This national holiday commemorates the exact date when Christopher Columbus first set foot on American ground.
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 12 October 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.
Did you know?
While the first voyage in 1492 was immensely significant, Columbus did not actually reach the American mainland until his third voyage in 1498.
How is Hispanic Day celebrated?
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 Madrid, there are plenty of other celebrations that take place throughout the rest of the country.
In the Autonomous Community of Aragon, this date also commemorates Our Lady of the Pillar (their patroness). It is also observed by the Civil Guard.
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.