Spain Hispanic Day is celebrated every October 12 to mark Christopher Columbus’ first landfall in the Americas. Did you know that Columbus was seeking a direct route to Asia when he discovered the Americas? Spain Hispanic Day, also known as Fiesta Nacional de España or Día de la Hispanidad, is an official holiday in most Hispanic America under different names. All government administrative buildings and offices, banks, and stores are closed for the day.
According to the Julian calendar, Christopher Columbus set sail from the port of Palos de la Frontera in South-West Spain on August 3, 1492. He landed on an island that is now part of the Bahamas in the Caribbean on October 12, 1492. The anniversary of this date is marked as Hispanic Day in Spain.
Events similar to Hispanic Day to mark the anniversary of the date Christopher Columbus first set foot in the Americas are also held in other countries. October 12 is known as Discovery Day in the Bahamas, Day of the Cultures in Costa Rica, Day of Cultural Diversity in Argentina, Chile and Mexico and the Day of Indigenous Resistance in Venezuela. The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States.
How is Hispanic Day celebrated?
Military parade and tribute to the national flag on Día de la Hispanidad
Although it is a national holiday throughout the country, the most important event is held in Madrid. Traditionally there is a military parade and a tribute to the national flag. It is attended by the king, the royal family and the most important representatives of all the powers of the state and the autonomous communities.
The reason for the military parade every October 12th is explained in the Royal Decree of 1987. It states that it is carried out “in order to enhance the commemoration of the Fiesta Nacional” and “to seek in it the full integration of all the historical and cultural elements that make up the Spanish nation”. In this way, the military parade was moved to the day of the Fiesta Nacional; as it “highlights the identification of the Armed Forces with the society they serve, uniting the most brilliant annual act of the Armed Forces with the other celebrations on this day”.
Virgen del Pilar Day, patron saint of Aragon and of the Civil Guard
October 12th is also the Day of the Virgen del Pilar, patron saint of Zaragoza and the Community of Aragon. The city celebrates its patron saint’s day on the same day with all kinds of religious, recreational and cultural activities. There is a mass in the Basilica del Pilar, a flower offering to the Virgin, a proclamation from the balcony of the town hall, a fair and shows. She is also the patron saint of the Civil Guard and other bodies.
But the Fiesta del Pilar has nothing to do with the discovery of America. It is a coincidence that Christopher Columbus set foot on the same day as the patron saint’s celebration. Since then, both festivities coincide on the 12th of October.
Santa María de Guadalupe de Extremadura, Reina de la Hispanidad
Although the Virgen del Pilar is not directly related to the National Day, Santa María de Guadalupe de Extremadura is. She has held the title of Queen of Hispanidad since October 12, 1928; when she was crowned by King Alfonso XIII. Since then, Guadalupe has celebrated the annual Fiesta de la Hispanidad. For example, there is a reminder of this coronation through a series of acts that culminate in the reception of a great parade.