October 12 (or the nearest Monday) is traditionally celebrated throughout the American continent as the day Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492.
In English-speaking countries, the day is celebrated as Columbus Day or Native American Day. In Spanish-speaking countries and communities, it is known as Día de la Raza , Race Day.
Columbus Day is the celebration of the Hispanic heritage of Latin America and brings with it all the ethnic and cultural influences that make it distinctive.
It is celebrated on October 12 in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Some historical facts behind the holidays:
- Christopher Columbus, born Cristoforo Colombo, following the recently accepted theory that the world was round and not flat, sailed west from Spain to find a new route to China or the East Indies. He also wanted to test his calculations for the circumference of the earth.
- It was out of his calculations and he didn’t find a new spice route. Instead, on October 12, 1492, he and his small fleet of three ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, landed on one of the islands now known as the Bahamas. The exact island is a matter of debate and conjecture, but from there, he went to Cuba and Hispaniola, now the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and returned to Spain to tell of his adventures.
- With royal approval and funding, he set out in 1493 with a fleet of 17 ships and retraced his earlier voyage. This time he explored Puerto Rico and the Leeward Islands, founded a colony on Hispaniola. He did not find spices or gold in large quantities, but he returned again to Spain. He made his third trip to the New World in 1498, where he explored the coast of Venezuela and was impressed by the sweet water of the Orinoco, which emptied into the Atlantic.
- For his efforts, Columbus was made admiral and governor general of the new colonies until he was sent back to Spain in disgrace in 1500. He overcame that humiliation long enough to make a fourth and final trip in 1502, landing in Costa Rica. When he died in 1506, Columbus was disgraced and almost forgotten. Whether he should be celebrated as the man who opened Central and South America to exploration and colonization, or excited by the same is an ongoing debate.
- Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day are reviled in places because he is blamed for bringing the evils of slavery, the entrustment of the system, and diseases from Europe to Latin America. He was greedy, cruel, and paved the way for conquest.
Now, more than 500 years later, we remember his acts and celebrate not Columbus the man, but the actions and influences of all the people who came after him, who merged their European culture with indigenous cultures and, with difficulty, blood and Years of battle, misunderstandings and betrayal have created the multicultural and multiethnic society that we now celebrate with Columbus Day .
Note: It is up to others to name the places where he had landed or to discover the route to China. Amerigo Vespucci named Venezuela after his native Venice, and Vasco da Gama sailed around the Cape of Good Hope and the Indian Ocean to the Far East, opening the Spice Route for Portugal.