Obscure Holiday in the US is a Big Deal in Spain

Try to keep your excitement under control: Columbus Day is coming. While post office employees and history buffs have been waiting, this holiday will pass unnoticed for most people. That is, unless they try to go to the post office or local library, most of which will be closed in memory of Christopher Columbus, first white guy to set foot in the Americas (sorry Leif Ericson, but you didn’t write it down).

But the U.S. is not the only nation that celebrates Columbus Day. So does Spain. Only they don’t call it Columbus Day. It carries the grand title: Dia de la Hispanidad. The day features parades and celebrations of Spanish culture. The Spanish and Portuguese-speaking Americas and Spain’s Iberian kin Portugal get in on the party this year with a celebration of Iberian and American culture called VivAmérica. There are festivals of art and film, concerts and lectures, and little or no mention of the bloody history of the colonization of South and Central America. Most of the festivities will take place in Madrid. The events run until October 12th. Parades also take place in some US cities with large Spanish-speaking populations.