Monday 12th October, 2020 is the Spanish public holiday ‘Hispanic Day.’ This is the commemoration of the day that Christopher Columbus first landed in the Americas. His voyage of discovery began on 3rd August 1942, when he left Palos de Frontera in South West Spain, subsequently landing on October 12th of the same year on one of the Caribbean islands, which today belongs to the Bahamas.
Bank Holiday Celebrations curbed
Like any bank holiday, Hispanic day is an opportunity to either relax in the comfort of home or get out and do what the Spanish are known to do in abundance, celebrate. However, the threat of Covid 19 in our midst curbed celebrations this year, to a certain extent.
Traditional Hispanic Day
Traditionally, Spain’s King oversees the national flag of being raised on Hispanic Day. This act commemorates the fallen and takes place in the country’s capital, Madrid. An awards ceremony then takes place and is followed by a military parade through Paseo de la Castellano, by the monarch and the prime minister, together with army personnel and vehicles. Typically the Spanish air force displays the colours of the Spanish flag through red and yellow smoke, released from their aircraft, during a special performance for the event. The entire festivities are broadcast on live tv for the entire country to enjoy in the comfort of their homes.
Hispanic Day during 2020 Pandemic
Today, September 12, 2020 saw a very different Hispanic Day than normal, due to Covid 19 restrictions. The public parade was removed from the celebrations and instead a parade was held in the privacy of the Royal Palace of Madrid’s Armeria Square. The usual ceremonies took place ie the raising of the flag by King Felip VI and the presentation of awards, with the parade including 527 army personnel. The Spanish Legion took pride of place as it celebrates its Centennial this year.
Regional Leaders Attended
The ceremonies were overseen by most of Spain’s regional leaders. Frontline workers, including emergency services, were represented at the event. There was no air display and no official reception inside the palace. However, there were hundreds of people outside the gates, united in acclamation of the king and Margarita Robles, the Spanish Defence Minister, thanked Spanish soldiers stationed abroad, for their services, by video link.
Protests mixed with Exuberance
While the event itself may have been low key compared to previous years, the sentiment was no less sincere. Gratitude towards workers who have been at the front line of the pandemic was expressed and their toil acknowledged. The royal family officiated at the celebrations and though there was the taint of protests against the central government, mixed in with the exuberance of the crowds outside the palace, Hispanic Day 2020 commemorated Christopher Columbus’s historic landing, despite the restraints Covid 19 has put on countries all across the world.