Columbus day

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Argentine poster for the Día de la Raza from 1947 during the first government of Juan Perón : For a strong, hard-working, pacifist and sovereign race!

In many countries, Christopher Columbus ' arrival in the New World is celebrated with a public holiday on October 12, 1492. Commemorations of the discovery of America , usually referred to as "Columbus Day" or "America Day", existed in parts of America as early as the 19th century. In the US , the day is still called Columbus Day . From 1915 onwards it was given the name Día de la Raza ("Race Day") in Spanish-speaking countries , as it was called throughout Latin America until the 1990s and is still known today, at least unofficially, in most Hispanic American countries. Since then, the holiday has been officially introduced in numerous states. In Spain , October 12th has been a national holiday since 1918 and has often been called Día de la Hispanidad (" Hispanic Day ") since the 1920s .

Latin America

In 1912 the Dominican Republic (where different names are used today) introduced the Día de Colón ("Columbus Day"); In 1915, the Día de las Américas ("America Day") was celebrated for the first time in Uruguay (where it is still called today ). Since 1915 the name Día de la Raza ("Race Day") prevailed, under which the festival was introduced as a public holiday in Argentina and Peru in 1917 and in Chile in 1921 . Other names were Día del Descubrimiento ("Discovery Day") or "Pan America Day". By the late 1920s, the majority of Hispanic American states had such a holiday; however, in some countries it was not introduced until the 1950s or 1960s. One can speak of a transnational holiday, which not only reminds of Columbus and the discovery of America, but should also strengthen the common Hispanic American identity and at the same time the cohesion between Spain and Latin America (also vis-à-vis the USA) by promoting the common linguistic, historical and cultural roots.

The Columbus commemoration on "America Day" is only widespread in the Spanish-speaking part of Latin America (Hispanic America). In Portuguese-speaking Brazil , like in other lusophone countries, a " Day of Lusophony " is celebrated instead , which is usually celebrated on the day of Luís de Camões' death on June 10, and above all in the wake of the authoritarian regimes of the Estado Novo in Brazil and Portugal in the 1930s also called “Day of Race” ( Dia da Raça ). Since then, June 10 has also been Portugal's national holiday .


In Spain , the Día de la Hispanidad (“Hispanic Day”) is celebrated on October 12th, which is also the patronage festival of the Spanish national shrine Our Lady on the Pillar in Saragossa , which is supposed to commemorate the common roots of the Spanish-speaking world. Under the name Fiesta de la Raza ("Festival of Race") or Día de la Raza , this holiday has existed since 1914. This name goes back to the Spanish politician Faustino Rodríguez , who was President of the Ibero-American Union in 1913. The day was announced in 1918 by King Alfonso XIII. raised without any further description to the Spanish national holiday ( Fiesta Nacional ). The name Día de la Hispanidad was invented as an alternative at the end of the 1920s by the Spanish-Argentinian clergyman Zacarías de Vizcarra and was increasingly used in Spain in the 1930s, among others at the instigation of the writer Ramiro de Maeztu . It was introduced in 1958 during the Franco dictatorship as the official name of the Spanish national holiday and confirmed as such in 1981 during the transition in Spain . Since 1987 the day has officially been called "National Day" again, although the name "Hispanic Day" continues to prevail in common parlance and is also used in semi-official sources. The day commemorates the Spanish colonial empire and the unification of Spain in the 16th century and is traditionally celebrated with a military parade in front of the Spanish king .

United States

The colors of the Italian flag on the Empire State Building on Columbus Day

As early as 1792 there were small, privately organized events along the east coast in New York, Boston, Baltimore, Providence and Richmond, commemorating Columbus and the discovery of America. An official holiday was first declared by President Benjamin Harrison in 1892 . In his proclamation he attached great importance to the fact that the holiday would be observed by the American schools in order to celebrate free education as a cornerstone of the USA and at the same time to gather more and more ethnically and socially diverse school children under the common American flag. The Pledge of Allegiance was also introduced on this occasion .

There was resistance to the celebrations as early as the 19th century because they were often felt to be too Catholic and thus “un-American”. Accordingly, Italian-Americans in particular campaigned for the introduction of a permanent holiday. Since the turn of the century, leading representatives of the Italian-American communities ( prominenti ) have called for the introduction of Columbus Day, often in cooperation with the Catholic Knights of Columbus and democratic politicians, both at the individual state and national levels . In New York , the introduction of a public holiday was first proposed in 1903, but was rejected by the majority of delegates and only introduced in 1909. Colorado was the first state to officially recognize Columbus Day in 1905 and began to celebrate it in 1907. By 1910 another 15 states had introduced the holiday and by 1921 it was celebrated in a total of 33 of the then 48 states. From 1934, October 12 was a national holiday that the President had to proclaim every year. Since 1937, Columbus Day has been celebrated as a nationwide mobile holiday on the second Monday in October across the country. It was established in 1968 as a permanent national holiday that no longer has to be proclaimed every year.

Protests, renaming and abolition

The holiday has long been the subject of controversial discussions in numerous countries, and in some cases renaming or abolition have been called for. In Chile the day has been called "Day of the Encounter of the Two Worlds" ( Día del Encuentro de Dos Mundos ) since 2000 , and in Peru since 2009 "Day of the Indigenous Peoples and Intercultural Dialogue" ( Día de los Pueblos Originarios y del Diálogo Intercultural ) and in Argentina since 2010 "Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity " ( Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural ). In Venezuela , Hugo Chavez declared it to be the “Day of Indigenous Resistance” ( Día de la Resistenca Indígena ) in 2002 ; in Bolivia it has been called "Day of Decolonization " ( Día de la Descolonización ) since 2011 ; in Ecuador it was renamed “Day of Interculturality and Plurinationality” ( Día de la Interculturalidad y la Plurinacionalidad ) in the same year . The holiday has not been celebrated in Cuba since the Cuban Revolution .

In the United States, protests against Columbus Day are associated with the American Indian Movement , a movement that has campaigned for the rights of American Indians since the 1960s and draws attention to abuses in American Indian policy . The 500th anniversary of the discovery of America in 1992 was used by many Native American organizations as an opportunity to initiate changes in language policy. Columbus Day in South Dakota was changed to American Indian Day as early as 1990 , and in 1992 Berkeley was renamed Indigenous Peoples' Day ("Day of the Indigenous Peoples"), with great interest from the media and with a model effect for other Californian cities and campuses of American elite universities and colleges ") instead of. In addition to South Dakota and Berkeley, Seattle , Minneapolis , Santa Cruz , Phoenix , Denver and the state of Vermont also renamed the holiday over the next 25 years . In 2017, Columbus Day was finally rededicated as Indigenous People's Day in Los Angeles, the largest commune to date, and the following year the Columbus Memorial was laid in Los Angeles' Grand Park. The measures came at the initiative of the Californian indigenist movement, while the Italian-American community, which Columbus regards as their compatriot, tried to keep the memorial day or to make it a public holiday for American immigrants of all origins.

Web links

Commons : Columbus Day  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Fredrick B. Pike, Hispanismo, 1898-1936: Spanish Conservatives and Liberals and Their Relations with Spanish America . U of Notre Dame P, Notre Dame 1971. p. 173.
  2. Kathleen Loock: Columbus in the USA. From national hero to ethnic identification figure . transcript, Bielefeld 2014, p. 190.
  3. La crisis catalana marca la celebración y el desfile presidido por los Reyes. In: La Vanguardia , October 12, 2017, accessed October 12, 2017.
  4. Kathleen Loock: Columbus in the USA: From national hero to ethnic identification figure. transcript, Bielefeld 2014, pp. 84, 87.
  5. Kathleen Loock: Columbus in the USA: From national hero to ethnic identification figure . transcript, Bielefeld 2014, pp. 91-101.
  6. a b Pablo Ximénez de Sandoval: Los Ángeles convierte el día de Colón en la fiesta de los Pueblos Indígenas. In: El País , October 13, 2017, accessed November 20, 2019.
  7. Kathleen Loock: Columbus in the USA: From national hero to ethnic identification figure . transcript, Bielefeld 2014, pp. 309-345.
  8. ^ Indígena protests on October 12th. In: Latin America News No. 197 (November 1990), accessed October 12, 2017.
  9. ¿Día de la Raza o Día de la Resistencia Indígena? In: Telesur , October 11, 2016, accessed on October 12, 2017.
  10. ^ Timothy Kubal, Cultural Movements and Collective Memory: Christopher Columbus and the Rewriting of the National Origin Myth . Palgrave Macmillan, New York 2008. pp. 65-69.
  11. Kathleen Loock: Columbus in the USA: From national hero to ethnic identification figure . transcript, Bielefeld 2014, pp. 33–37.
  12. El Día de los Indígenas. In: El País , November 13, 2018, p. 27.