COLUMBUS DAY

Bolivia people October 12 (or the nearest Monday to it) is traditionally celebrated throughout the Americas 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, is is known as Día de la Raza, the Day of the Race.

Día de la Raza is the celebration of the Hispanic heritage of Latin America and brings into it all the ethnic and cultural influences making it distinctive.

It is celebrated on October 12 in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela.

A few historical facts behind the holiday:

  1. Cristóbal Colón, born Cristoforo Colombo, following the newly 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 wanted also to prove his calculations of the earth's circumference.
  2. He was off on 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 on to Cuba and Hispaniola, now the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and went back to Spain to recount his adventures.
  3. With royal approval and funding, he set forth 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 any spices, nor gold in great quantities, but returned again to Spain. He made his third journey to the New World in 1498, where he explored the coast of Venezuela and was awed by the sweet water of the Orinoco where it flowed into the Atlantic.
  4. 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 sufficiently to make a fourth and final voyage in 1502, landing in Costa Rica. When he died in 1506, Columbus was dishonored and all but forgotten. Whether he should be celebrated as the man who opened Central and South America to exploration and colonization, or excoriated for the same thing is a continuing debate.
  5. Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day are reviled in places because he is blamed for bringing the evils of slavery, the encomienda system and the diseases of Europe to Latin America. He was avaricious, cruel and paved the way for the conquista.
Now, 509 years later, we recall his deeds and celebrate not Columbus the man, but the actions and influences of all the people who came after him, who melded their European culture with the indigenous cultures and, with difficulty, blood and years of battle, misunderstandings and treachery, have created the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society we now celebrate with the Día de la Raza.

BOLIVIA FESTIVAL CALENDAR

Bolivia Flag
Festival Date
January
New Year 1
Alasitas (La Paz) 24
February
Virgen de la Candelaria (Copacabana) 2
Carnaval and La Diablada (Oruro La Paz and
other locations)
February or March
Carnaval (Santa Cruz) February or March
Local Holiday (Oruro) 22
March
Good Friday and Easter March or April
Phuyllay (Tarabuco) Second Sunday in March
April
Local Holiday (Tarija)
15
May
Labor Day 1
Local Holiday (Chuquisaca) 25
June
El Gran Poder (La Paz) Late May or early June
July
Local Holiday (La Paz) 16
Santo Patron de Moxos (San Ignacio de Moxoz)
31
August
Nuestra Señora de Copacabana (Copacabana) 5
Dias de la Independencia (National) 5 - 7
San Lorenzo (San Lorenzo) 10 - 13
Virgen de Urcupiña (Quillacollo) 13 - 18
Chu'tillos (Potosí) Late August
September
San Roque (Tarija) First week of September
Local Holiday (Cochabamba) 14
Local Holiday (Santa Cruz and Pando) 24
October
Columbus Day 12
November
All Saints Day 1
Local Holiday (Beni) 18
December
Christmas Day 25
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