At the end of the 19th century, October 12th was known as the Day of the Race and was introduced during the Regency of Maria Cristina to commemorate the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.
At the beginning of the 20th century, a priest called Zacarías de Vizcarra, highlighted the concept of Hispanity in an article and, in 1931, Ramiro de Maeztu reaffirmed the term in another text arguing why that date should be changed to the Day of Hispanity. So, in 1957, it was declared as such. And finally, it was in 1987 when the law promulgated that date as Spain’s National Day. Furthermore, in 2014, the UN established 12 October as the day to commemorate the Spanish language.
This year’s events due to the pandemic will be reduced to a military parade in the Plaza de la Armería of the Royal Palace in Madrid.
This is a controversial date, due to the colonial past and the conflict it represents for the indigenous communities. However, the evolution of the term also implies an adaptation to the times. Although the damage to those ex-colonies is undeniable, it is part of history and history must serve to learn and reflect on the mistakes that were made in order not to repeat them and to build a future based on awareness. Nevertheless, this exercise must be free of hatred as well as of the feeling of revenge, for it is synonymous with stagnation in the past. In addition to the implications of the word hate, a vicious circle can only be broken through dialogue, empathy and unity.
In the end, just as certain aspects caused negative consequences, there are certain aspects that brought about positive consequences such as the linguistic link and the richness of Latin American literature or the artistic influences originating in the continent. Another of these positive consequences is that connection, so special and unknown to many Spaniards, with the African country that closes the triangle of the Spanish ex-colonies: Equatorial Guinea. A land of luxuriant forests, heavenly waterfalls, hidden talents, an ancestral culture, amazing resources and a cultured literature that has been cultivated but hidden by oblivion. A country where its people feel that bond that unites them to Spain with passion, pride and great affection, in spite of everything. There, on 12 October, Independence Day is celebrated, they proudly celebrate a new beginning for the nation, without rancour or aversion.
As for Spain, it is a country with a history and values that represent what it is today. With its ups and downs, the experience of having grown up in this country makes you think about the good things it encompasses. Because it means a look at the roofs that adorn the sky of Madrid, a sigh of the Atlantic sea from the Galician coast, the imposing cliffs of the north, the joy of the streets, the cathedral of Burgos, the Basilica of Pilar – a virgin to which today is also paid homage, the melodies of the south, historical cities in Castile, Antonio Machado, the Manchego cheese, the Canary Island accent, the paintings of Dario de Regoyos, the heritage of Gaudi, the terreta, the sunsets in the Balearic archipelago… The people who cross paths, close, tolerant, jealous, and happy. Sport, music, art, science, gastronomy, the made in spain company. And finally, a special mention to all the afro-descendants that are part of this country with talent, dreams, entrepreneurs, capable, intelligent, fighters and creative.
Because contexts change and that variation depends on the people who are part of it. Of the future they want to build and, although today is a day of commemoration, it is also a point in the calendar of reflection on the union, to visualize where we want to go and appreciate the value of the origins.
Happy National Day of Spain and of the Hispanic World.