The Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity takes place every year on October 12 in Argentina. The holiday revisits the day Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas and sparks a conversation surrounding diversity and the importance of indigenous communities. It was first observed in 1914 and born as “Feast of the Race,” but later on, it changed names to feature autochthonous groups in the forefront. Originally intended to commemorate the Hispanic influence on the Americas, the day has since expanded to include all cultures.
History of Day of Respect For Cultural Diversity
The Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity is observed annually on October 12. Throughout history, the name change and departure from the traditional date reflect on how indigenous communities have shone a light on a different, sometimes overseen, angle of the colonial history of the Americas. Until a few years ago, the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival was known as “Día de la Raza” (Day of the Race) in Central and South America, commemorating the first encounters between Europeans and Native Americans. As of right now, many countries have changed the name to include the original communities and celebrate the diversity within.
As it is well known, Columbus initially set foot in the Americas on October 12, 1492. While attempting to find a sea route to India, he arrived at San Salvador Island in the Bahamas. His transatlantic voyages sparked European exploration and colonization of many territories. Still, he was not the first European explorer to access the Americas, with undisputed evidence of Norsemen reaching the North American mainland centuries before.
Argentina observed the day for the first time in 1917, whereas Chile did in 1922, Colombia and Venezuela in 1921, and Mexico in 1928, although the very first instance of this day has been traced back to 1914 when Spanish minister Faustino Rodríguez-San Pedro created the “Feast of the Race.” Nowadays, this idea is seen as misguided and disrespectful towards indigenous communities, which is what inspired the name change. Thus, the Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity lives on.
Day of Respect For Cultural Diversity timeline
The Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María begin their journey.
Columbus arrives in the Americas.
Spanish minister Faustino Rodríguez-San Pedro creates a celebration around Hispanic heritage.
The government changes the date’s name to Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity.
Day of Respect For Cultural Diversity FAQs
Who actually named the Americas?
They were named after Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer.
What U.S. states do not recognize Columbus Day?
Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin do not celebrate Columbus Day. South Dakota officially celebrates Native American Day instead.
What were the Americas called before they became the Americas?
The oldest known name is ‘Abya Yala,’ which means “land in its full maturity” or “land of vital blood.”
How to Observe Day of Respect For Cultural Diversity
Discover Argentinian culture
Argentina is a colorful country with countless different cultures to explore. It goes without saying that learning everything you can about it is one of the best ways to celebrate this day. Take it a step further and maybe approach Argentinian communities nearby to ask about their roots.
Contact your Argentinian friends
If you know anyone from Argentina, reach out! Tell them how much you appreciate them, or spend some quality time immersed in their culture.
Host a diversity-themed party
Don't let the date pass you by without organizing a cultural event. Do some research and invite friends and family to participate in learning together more about the historical richness of Argentina. You can extend the celebration to your workplace by sharing it with your coworkers.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Latin America
It has many languages
Over 300 languages are spoken in the region, including indigenous ones.
It has pink dolphins
If you ever visit the Amazon, you may find river dolphins with a beautiful salmon-like natural hue.
It has engineering masterpieces
One of them is the iconic Panama Canal, located in Central America.
It’s super urbanized
Latin America is one of the world’s most urbanized regions, with over 80% of its population living in cities.
It produces a lot of oxygen
20% of the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon.
Why Day of Respect For Cultural Diversity is Important
It’s all about culture
Culture brings color, sound, tradition, and fun to our lives. By learning about other people’s traditions and ways of living, we can learn a lot more about ourselves as well.
It rescues other points of view
Even though we are more connected than ever, many cultures are disappearing. That’s why some of the most important initiatives associated with the Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity are conservation and documentation.
It brings people together
The cultural richness of Latin America and its indigenous population are honored at the exact same time in many countries. It is one of the biggest commemorations the world sees throughout the year.
Day of Respect For Cultural Diversity dates