Yesterday was a big day in the Spanish calendar. October 12th is always a holiday, the national day of Spain. It commemorates the anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas, known as Columbus Day in the States. The first festival in Spain was held in 1935 in Madrid, celebrating Spain’s connection to the international Hispanic community.
Since 2000, a military parade has been added to the ceremony, with the King watching on. The Armed Forces Day involves a parade of dignitaries and a display from the Air Force, but this only occurs in Madrid. Overall it’s not an event that the Spanish people make a huge fuss over. It is overshadowed by Fiestas del Pilar – the Saint Day of Virgin Mary of the Pillar.
Columbus Day has – more in the Americas than Europe – been rife with controversy. Columbus traded in slavery, his quest was backed by investors and he paid them back in people. Thus, his reputation is tarnished to many contemporary eyes. In Spain it’s a lesser holiday by virtue of the religious festival taking place. The sins of man are less important than the grace of a saint.