Fiesta Nacional de España is a public holiday in Spain and takes place on the 12th of October each year. On this day the Spaniards celebrate the first steps of Columbus in The United States of America (by then still undiscovered). Spain is not the only country with a public holiday because of Columbus. In The United States of America this day is known as Columbus Day and in Latin America it is called Día de la Raza.
The adventure of Columbus
On the 12th of October in 1492 the Italian Cristoforo Colombo, mostly known as Christopher Columbus, discovered The United States of America. At that point, he didn’t know it was America. He actually thought he stood on Asian grounds (in India). He discovered the new continent because he was convinced the world was round and not flat like most people thought back in the days. To prove that, he sailed in the western direction from Spain and discovered America. Since that day, the Spanish Empire started growing and Spanish influences also reached the South of America.
Columbus and his bond with Spain
Even though Columbus was Italian, he had strong bonds with Spain. He had lived here a big part of his life and King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella from Spain sent him out to discover the new world. Therefore, at the end of Las Ramblas in Barcelona you will find the Columbus monument. The statue of Columbus is 7 metres high and placed on a 60 metres high tower, symbolically pointing with his finger to The United States of America.
Celebration in Spain: from Madrid tot Zaragoza
La Fiesta Nacional de España is celebrated everywhere in Spain, but not in all places in the same way. The biggest celebration is held in the capital of Spain: Madrid. In 1935, here the festival was held for the first time and since 1981 it became a public holiday.
In Madrid, the inhabitants celebrate La Fiesta Nacional de España with parades, bullfighting and waving the Spanish flag. The most famous parade is the military parade to which the highest powers and representatives of the state, the royal family and the president of the government attend. Furthermore, you will see army airplanes flying over, spreading the colours of the Spanish flag with smoke in the air.
Next to Madrid, Zaragoza is a place that is visited by thousands of people. In Zaragoza the holy virgin Mary has appeared on the 12th of October to an apostle of Jesus Christ. Therefore, a lot of festivities and processions are being organized in this municipality.
What do the Valencians do?
La Fiesta Nacional de España is a relatively quiet day for the Valencians. They have a day off and some of them take a short vacation because the 9th of October is a holiday as well. This day is known as ‘El Día de la Comunidad Valenciana‘, which is celebrated only in the community of Valencia. If the Valencians stay in the city, they mostly spend their time with family and friends. Most of the shops, offices and buildings of the government are closed, while some small supermarkets or bakeries are open. The majority of the sights will be opened too.
- Are you in Spain and would you like to attend the party in Madrid, but you can’t? You can watch the event on television or listen to the report on the radio.
- Most supermarkets will be closed, but if you need some groceries, the supermarket of warehouse El Corte Inglés and the Carrefour are usually opened.