Discovery of Puerto Rico Day, celebrated on November 19, commemorates the eventful occasion on which European explorer Christopher Columbus first landed in Puerto Rico back in 1493, after almost two months of sailing. The day is marked as a public holiday on the island, and many buildings are adorned with the country’s flag and nationalist memorabilia to honor the nation’s sovereignty and its indigenous roots, which can still be seen to this day. Join us as we review today’s hottest topic and celebrate the people from Puerto Rico, their vast heritage, and their colorful culture.
History of Discovery of Puerto Rico Day
Christopher Columbus was a man of conviction who believed — before anyone else — that there existed other ways, new paths yet to be discovered. In an age when people thought that everything had already been found, Columbus, an ardent student of geography and science, rowed his ship towards the unknown. His four infamous voyages unveiled the West. After the controversial results of his first adventure, he embarked on his second trip on September 24, 1493, with over 1200 soldiers sprawled on 17 ships. Nearly two months later, he anchored in a bay near an island on November 19, 1943, which he later named San Juan Bautista.
Almost all American countries have dedicated a day to point out the inception of their nation through Columbus. Discovery of Puerto Rico Day honors the journey of the explorer and acknowledges the indigenous culture, dialect, and traditions of the land at the same time. The nation has recognized Columbus on numerous occasions. Their Spanish heritage was honored in 1893, on the 400th anniversary of his landfall, with a stamp that depicted his figure on a ship with a crew in the background.
Discovery of Puerto Rico Day is a national holiday on the islands. Banks, schools, and public offices are closed on this day, and a grand parade is organized in every major city. The day also signals the arrival of the holy month of December. Christmas decorations go up right after the holiday.
Discovery of Puerto Rico Day timeline
European explorer Christopher Columbus makes landfall in Puerto Rico.
The Prime Minister of Spain, Práxedes Mateo Sagasta, grants the island an autonomous government on November 25.
Spain relinquishes Puerto Rican territory to the United States after the Spanish–American War.
Puerto Rico adopts a new constitution that enshrines its status as a United States territory.
Discovery of Puerto Rico Day FAQs
Is Puerto Rico an American state?
Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States.
Why is Puerto Rico called Borinquen?
Native indigenous communities called the island ‘Borinquen,’ which translates to “the land of the brave lord.”
Who lived in Puerto Rico before the Spanish?
The island’s native population is the Taínos.
Discovery of Puerto Rico Day Activities
Learn the history
Puerto Rico’s history didn’t start with its assimilation into North America. The rich and vast history dates back thousands of years. On Discovery of Puerto Rico Day, crack open the pages of a history book or watch a documentary about the origins of this beautiful island.
Visit Puerto Rico
A vacation in Puerto Rico is a promise of blue sky, palm trees, endless brunches, and sun-soaked afternoons by the beach. It is the perfect getaway and an impactful way to support the country’s economy.
Take salsa lessons
Salsa is the official dance of Puerto Rico. It is as fun as dances can get and offers a great workout for those interested. Celebrate their beautiful heritage with an independent salsa class and let yourself lose in the addicting beat of the congas.
5 Interesting And Unheard Facts About Puerto Rico
The sip of sunshine
Piña colada, Puerto Rico’s own invention, is also the national drink of the island.
The taste of the legends
Arroz con gandules, a rice assortment with salted pork and pigeon peas, is the national dish of Puerto Rico.
The funniest mascot
Puerto Rico’s national animal and official mascot is a frog, locally known as the ‘coqui.’
A necessary export
Puerto Rico’s largest export is pharmaceuticals.
The native name
Puerto Ricans are referred to as the ‘Boricua.’
Why We Love Discovery of Puerto Rico Day
It represents the day of discovery
Most American countries across the continent take a day to remember Christopher Columbus. For example, Pan-American Day is Belize’s official commemoration of the journey undertaken by the explorer.
It honors the past leaders
Discovery of Puerto Rico day honors the country’s prominent figures and the martyrs who stood against tyranny in the service of the nation. Their legacy should always be remembered.
It unites the island
On the anniversary of Columbus’ arrival on the island, Puerto Ricans unite and reflect on their Spanish heritage and what it means for their native communities. We must never forget there’s always a flip side.
Discovery of Puerto Rico Day dates