Columbus Day in Spain

Last week was quite eventful for me. As you may know, October 12 is a “special” holiday for Hispanics: Día de la HispanidadFiesta Nacional de España (Spain’s National Day or Columbus Day). But unlike U.S., Spain celebrates it on the actual day, not on the nearest Monday. Since I had off that Wednesday, I went to the Columbus Day parade in Madrid, at the Plaza de Colón and Cibeles. It was quite a spectacle.

I must say, Spaniards in Madrid really go all out to celebrate that Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas theory…

Anyway, here’s a little background history from Wikipedia:

Since 1987, Spain has celebrated the anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in the Americas as its Fiesta Nacional or “National Day”.Previously Spain had celebrated the day as Día de la Hispanidad, emphasizing Spain’s ties with the Hispanidad, the international Hispanic community. In 1981 a royal decree established the Día de la Hispanidad as a national holiday. However, in 1987 the name was changed to Fiesta Nacional, and October 12 became one of two national celebrations, along with Constitution Day on December 6. 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 emphasize the status of the monarchy and Spain’s history, and Republicans, who wanted to commemorate Spain’s burgeoning democracy with an official holiday. Since 2000, October 12 has also been Spain’s Day of the Armed Forces, celebrated each year with a military parade in Madrid. Other than this, however, the holiday is not widely or enthusiastically celebrated in Spain; there are no other large-scale patriotic parades, marches, or other events, and the observation is generally overshadowed by the feast day of Our Lady of the Pillar (Fiestas del Pilar).

While it was a relatively quick event, I thought it was well organized and somewhat entertaining. Some of the armed forces that really caught my eye were the Esquiadores (skiers), wearing white uniforms, clearly heavy camouflage backpacks and some other gears. They looked so neat and so…not happy to be carrying over 50 pounds of armaments on their backs while marching for over an hour. Oopsie. But it was beautiful. The other group that caught my eye was La Legion Española (The Spanish Legion) who every year apparently marches with a goa I thought it was funny. I’m posting the videos later on, but for now, a couple of pictures.