It is that confusing time of the year again – October 12th. Almost all other countries in the Americas do not recognize Columbus Day, instead, they celebrate the coming together of cultures, of different continents.
Many countries in the New World and elsewhere celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas, which occurred on October 12, 1492, as an official holiday. The day is celebrated as Columbus Day in the United States, as Día de la Raza in many countries in the Americas, as Día de las Culturas (Day of the Cultures) in Costa Rica, as Discovery Day in the Bahamas, as Día de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional in Spain and as Día de las Américas (Day of the Americas) in Uruguay. These holidays have been celebrated unofficially since the late 18th century, and officially in various countries since the early 20th century.
Personally, I grew up with it being Dia de la Raza. It celebrated my mostly indigenous ancestors that mixed with the French in the Sierra Madre. It was never a question that we were mestizos and it was never a question that we acknowledged both sides. In the U.S., though, my old neighborhood had Italian festivals and I didn’t really get it as a kid. Strange how traditions change based on who is celebrating and whose viewpoint you are experiencing. I think Laredoans rarely have this be a topic of discussion, it doesn’t seem to be a question here. In this area, it seems to just come and go without any fanfare whatsoever – no indigenous outcry and no Italian victory dances, just a day off for some.
Even Wikipedia has a different type of entry for the above Columbus Day and below for Dia de la Raza which is described country by country.
As for me, I am in Abilene where I have had a few conversations with good people who don’t realize that their use of the words “wetback” and “illegals” make me cringe. I gently say excuse me but that is offensive but it is as ingrained into the culture as Columbus Day is in the U.S. mainstream (Laredo is not the mainstream). If change starts with one, then I say, let’s celebrate the uniqueness of our different cultural traditions coming together.
Yeah, that’s it. Dia de los Fregados 🙂 (in the nicest of ways)