Spanish National Day

If you think about Spain today, what are the first key words and topics that come to your mind? You may answer “Cataluña” and “independence” and you would be right: that has been the main issue in Spain over the last couple of days and it has absorbed a good part of the international interest. Regardless of good or bad news, the National Spanish Day will be celebrated today, on the 12th of October, one day after Carles Puigdemont accepted the mandate to declare Cataluña an independent country.

This national day could actually seem quite controversial in some countries across Europe or the World. It is not only about the country itself, but also about the whole Hispanic world: the day is celebrated both in Spain and in Latin America, to remeber Cristobal Colon’s arrival to the New World on the same date in 1492. The holiday then celebrates the meeting of both people, which mixed their cultures during History and that shared the same language.

It started being celebrated in 1913 under the name Día de la Raza (“Race day”) and the former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco made it a legal National Day in 1958. After Franco passed away and a democratic political regime was set up, it was recalled “Fiesta de Espana y de la Hispanidad in 1982, before it was officially called Día de la Fiesta Nacional de Espana in 1987.

In Spain, it is a public holiday, and it is (supposed to be) celebrated all over the country. The main event of this day is the military march at noon on Castellana Street in Madrid, which gathers thousands of people. Spanish people also seize the opportunity of this day-off to visit some museums that are free of charge.

The celebration of the 12th of October is however quite controversial in Spain, particularly in Cataluña. Some political parties and activists think that there is no reason to celebrate such a day, as it commemorates colonialism and the slaughters the indigenous people were subject to for centuries. Last year, Colon’s statute in Barcelona was tagged with the motto “Res a celebrar” (“Nothing to celebrate”). This year, as unity has been affected last week, the 12th of October could be perceived differently, from a new perspective in the Catalan capital and across the whole country.

Nevertheless, it could also be an occasion to forget politics and celebrate Spain and the Hispanic culture in their richness: for the occasion, in fact, the Grand Casino Brussels VIAGE offers an opportunity to party, dance flamenco, eat paella and drink sangria from 6 to 10 pm.