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Puente de Pilar / Día de la Hispanidad

Tuesday, 12th of October marks the combo-holiday of the Virgin Saint “El Pilar” (La Virgen del Pilar) and the “Fiesta Nacional de España” – a.k.a. “Día de la Hispanidad“, commemorating the day in 1492 when Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas. A “Puente “, in Spanish, literally means “bridge”, and is the custom of taking a holiday, like this one, effectively stretching the weekend, creating a “bridge holiday” or long weekend. All of these “Puentes” are often used for taking little trips within Spain or even abroad The Fiesta Nacional de España is a big deal to many in Spain. Not many really think of it as a celebration of Columbus’ discovery, however. Mostly, it’s a nationalist day.

About Hispanic Day

According to the Julian calendar, Christopher Columbus set sail from the port of Palos de la Frontera in South-West Spain on August 3, 1492. He landed on a island that is now part of the Bahamas in the Caribbean on October 12, 1492.The anniversary of this date is marked as Hispanic Day in Spain.

Events like Hispanic Day to mark the anniversary of the date Christopher Columbus first set foot in the Americas are also held in other countries. October 12 is known as Discovery Day in the Bahamas, Day of the Cultures in Costa Rica, Day of the Race in Argentina, Chile and Mexico and the Day of Indigenous Resistance in Venezuela. The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States.

How the Spanish People celebrate the day

The king of Spain supervises the raising of the Spanish national flag in the center of Madrid on Hispanic Day. He and the prime minister lead a military parade after that. The parade includes representatives from most of Spain's military units and various military vehicles. Armed forces' planes perform aerobatics above the parade route and display yellow and red smoke to represent the Spanish flag. Radio, television and Internet news services broadcast live on these events.

Hispanic Day is a day off work and an opportunity to spend time quietly at home or in the company of family members and close friends. People in the Aragon region in the north-east of Spain also commemorate Our Lady of the Pillar, their patron saint, on October 12.

Public Life

Hispanic Day is a national public holiday in Spain. Public life is generally quiet and many businesses and other organizations are closed. Many stores are closed but some bakers and food stores may be open. Public transport services generally run to a reduced schedule, although there may be no services in rural areas.

If October 12 falls on a Sunday, regional or local authorities can move the public holiday to a different date. If October 12 falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, many businesses and organizations are also closed on Monday, October 11, or Friday, October 13. Some people may use the long weekend to take a short vacation in Spain or abroad during these years.