May 30, 2024

This coming Sunday, 12 October 2008, is the Día de la Hispanidad in Spain and will be celebrated in Madrid in grand fashion with a 250,000€ military parade, resided over by the Royal Family as well as the President of Spain, Madrid City and Madrid Regional leaders.

The Día de la Hispanidad, a.k.a. Fiesta Nacional de España, is/was a celebration of Spain’s discovery of “America” by Christopher Columbus on this date in 1492. Of course, we all know that “America” was never lost but it seemed to have gone unnoticed by modern civilizations until that time – unless the Vikings were considered civilized, that is.

We Americans – whom grew up in the civilized and modern United States of America – know well what a military parade is all about. It’s about flag waving, singing national anthems, and patting each other on the back for being born in the USA.

For those attending the parade on Sunday it’ll largely be the same way – but all in Spanish. They’ll be flying Spanish flags, hearing the military bands playing national songs, and watching a LONG parade of probably all of Spain’s military hardware on wheels, military personnel, not to mention all the military aircraft fly-overs, parachuters, etcetera, etcetera.

I have to wonder, “Doesn’t Spain need all these people, all these tanks, all these generals in some war somewhere? Hmmm.. Maybe not at the moment. Imagine that. I guess if you don’t take them out at least once a year, blow off the dust, give the tanks a fresh coat of paint, then what good are they?

It’s a day for Nationalism. We Americans are nearly all Nationalists by right of our DNA. It’s difficult NOT being a Nationalist in the USA. It’s truly in our genetic code. One scientist (a German) jokingly told me that, under a microscope, one of our chromosomes appears as a bunch of white and red stripes and a blue box with some white dots in it. Huh! Imagine that. Even I get choked up when the USA stands on the #1 level in the Olympics, the American flag is raised, and they play the National Anthem. Why is that?

Anyway – this blog entry is about SPAIN’S National Day….

So it’s nearly the same in Spain during the Fiesta Nacional de España – EXCEPT maybe only HALF of the country is celebrating it – the Nationalists. The other half of Spain, fervently anti-Nationalist, is going about their business, taking trips, or sleeping most of the day because they were out late the night before.

SPAIN IS DIVIDED in this regard. While the original intention of the holiday is to celebrate Columbus’ discovery of America, along the way it became more of a “4th of July”-type day, celebrating the fact that we’re Spanish, and for patting each other on the back for being born in Spain. LOTS of people (and I mean LOTS) see this day as a carry-over from the 35 oppressive years under the nationalist fascist dictator General Francisco Franco when the military and the military police ruled Spain, executing hundreds of thousands of people and jailing many more for not agreeing with Franco’s nationalist politics.

I’ve attended the parade twice in my life. Frankly, unless you arrive at the Paseo de la Castellana early it’s difficult to see anything because of the hoards of people there before you with hopes of getting a good position to see the passing military regiments or a glimpse of the King of Spain himself. Sometimes I’ll watch it on TV but of course it’s not the same – but definitely more comfortable and there are no lines at the toilet.

People wanting to watch the Madrid parade from abroad can likely do so LIVE via TeleMadrid SAT – whose link is found on the Spain Radio, TV, Music, & Movies page. At 10:30am the King of Spain will reside over the raising of the HUGE flag of Spain in the Plaza de Colón. Shortly thereafter the parade will start at the Plaza de San Juan de la Cruz and travel to the Plaza de Colón via the Paseo de la Castellana, continuing down the Paseo de Recoletos and Paseo del Prado.

October 12th is also La Virgen del Pilar, a popular Saint’s Day in Spain. So if you have a friend or a family member named Pilar or María del Pilar
you’ll be obligated to celebrate this day as the Saint’s Day and not as
a Spain’s National Holiday. And, as with the birthdays here in Spain,
the person who celebrates their Saint’s Day must pay the bill at the
restaurant – and not the other way around.

So whether you’re celebrating El Pilar or the Discovery of America, enjoy yourselves!

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