10 oct 2013

Spanish National Holiday: 12th October

Amazing air display to celebrate 
the 12th October in Madrid 
The 12th October is one of the most important dates in the Spanish Calendar. Do you know why? Because 12th October is Spain’s National Holiday, a day dedicated to celebrating Spanish culture! The date was chosen to commemorate the arrival in the Americas of Christopher Columbus on behalf of the Spanish Crown.  Recently, in 2010, UNESCO designated the 12th October as the official Spanish Language Day as well! So today, Spanish-speakers around the world will be sharing their culture and history with the rest of the world. Read on to learn about this exciting festival!

Madrid celebrates!

The Spanish Armed Forces parade through 
Madrid to the Plaza de Colón
In Madrid, the Spanish National Holiday is marked by a splendid ceremony that not only expresses patriotism and national pride, but is also used to remember the world-changing discovery of America and the birth of the Spanish Empire, celebrate Spain’s history and culture, and give thanks to the sacrifice of the Spanish Armed Forces, past and present. Every year, a huge military parade makes its way through the heart of stunning Madrid to the Plaza de Colón, where the biggest flag in Spain is raised, and the soldiers march before the Royal Family. There is also an impressive display by the Spanish Air Force. Every year it is attended by the Royal Family, diplomats, foreign officials, leaders from other Autonomous Communities, other distinguished guests and of course, thousands of Madrileños! So if you’re in Madrid this week, there’s no excuse to miss the jaw-dropping ceremony!

Spain Unites to Celebrate its Culture

The main celebrations take place in Madrid, but of course all Spaniards take advantage of the national fiesta, meaning that most shops and businesses close for the day. The festivities in Madrid are also televised and enjoyed throughout Spain. But not only is 12th October Spain’s National Day, it is also the Feast of Our Lady of the Pillar ("El Pilar"), the Patron Saint of Spain! The feast is particularly important in Zaragoza, where the festivities go on for 9 days! It is clear to see that 12th October is one of the most important celebrations in the Spanish national calendar!

A Global Event

The Spanish reached America by accident, looking 
for a passage to India, on 12th October 1492, 
and changed the course of world history
But 12th October is not just important in Spain –countries throughout South America mark the anniversary of European arrival on the continent and remember their history. Known by many names – Día de la Raza (Day of the Race), Día de la Hispanidad (Day of Hispanicity), Día de las Culturas (Costa Rica), Día de las Américas (Day of the Americas, Uruguay), in the Americas the day is controversial, with some seeing it as the birth of a new way of life in the Americas, and others objecting to commemorating the creation of the colonial system and they systems of encomienda, slavery and systematic abuse of the indigenous and later African-American population. In Venezuela, for example, Hugo Chávez renamed the 12th October as “Day of Indigenous Resistance”. However, despite powerful arguments on both sides, all these countries are bound by a shared language and history – that of Spain.

If you’re not in Madrid today, try and do something to celebrate Spanish Culture… and if you are, come along!

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