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Gerald Erichsen

Columbus Day Goes by Other Names in Spanish

By October 8, 2012

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Although Columbus Day is being observed in the United States today, don't expect the same if you should be traveling in a Spanish-speaking country, where Oct. 12 remains the day of observance. And don't expect it to be known as the Día de Colón; its traditional name is Día de la Raza (Day of the Race). Note that raza often has a broader meaning than its English cognate, "race," usually does, here referring to the conquest of much of the Americas by the Spaniards.

Because of the effect that the conquest had on indigenous cultures, the demands of sensitivity have resulted in some cases in the renaming of the holiday. For example, in recent years the name Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural (Day of Respect to Cultural Diversity) has been promoted in Argentina. Other names used elsewhere — sometimes officially, sometimes informally — include Día del Descubrimiento (Discovery Day), Día del Encuentro de Dos Mundos (Day of the Encounter of Two Worlds), Día de las Culturas (Cultures Day) and Día de la Resistencia Indígena (Indigenous Resistance Day).

Note, by the way, that día, the word for "day," is masculine. Thus it is an exception to the rule that nouns ending in -a are feminine in gender.


October 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm
(1) Biqui says:

So to which “raza” does dia de la raza refer? Spaniards? Indigenous people? Someone else? Gracias!

October 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm
(2) jilm2 says:

Tribes in the US do not recognize Columbus Day, either. The Chickasaws named it Piomingo Day after a Tribal Chief in early US history. They put it on C Day so we could recognize someone constructive.

October 10, 2012 at 3:35 pm
(3) jilm2 says:

“Raza” refers to the original tribes in the area.

October 10, 2012 at 4:15 pm
(4) weeksa says:

I would think that “race” would mean the “race to the Americas” for European nations… similar to America vs. Russia in the “space race.”

October 10, 2012 at 9:09 pm
(5) ds says:

In Puerto Rico it’s called “Día del Descubrimiento de América” or “Día de la Raza”.

October 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm
(6) Federico Tucson says:

I was surprised to find the public library in Tucson closed on Monday. A passerby said “Happy Anti-Native American Day!” and I realized what holiday it was.

October 12, 2012 at 10:38 am
(7) OA says:

Surely you mean to say that ‘día’ “is an exception to the rule the nouns ending in -a are feminine in gender.”

October 16, 2012 at 9:25 am
(8) sfree says:

I wonder, is ‘día de la Hispanidad’ for Columbus day still in popular use; and if so, where it is used?


–A Student

February 25, 2013 at 2:55 am
(9) Ely says:

Día de la Hispanidad is what we call it in my birth country in Panama, with “Hispanidad” in the sense of the Spanih speaking world because, let’s face it, the discovery of the Americas kick-started the Spanish-language expansion.

I wasn’t even aware other names for it existed other than “Columbus Day” in English and… methinks German.

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