The beginning of the title of today’s post doesn’t really make sense in English, but is a Swedish expression (“Kärt barn har många namn“), which I thought was suitable for today’s date, the 12th October. I was reminded when reading Annika’s Monday post that it is Columbus Day* in the US today, as well as the Spanish National Day (la Fiesta nacional de España), Día de la Hispanidad and Día del Pilar which is the regional day of Aragón… The Spaniards always find an excuse to have una fiesta, but three celebrations in one day??
Basilica Nuestra Señora del Pilar in Zaragoza to the left, and the Cathedral La Seo in the centre of the photo.
So, why does the 12th October have three different names in Spain (not to forget the different names in other countries – click on the link on “Columbus Day” above to see them all)?
- Día de la Hispanidad: To celebrate the discovery of Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas in 1492. However, it is only according to the Julian calendar that the 12th October is the correct date, in our modern (Gregorian) calendar it should be celebrated on the 21st! Between 1981 and 1987 this was the official name of the Spanish national holiday.
- Día del Pilar: In Aragón the patron saint Our lady of the Pillar is celebrated on the 12th October. According to the legend the Virgin appeared in front of the apostle James the Greater (Santiago) on top of a pillar, and the Basilica-Cathedral in Zaragoza was built in her honour.
- Fiesta nacional de España: Since 1987 the official name of the Spanish national holiday, while the 6th December is the day of the Constitution, also a national holiday in Spain. According to the Wikipedia link, the date was chosen as a compromise between the conservative politicians who wanted to emphasise the importance of the monarchy and Spanish history, and the republicans who wanted a national day that celebrated the new democratic Spain.
I have yet to experience the celebrations of la fiesta del Pilar in Zaragoza, but I am hoping that we will be able to attend next year. O spoke to his parents this weekend and the whole family, including the parents who live in a small village 45 minutes away, was in Zaragoza for the festivities that always start the weekend before the 12th October.
The celebrations include concerts, processions (as the Spanish LOVE processions) and offering of flowers to the Virgin of the Pillar. But I can also see from O’s friends’ recent photos on Facebook that it means reunions with old friends who have left Zaragoza (I know that O used to try to go every year when he lived in Europe) and a lot of partying 😉
*) Columbus Day is actually celebrated on the second Monday of October, so not the 12th October every year. The second Monday in October is also Canadian Thanksgiving.