La Fiesta Nacional

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In the U.S. we call it Columbus Day, and it commemorates the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus and is generally celebrated by Italian Americans. In Spain, it is called the Día de la Hispanidad, Fiesta Nacional (National Holiday) and marks the spread of Spanish culture around the world. Ironically, though, this day is also el Pilar — the patron saint of the military — and Spain celebrates Hispanidad by military parade — probably not the friendliest gesture to a world once conquered by force, imperialism and ethnocentrism. This is particularly odd considering that Spaniards are almost always uniformly anti-war. I suppose it would be like the U.S. celebrating Thanksgiving, not with Turkey, but with a procession of tanks and soldiers down Constitution Avenue.

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