Since When Is October 12 a National Holiday?
The following Wednesday, October 12 is a national holiday: as you well know, it is the commemoration of the day when Columbus discovered America, in 1492 (almost 520 years ago). Almost certainly, someone has told you that it was not Columbus, but the Vikings, who first reached America, but that is a separate issue and, given the fact that we have no proofs whatsoever of this, the official date of the discovery is still the one we celebrate.
And yet, since when do we celebrate it? Evidently, Columbus did not tell the Catholic Monarchs as soon as he got back that the day he set foot on a previously unknown continent had to be turned into a national holiday for which parades had to be organised and schools had to remain shut.
Nevertheless, appearances to the contrary, this tradition is far newer than we think: the first ‘Día de la Hispanidad’ (‘Hispanic Day’) (back then known as the ‘Fiesta de la Raza Española’, or the ‘Feast of the Spanish Race’) was held in 1914 as a simple party in the Casa Argentina of Málaga, akin to the sort of celebration we might find today at any school for Christmas day.
The party was popular but it took four years until it reached Madrid and became a national holiday. The funny thing is, in Argentina it had been one since 1917. And obviously, once it is a national holiday, it must come together with an army parade.
Curiously, however, not only is it celebrated here in Spain, but it is held throughout America, even though it has different names: ‘Día de la Raza’ (‘Day of the Race’), ‘Día del Descubrimiento’ (‘Discovery Day’) or ‘Día de las Américas’ (‘Day of the Americas’)
It is even celebrated in the United States! But they call it ‘Columbus Day’, and it takes place on the Monday closest to October 12 (they tend to like having long weekends, over there). The weirdest thing, however, is that the Italians are especially fond of the date. Although, on the other hand, it makes sense: let’s not forget that Christopher Columbus was from Genoa (Italy).
Now you know a little bit more about this holiday. Hope you have a great time, rest a lot and tell your family since when we celebrate it!
If you want to read this post in Spanish follow this link