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While only about a third of the population attends church regularly, almost all Portuguese are baptized and married within the church and receive its last rites when they die.
Religious observance is greater in the northern part of the country than in the south.
This means that nearly all the people are of the same ethnic group.
There is a small Muslim population of guest workers from North Africa and small Jewish and Protestant communities composed mainly of foreigners.
Those with the status of national holidays are Shrove Tuesday (in February or March), Good Friday (in March or April), Corpus Christi (in June), All Saints' Day (November 1), the Immaculate Conception (December 8), and Christmas (December 25).
Secular holidays include New Year's; Liberty Day (April 25), which commemorates the death of the national poet, Luiz Vaz de Camões, in 1580; Portugal Day (June 10), which celebrates the 1974 Revolution; Proclamation of the Republic Day (October 5), celebrating the founding of the Republic in 1910; and Restoration of Independence Day (December1).
Offerings to saints—intended to promote healing—hang on strings near many church altars.
In rural areas, villagers honor their patron saint during the annual festa. There is a procession, and people fulfill their religious vows (promessas) for the occasion.
The festivities may last several days and often include such non-religious elements as picnics, dancing, fireworks, and bullfights.
Images on these offerings depict whatever is to be (or has been) healed.
These include hands, heads, breasts, babies, and animals.
A democratic government was established and a new constitution was adopted in 1976.