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The History Man

This blog contains interesting facts about the history of Spain and things Spanish.

El Día de la Hispanidad - Spain's Fiesta Nacional
Tuesday, October 11, 2022 @ 12:00 PM

Tomorrow, 12 October, is El Día de la Hispanidad. As we know shops and offices will be closed, few people will go to work and many will go away for an extended weekend. But why? The History Man investigates…

Tomorrow in Spain is what we British call a Bank Holiday. El Día de la Hispanidad is the Fiesta Nacional de España, the national day of Spain. It is held annually on 12 October and is celebrated throughout Spain. It commemorates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s first arrival in the Americas, on Guananí Island, in the archipelago of the Bahamas.

It is a day also celebrated in other countries. It is known as Columbus Day in the United States and as Día de la Raza in various Hispanic American countries. Celebration of the anniversary in Spain dates to 1935 when the first festival was held in Madrid. The day was known as Día de la Hispanidad, emphasizing Spain’s connection to the Hispanidad, the international Hispanic community. On November 27th, 1981, a royal decree established Día de la Hispanidad as a national holiday.

However, on 7 October 1987, the name was changed to Fiesta Nacional, and 12 October became one of two national celebrations, along with Día de la Constitución on 6 December.

Spain’s “national day” had moved around several times during the various regime changes of the 20th century; establishing it on the day of the international Columbus celebration was part of a compromise between conservatives, who wanted to emphasise the status of the monarchy and Spain’s history, and Republicans, who wanted to commemorate Spain’s burgeoning democracy with an official holiday. The change in the name had the effect of removing all references to Spain’s historical colonialism, and even its ties to Latin America.

Ever since 2000, 12 October was celebrated each year with a military parade of some 4,000 soldiers (usually held in Madrid) and presided over by the Spanish king. However, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the parade was cancelled in 2020.

In 2021, however, the events took place as normal and they will this year also.

So, now you can celebrate El Día de la Hispanidad tomorrow along with your Spanish friends and neighbours, possibly knowing more about the rationale for and background to this feria than they do! Enjoy your day!


With acknowledgements to Wikipedia

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