Columbus Day is celebrated every 12 October in Mexico. In Mexico and other Latin American countries, it is also known as “Dia de la Raza” (Day of the Race), though in other places it is called “Dia de la Hispanidad” (Hispanic Day). In Mexico, Columbus Day has been observed since 1928.
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Note: Columbus Day is not an official national holiday, but is widely observed throughout Mexico.
The history behind Columbus Day goes back to 12 October 1492 when Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colon in Spanish), an Italian navigator sailing for Spain, sighted the Bahaman Island of San Salvador. The discovery led to permanent contact between Europe and the Americas, to the Colonial Era, and to the formation of a vast, Spanish New World called “New Spain.” It also led to the conquest of Aztec Mexico by Hernan Cortes in the early 16th Century.
Soon, Spanish settlers arrived and began to intermarry with the local Indian populations. This situation is said by Mexicans to have “created a new race,” which is why the day is known as “Dia de la Raza” in Mexico. Unfortunately, conflict between Mexicans of Indian, European, and mixed (“Mestizo”) heritage continues and sometimes leads to protests against the celebration of Columbus Day.
To many Mexicans, Columbus Day is a time to celebrate Hispanic culture, but to others, it is a time to remember native Indian cultures that were forever impacted in the years after Columbus’ discovery of the Americas.