12th of October: National Day of Spain 2023

October 12 th National Day of Spain, Spanish flags

SPAIN's National Day is celebrated on October 12 every year Image: Shutterstock/Marcos del Mazo

SPAIN’s National Day is celebrated on October 12 every year to commemorate the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492. It is also known as Columbus Day, Hispanic Day, or Día de la Hispanidad. While the observance of this day has evolved over the years, it continues to be a day for Spanish people to come together.

What Happens on October 12 in Spain

On Spain’s National Day, there are many parades and celebrations held all over Spain. The largest parade takes place in Madrid, where the King and Queen of Spain preside over the festivities. The parade features military units, traditional dancers, and floats from all over the country.

In addition to the parade, there are many other events and activities held on Spain’s National Day. Many people visit museums, go to the park, or have picnics with friends and family. There are also many concerts and fireworks displays held throughout the country.

National Day is a time for the Spanish to celebrate their country’s history and culture. It is a day to be proud of being Spanish and to reflect on the country’s many accomplishments.

The Spanish flag is flown on all government buildings and by many businesses and individuals.

Is October 12 a Holiday in Spain?

Yes, October 12 the National Day of Spain is a national holiday in Spain, so most businesses and schools are closed. If October 12 falls on a Sunday the holiday is usually moved to the following Monday so Spanish people can still have an extra day off work. This year it falls on Thursday so many Spanish residents take advantage of its close proximity to the weekend to ‘bridge’ the bank holiday to the weekend by taking a day off on Friday also! They refer to this as ‘puente’ literally meaning bridge.

12 October Spain bank holiday parade
The parade features military units as it is also the Day of the Spanish Armed Forces. Image/Shutterstock: JJFarq

Are Supermarkets Open on  October 12?

Some of the large supermarkets open on October 12 like Carrefour. Mercadona does not open on October 12 according to their website. Some other supermarkets like Alcampo and Lidl depending on their location may open. El Corte Ingles supermarkets Hipercor and Supercor will open from 11 am to 9 pm according to their website. Click here to view their website.

Restaurants usually open on October 12 and in fact may be busier than most days so call ahead and book a table!

Why is October 12 Important in Spain?

As we touched on previously the National Day of Spain commemorates the discovery of the Americas. The date is a key date for Spain’s overseas influence and legacy to the world. October 12 is also the official Spanish language day, the Feasts of both Our Lady of the Pillar and the Virgen of Zapopan as well as the Day of the Spanish Armed Forces.

A Controversial History

It is important to note that October 12 is a controversial holiday for some people. This is because it also commemorates the beginning of the European colonisation of the Americas, which had a devastating impact on indigenous peoples.

In recent years, there has been growing debate in Spain about the meaning of October 12 and how it should be celebrated. Some people believe that the holiday should be renamed or abolished altogether, while others believe that it is important to recognise both the positive and negative aspects of Spain’s colonial past.

Let us know what you think in the comments especially whether you think it unfair that whilst many people enjoy the national holiday and the bridge, others are required to work by their employers.

Click here for more information about life in Spain and check out more articles like this one in our Living in Spain section.

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Written by

Catherine McGeer

I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!


    • David Goulty

      12 October 2023 • 09:31

      Definitely be proud of your past, it’s your history whether good or bad by today’s woke views.

    • Chris

      12 October 2023 • 20:12

      Nothing like celebrating the genocide of the Mayans and Incas by Chris Columbus and his pals.

    Comments are closed.