Today is a holiday in Spain, and one of the most important ones. It is called “Nuestra Señora del Pilar”, in honor of the patron virgin of Spain and of the Hispanic people, and of the Civil Guard of Spain. This date is also called “Fiesta Nacional de España”, Spanish for “National Day of Spain”, and it celebrates the anniversary of Columbus’ first arrival in the Americas, in 1492.
This date isn’t very popular among the separatists though, and you can guess why. Being the celebration of Spanish nationalism, with a special festivity held in Madrid, those who have aspirations of independence find ways to boycott the holiday. For instance, the presidents of Spain’s Autonomous Communities, who fight for independence, normally refuse to attend the celebration in the capital. For example Artur Mas, president of Catalonia, whose recent calling of a referendum on the question of independence has brought him into direct conflict with the national government.
Colón & Las Ramblas
There is an enormous statue of Columbus at the bottom of Las Ramblas, in Barcelona. It is one of the city’s most important sites and a must see if you are here! It was constructed for the Exposición Universal de Barcelona (1888) in honor of Columbus first voyage to the Americas. Sculpted by Rafael Atché, the statue is said to depict Columbus pointing towards the New World. However, within the independence debate, the statue isn’t free of polemics: some question the permanence of the statue as a symbol of Barcelona and require its removal. The reason? It is a constant reminder of a colonization that has killed thousands of people, and it doesn’t reflect Catalan spirit and beliefs.
And you? What do you think of National Day of Spain in Catalonia?