonso Raimundes. Galicians and Burgundians agreed that prince Afonso Raimundes was their man. In September 17th 1111, in a glamorous ceremony in Santiago Cathedral, prince Afonso Raimundes was crowned King Afonso VII of Galicia by Bishop Diego Gelmires. Moreover, in 1135 Afonso Raimundes recovered also the kingdoms of Leon and Castile. In September 17th 1111, less than a century after the Battle of Tamaron, Galicia had managed to restore a Galician Royal House, born in Galicia, educated in Galicia, buried in Galicia; a Galician dinasty that lasted with the kings Second Statute of Autonomy of Galicia, 1980Fernando II of Galicia and Leon (1157-1188), Afonso IX of Galicia and Leon (1188-1230), and Fernando III of Galicia and Leon (1230-1252).

December 21 - Home Rule: Second Statute of Autonomy of Galicia, 1980

On December 21st 1980, almost half a century after the people of Galicia had voted for their First Home Rule Act (Statute of Autonomy), the Galicians were called to vote in a new referendum to confirm whether they still wanted political devolution. The level of political autonomy to be approved was rather limited when compared with the 1936 Statute, and the Galician political parties were greatly divided about whether to vote for it or against it. Despite a confusing political climate, on December 21st a 73% of the voters decided to say "YES" to a Second Home Rule Act (Statute of Autonomy) which brought back to Galicia a Galician legislative Parliament, a Galician executive Government, and a Galician High Court of Justice.



Religious holidays and civil celebrations explained
Celtic cross over the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
Religious holidays:
All countries in Europe have a number of public holidays in their calendar which were originally celebrated as a Christian (or christianised) religious holiday. Many countries with a strong flag flying tradition take those public holidays as an occasion to display their national flag in a festive atmosphere. In Galicia the most important religious celebrations of the calendar are: Entroido or Carnival (Latin: "carne vale") which was a period on which carnal pleasures were moderately allowed, Easter or Good Friday, marking the Resurrection of Jesus Christ; Os Maios or May Day, a spring fertility festival (May 1); San Xoán or St John, summer solstice (June 24); Todos os Santos or All Saints' Day, known as Halloween or Samhain, day of the dead (November 1); San Martiño or St Martin of Tours, 'Os Maios', a spring fertility festivalautumn equinox and end of the agrarian year (November 11); Immaculate Conception celebrating that the Virgin Mary was spared of the Original Sin (December 8); Nadal or Christmas Day, birthday of the Christ (December 25). All those dates are set according to the religious calendar of the Roman Catholic Church, which is the most followed Christian rite amongst the Galician population. Yet, some of those religious holidays do still retain an old Celtic-pagan flavour which is also found in other parts of Europe, for example Os Maios (also celebrated in parts of Britain and Ireland); the solstice bonfires of San Xoán (also celebrated in parts of Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia); Todos os Santos or Samhain, (still celebrated in Galicia although it spread around the world after the Irish exported it to the United States as 'Halloween'); the equinox and end of the agrarian year on San Martiño (also celebrated in parts of Scandinavia, Ireland and Britain).

Civil celebrations:
The holiday calendar has also a number of civil celebrations, the most important being New Year's Day (January 1) and Labour Day (May 1). The celebration of the first one seems obvious, since for practical reasons not many Galicians would be in conditions of going to work after the drinking of the night before. The second celebration, May 1, commemorates the rights of the workers and is still a public holiday in many countries in Europe and around the world.


King Vermudo II of Galicia and LeonMilitary remembrance days explained

September 1, Battle of Tamaron, dethronement of the Royal House of Galicia, 1037:
King Vermudo II of Galicia and Leon and his vassal Count Fernando I of Castile were in disagreement about the territorial limits of the Castilian county. In 1037 both men and their armies met at the Battle of Tamaron. The King of Galicia was killed in the fight and the Castilian count gained the throne of Galicia and Leon. At first sight, the Galician defeat may not seem that important, for in 1111 King Afonso Raimundes regained the Galician Crown and restored the Galician Royal House. However, the Castilian kings that ruled over Galicia during those years applied the tactic of "divide to conquer" and splitted the Kingdom of Galicia in two. The southern half of the Kingdom later on became the country of PortuGal, the "Port of Galicia" and walked away from the north of Galicia. The defeat at the Battle of Tamaron on September 1st 1037 was an unfortunate event that changed the historical course of Galicia ever since.

April 3 - Battle of Najera, victory of the Atlantic alliance over the Mediterranean coalition, 1367:
For several centuries a Galician Royal House had ruled over the kingdoms of Galicia, Leon and also Castile. During the Succession War of Castile (1366-1371) the Galicians tried to restore a king of their own and regain the political power that they had been losing in the past century. The Galicians supported King Pedro I, heir of Afonso XI and Maria of Portugal, and cousin of the Prince of Wales. The Castilians supported his bastard brother Enrique of Castile. With the support of the Galicians, King Pedro I reigned over Galicia, Leon and Castile from 1350 until his bastard brother Enrique usurped the throne in 1369 with the help of Castilian, Aragonese, Catalan and French troops. King Pedro I escaped to the Kingdom of Galicia, where he prepared a military alliance of Galicians, Portuguese and British. In April 3rd 1367 the Battle of Najera, 3 April 1367Atlantic alliance of King Pedro I defeated the Mediterranean coalition of Enrique of Castile at the Battle of Najera. The king of the Galicians regained yet again the control of Leon and Castile for two more years, until his bastard brother Enrique treacherously stabbed the King and killed him in March 23rd 1369. The Galicians would not accept Enrique as their king, so they offered the Crown of Galicia to Fernando I of Portugal, the last king of the Galician-Burgundian Royal House. Fernando I of Portugal reigned over Galicia until the Castilian armies conquered the Kingdom in 1371. The daughters of Pedro I, Constanza and Isabela, were taken to safety and married with John of Gaunt and Edmund of Langley respectively, both sons of King Edward III Tudor of England and brothers of the Prince of Wales, and who had fought together with the Galicians in the Battle of Najera. When John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster and Constanza married, the Galicians set their eyes upon him as the rightful heir of King Pedro I. The Duke of Lancaster was made regent of the Kingdom of England and used his power to side England with Portugal in the Battle of Aljubarrota, in August 14th 1385, where the Castilian-French coalition was defeated yet once more. Following the victory in Aljubarrota, the Duke of Lancaster left England and sailed to Galicia to claim the Galician throne as the rightful heir of King Pedro I. On July 25th 1386, St James' Day, the Duke of Lancaster arrived to Corunna with his family -princess Constanza and their daughters- and an army of 1500 archers and soldiers. As the Kingdom of Galicia sided with the Duke of Lancaster, the Castilians knocked again on the French door asking for help. The Atlantic alliance had won in Najera and Aljubarrota, and a third victory over the Castilians would give Galicia the control of the neighbouring kingdoms of Leon and Castile. However, in spring 1387, only some weeks before the battle, the Lancasterian troops were contaminated with Black Death. As his army was being decimated by death and illness, the Duke of Lancaster accepted to enter into peace talks with king Juan I of Castile and then retreated back to England. The Kingdom of Galicia was left exhausted after so many years of war, and the Castilians took advantage of this to punish and take control of the country. Flying the flag on April 3rd, day of victory in the Battle of Najera, is a reminder of an ambitious Kingdom of Galicia who played to win, and that won thanks to the Atlantic alliance with the Portuguese and the British.

December 17 - Execution Marshal of Pardo de Cela, beginning of the Dark Centuries, 1483:
Marshal Pedro Pardo de Cela, executed in Mondoñedo the 17 December 1483The Kingdom of Galicia had been left in a very weak condition after the Succession wars for Pedro I and the Duke of Lancaster. Yet, the Galicians made a final attempt to get a king of their own during a new Succession War of Castile (1475-1479). The Galicians were supporting the Atlantic party represented by Queen Juana 'Beltraneja' and King Afonso V of Portugal. The Castilians were supporting the Mediterranean party represented by Queen Isabel The Catholic' and Fernando of Aragon. The Castilian-Aragonese party seized power in Castile but not in Galicia. The military leadership of the Galicians had been assumed by Earl Pedro 'Madruga' de Soutomaior and by Marshal Pardo de Cela. Pardo de Cela was a lord from northern Galicia who was married to the daughter of the Earl of Lemos, and that would make him the heir of the most important estates in the Kingdom of Galicia. His military leadership and his vast estates put him in the right position to be the man who would be the new King of the Galicians. However, in 1483 after eight long years of war Marshal Pardo de Cela was captured by Castilian troops and put to death in public execution at the city of Mondoñedo. Tradition has it that when the Marshal was beheaded, his head went rolling around to the gate of the Cathedral while shouting "CREDO, CREDO, CREDO!" (I BELIEVE, I BELIEVE, I BELIEVE!). On December 17th 1483 the last leader of the Kingdom of Galicia was executed by the Castilians, marking the starting of the so called "Dark Centuries" of Galicia (Séculos Escuros) and the beginning of a strategy of Castilian colonisation which the historian of the Crown of Castile, Jerónimo de Zurita, called "Tame and Castration of the Kingdom of Galicia".

January 14 - Arrival in Galicia of the Irish refugees from the Battle of Kinsale, 1602:
Ireland, AD 1592. Earl Hugh O'Neill rebelled against England and started the long Nine Years War. Castilian king Felipe III saw in this an opportunity to put a foot in Ireland and punish his foe the Queen of England. In 1601 several thousand soldiers from the kingdoms of Galicia and Castile left the port of Corunna and headed to Ireland. Part of the troops under the command of Castilian captain Juan de Aguila got lost in the Atlantic or were captured by the English as they arrived in Ireland. On the other hand a contingent of troops commanded by the Galician Alphonso Ocampo managed to reach chieftain O'Donnell in Castlehaven, where they joined forces and marched to challenge the English at the Battle of Kinsale, Remembrance of the Battle of Kinsale, where Galician troops supported the Irish rebelionnear the city of Cork. The Galicians fought together with Irish Earls O'Neill and O'Sullivan. Captain Ocampo fought bravely and was called a "gallant leader" by Thomas D'Arcy McGee in his Popular History of Ireland. Eventually, the English crushed the rebellion and the Irish Earls had to choose between leaving the country or be killed. Thousands of men, women and children left Ireland, most of them sailing from Galway and Waterford down to Corunna. The Kingdom of Galicia became the new home for many Irish families who had escaped the English repression of the Irish rebels. One of the new gaelic-galicians was chieftain O'Donnell, who escaped from Castlehaven on January 6th 1602 and arrived to Corunna on the 14th, where he was received with great honour. One of the first things he did upon his arrival was to "visit the Tower of Betanzos [Corunna], where according to bardic legends the sons of Milesius left to the IsIe of Destiny [Ireland]". After Corunna, the city of Santiago de Compostela was the other most important destination for the Irish refugees. An "Irish College" was founded in Santiago in 1603 in order to provide an education to the children of the new Gaelic-Galicians, counting among them some of the people of the O'Sullivan clan. Three years earlier, the Abbot of the Franciscan convent of Santiago de Compostela had left to Ireland to become the new Archbishop of Dublin. In 1992, commemorating the 390 anniversary of the Galician help to the people of Ireland, the Grammy-award winning composer of Riverdance, Bill Whelan, brought together the best musicians of Ireland and Galicia to the symphony "From Kinsale to Corunna". January 14th, date of the arrival of chieftain O'Donnell to Galicia, shall serve to remember the many Galicians that gave their lives in Kinsale fighting together with the Irish.

June 8 - Battle of Ponte San Paio: Liberation of Galicia from the French occupation, 1809:
Scottish regiment "Black Watch" fighting at the Battle of Corunna, GaliciaIn 1808 Napoleon Bonaparte invaded the kingdoms of Spain and the kingdom of Portugal as a part of his ambitious strategy for total domination of Europe, but the Kingdom of Galicia did not accept the French military invasion. Therefore, while Spain was occupied and governed by the French authorities, Galicia became again a sovereign nation between 1808-1809. The first policies of the new Galician government (Junta Suprema del Reino de Galicia) was to re-establish international relations with Great Britain and to organise the military defense of Galicia. The British came quickly to give a hand to the Galicians, sending some 14,000 men under the command of Scottish general Sir John Moore. The two Atlantic allies got ready to defend the city of Corunna from the French armies of Napoleon, who sent his best man to Galicia: Marshall Soult, 'Generalissimo de France'. John Moore died in the Battle of Corunna on January 16th 1809, together with other 8,000 more British soldiers, and the city was briefly occupied by the French troops. The Scottish general was buried with the highest honours in Corunna, in front of the Royal Archives of Galicia, where the Galician national poet Rosalia de Castro wrote him the poem "You are so far, far from the mist, far from the forest, far from the waves of the country where you were born!". After Moore, the command of the British troops was taken over by the Irishman Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, one of the most capable military men of the 19th century. About the same time some 1,200 Galician students -the Literary Battallion- were marching out the city of Santiago to chase the French out of Galicia. In June 8th 1809 the Galician army, helped by British and Irish troops, liberated Galicia from the French at the Battle of Ponte San Paio. Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, honoured his Galician soldiers saying: "Soldiers of the civilised world, learn from the men I have under my command… Spaniards, learn from the unimitable Galicians". On June 8th 1809, in Ponte San Paio, the Kingdom of Galicia became the first European kingdom to get rid of the French occupation. Six years later, in 1815, the Duke of Wellington finished off the job he started in Galicia, defeating Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo.

April, 26 - Battle of Cacheiras and Freedom Martyrs, 1846:
Monument to the Freedom Martyrs of 26 April 1846 in CarralYears after the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and the Society of the United Irishmen, the Galicians were also to have their very own national rebellion against Spain. On April 2nd 1846 the military command of the Galician city of Lugo declared rebellion against the Spanish Crown. On April 15th a Government of Galicia (Junta Superior del Reino de Galicia) was established in the city of Santiago de Compostela with Pio Rodriguez-Terrazo as President and Antolin Faraldo as Secretary. Madrid sent over immediately an army with orders to crush the Galician rebellion. One week later, a much superior Spanish army defeated the Galicians at the Battle of Cacheiras. Part of the Galician troops regrouped in Santiago and fought the Spaniards in the streets of the city. The last rebels found shelter in the monastery of San Martiño Pinario, somehow predicting what would happen to the Irish rebels who sheltered in the Post Office of Dublin on April 1916. Eventually the Galicians surrendered to the Spanish troops, but the Spaniards, fearing a popular uprising, took the rebel leaders far away from the city out to the village of Carral, where they secretly executed them in a forest on the very same day 26th of April. The bodies were buried in graves with no names at the local chapel of Paleo. Years later, the Galician League of Corunna (Liga Galega da Cruña) erected a monument in the village of Carral in remembrance of the Freedom Martyrs (Mártires da Liberdade). The monument features the Holy Grail of the Kingdom of Galicia and a dedication to the "Freedom Martyrs killed on April 26th 1846".


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