Columbus Day a.k.a. El Día de la Raza

Columbus Day a.k.a. El Día de la Raza

I was looking for another fun holiday to celebrate….and I found today, the 12th of October!  But now I find that it seems to be a rather mixed-feelings kind of day.

It seems that in North America it is Columbus Day.  A day to remember that day in 1492 when Columbus sailed the Ocean blue….and discovered America.  When I was little, I only heard good things about Columbus and his discoveries! 🙂

Now I’m older and the world isn’t so rosy.

It turns out that there are a lot of people who are not happy with Columbus and the things he did.  Ok, we all know that he set off to find wealth and riches, preferably gold.  Right?  But it turns out that a lot of bad things happened to the people of the land he was “discovering”….. like sicknesses, slavery, poverty and death.  And being conquered by foreigners.

Yesterday I went online to do a bit of “research” about October 12th, since I knew that in Guatemala they observe El Día de La Raza (Day of The Race), and I wanted to find out more about it.  (See end of post for some of the articles I found).  I kept reading different blogs and articles and the readers’ responses….wow, what a controversial topic!  The responses were getting quite heated!

It seems that some people want to have a peaceful holiday where they remember the great discovery of America and celebrate Hispanoamericaness.  Others are shocked that genocides should be commemorated and they think that the day that triggered off the conquest of America should be remembered with grief.  There were arguments about the “conquerors and conquerees” and who thinks they are better than whom.  And who gets a holiday from work on the 12th and who doesn’t.  There were discussions about race, about the mixture of races (in Guatemala in particular) and how and when and where that happened.  And there were those who were just pleased to have a day off from work and some excuse to do something festive (like dressing up!).

Here are some of the comments about what the day is called where:

Día de la Resistencia Indigena en Venezuela,  Día de la Raza en Guatemala y Mexico, Día de la Hispanidad y Fiesta Nacional en España,  en Argentina se celebra el Día de los Pueblos Originarios y en Argentina el Día de la Raza y es feriado nacional, Día de las Américas en Uruguy,  “y aqui en mexico es el día del “descubrimiento de america” (asi o mas largo) y aqui no hay asueto como alla en España” dijo uno.

So in English that is: Day of Indigenous Resistance in Venezuela, Day of the Race in Guatemala and Mexico, Day of Spanishness (that’s what google translate gave me) and National Holiday in Spain, Day of Original Peoples and Day of the Race in Argentina and it’s a holiday, Day of the Americas in Uruguay, and from Mexico someone said “here in Mexico we celebrate the Day of the Discovery of America and we don’t have a holiday here like they do in Spain”.

And when they say Day of the Race, they don’t mean a marathon….they are talking about their ethnic race….and in particular (this is what I understood?) the mixture of Spanish and Indigenous races that have become the ladino or mestizo races.  (Or maybe it’s the “orignal” Mayan race….I’m not quite clear yet).  It seems that the discussion can get rather complicated!

What was in the back of my mind, for Día de La Raza in Guatemala City, was a day when little children dressed up in traditional indigenous costumes and it was fun and colorful!  My husband says that his memories are of seeing kids in costumes (traditional outfits) and that the day wasn’t a negative thing at all and that Columbus and his discoveries were mentioned.  period.

(Things have changed in Guatemala since we lived there, obviously, and there was a big march in the capitol city in 2007 where thousands of people were against observing Dia de la Raza, and were calling it the Day of Dignity and Pacific Resistance, el Día de la Dignidad y la Resistencia Pacífica –among other things-.  There were other demonstrations in other countries on that day in 2007, too.)

I’ve been thinking about what we are going to talk to our kids about today, when they get home from school.  I had wanted to go for a quick visit to see the replica of Columbus’ ship the Santa Maria that is on display near here, but I don’t think we’ll have time!  We’ll have a chat about Columbus and what his discoveries meant to many: in both the good and the bad ways.  And maybe we’ll dress up. We can’t ignore history.  We don’t have to celebrate this day, but observing it is not a bad idea.  You know, the old saying about those who forget the past….

It happened, and because of this day, way back in 1492, all our lives have been touched.  Rudy Girón made a great comparison about this day and the War of the Worlds, the collision of two worlds at the incident of Columbus’ trip to the new world (see his parody here: listen to the music and read through some of the comments!).

Even if we won’t make it there today, we have seen the ship before, so here’s a photo of my pirate by the Santa Maria :).

(Those ships were a lot smaller than we imagine!)

There must be some pirate in me somewhere! Arg!

And whether there is some conqueror, conquered, arab, indigenous, viking or pirate blood in my own little family…..meh!  It’s all about the stories and the exciting fun of discovery, really.  We can observe, learn, share and discover for ourselves about this day in history.

I just had to include these darling photos of the kids, even though this was from our Christmas Nativity Scene a few years ago!  They just seemed to fit in this post! 🙂 😉

I just love this one, it was for our Christmas card!

Here are some of the sites/posts/articles I checked into:  link to Antigua Daily photo here, from Roots and Wings Int’l here, from Mundo Chapin here, from wikispaces here, from La Jornada here.

Hopefully I’ll get time later on to check out what kind of a day it was today in Guatemala City! 🙂  Hasta luego!


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