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So, after a week long holiday, I was delighted to return to another day of 'fiesta' with yesterday being a national holiday throughout Spain. But why? With nothing like the street celebrations of the last día libre here in Salamanca I was a little confused as to what this was actually all about, although a free day - I'm definitely not complaining!
First and foremost, it celebrates Christopher Columbus's arrival into the Americas on October 12th 1492, and the subsequent conquering of the continent by Spanish forces. It has been celebrated around the world since the late 18th century, however it did not become an official day of festivities until the early 1900s. The names of this day also vary throughout the world, as it is known as Día de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional in Spain, Columbus Day in the Americas, and Día de las Américas in Uruguay. However despite its universal importance, it only became an official holiday in 1981, thanks to a Royal Decree.
Since 2000, this day has also been Spain's celebratory Day of the Armed Forces, and is now marked annually with a military parade in Madrid. Furthermore, in Aragon, the date is also celebrated in honour of their patron saint, Our Lady of the Pillar, and for many this has a much greater importance than the national celebrations.
Despite this however, it was definitely not the most exciting day ever, with sleep being the main thing on my agenda, a late afternoon stroll into the centre to see what I could find led only to the discovery that everything, bar restaurants, was closed, and the fatal flaw to my plan... Even the museums had taken a holiday for the afternoon!