2011 Spain’s Fiesta Nacional, Columbus Day, “El Pilar”

Today is 12 October 2011, a National Holiday in Spain. Every October 12th here is the “Día de la Hispanidad“, also known as “Fiesta Nacional de España” or “Columbus Day”, the day Christopher Columbus discovered The Americas. (hey, didn’t The Vikings already… nah, nevermind…)

Today is also “El Pilar“, one of Spain’s most important Virgin Saints. So if you know anyone named Pilar, or even María – which is short for “María del Pilar”, wish them a Happy Saint’s Day. The custom, in Spain, is for the person with that name to invite (i.e. pay) friends and family to a meal – but those attending are expected to bring gifts. And since today the saint’s day falls on a Wednesday, there’s no “Puente del Pilar” – a long weekend for the holiday – as in other years.

Back to Spain’s MILITARY parade today in Madrid, starting at 10:30am. It starts, oddly enough, at the Atocha train station on the Glorieta de Carlos V and travels north on the Paseo del Prado. At the Plaza Canovas (a.k.a. “Plaza de Neptuno” – the statue/fountain of Neptune) the parade will pause for recognition and ceremony with Spain’s King, Rey Juan Carlos. From there the parade will continue northbound, passing through the Plaza de Cibeles, continuing up the Paseo de Recoletos/Paseo de la Castellana, and finish at the Plaza de Colón.

This is the first time I’ve ever seen this route and direction of Spain’s “Día de la Hispanidad” military parade and have to wonder about the purpose behind it. After much research, I’ve come up with nothing. Any ideas or insights by my readers?

The parade will consist of the usual military personnel marching in step, rifles, tanks and other vehicles,  soldiers on horseback, military jets and prop-planes flying overhead, as well as brigades of military persons from other countries. A small group from the United States has often been represented in these parades, but not lately. Not sure why.

One should be able to watch the parade live online via TVE1, TVE24Horas, and/or even via the TelemadridSAT channel on the MadridMan’s Spain Radio, TV, Music & Movies page.

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