Happy Hispanic Day / Fiesta Nacional de España


October 12, 2019

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Today is Spain’s National Holiday and is also known as Hispanic Day or Fiesta Nacional de España or Día de la Hispanidad (in Spanish).

This national holiday commemorates the exact date when Christopher Columbus first set foot in the Americas.

Columbus was attempting to find a western sea route to India. After leaving the Canary Islands, Columbus' ships had been sailing west for five weeks, when on the morning of October 12th 1492, land was spotted.

The sighting is recorded as having been made by a lookout, but Columbus insisted that he had seen a light from land a few hours earlier, therefore making sure that he was awarded a lifetime pension from the Spanish Royal family for being the first person to spot land.

They then made landfall at an island in the Bahamas, which he named San Salvador, though it is not sure which islands in the Bahamas this actually was.

Columbus' voyages across the Atlantic Ocean initiated the European exploration and colonization of the Americas.

A military parade in Madrid is a key part of the celebrations each year. The Presidente del Gobierno (Prime Minister) has a special role in the ceremony, only second to the King. Then a wide array of authorities, from foreign diplomats deployed in Spain to members of the Autonomous governments, are invited to attend the parade.

Apart from the huge parade in the capital, Madrid, there are plenty of other celebrations that take place throughout the rest of the country.

Note that public transport will run on a "Sunday service" with less frequency. Look out for "domingos y festivos" on timetables. Some shops will be closed, especially outside city centers and tourist destinations. Most restaurants will be open.