Discovery of America Day, or Columbus Day, is celebrated on October 6 every year in Honduras. It commemorates the date when Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer, first set foot in the Americas and kickstarted a new age in the region. The traditional date for this holiday is October 12. However, Latin American countries have since celebrated October 12 as “Dia de la Raza” (Day of the Race), shifting the focus toward celebrating the original American races and cultures instead of celebrating Columbus’ arrival. Thus, it has become a day that honors the Hispanic cultures that existed on the continent before Columbus’ arrival.
History of Honduras: Discovery of America Day
Columbus Day is celebrated in the United States and various Latin American countries as the day that Columbus “discovered” the North American continent and paved the way for contact with Europe. However, in Latin America, the name of the day is controversial due to the implications of Columbus’ arrival in the region. Columbus’ voyage to the Americas in 1492 was considered to be the moment that initiated European exploration and subsequent colonization of the Americas.
In Honduras, Columbus Day was established in March 1914 by then-President Francisco Bertrand Barahona, under the ideology brought forth by Ibero-American Union leader Faustino Rodríguez-San Pedro. Rodríguez-San Pedro wanted to start a holiday that celebrated Spain’s connection with Latin America. The goal was to commemorate the birth of a new age and identity from the fusion of native Latin American and Spanish cultures that was kickstarted by the arrival of Columbus.
However, over the years, Discovery of America Day has drawn harsh criticism from Latin American states who believe that a day commemorating European colonization of their land is inappropriate. This is due to the turbulent history that Europeans like Columbus wrought in the region, which included the conquest and attempted erasure of native Latin American culture, the selling of many natives to slavery, and the infliction of suffering on natives under their rule.
Therefore, in many Latin American countries, such as Honduras, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, El Salvador, and Costa Rica, the day is now celebrated as “Día de la Raza,” or Day of the Race. The focus of the holiday in Latin America has shifted from celebrating European arrival to honoring the native pre-Columbian cultures that existed before.
Honduras: Discovery of America Day timeline
Columbus lands in the Bahamas in the North American region after a bungled attempt to reach India.
On July 30, Columbus spots Honduras during his fourth voyage to the continent, landing on the mainland in what is now the Honduran city of Trujillo.
Argentina becomes the first Latin American country to celebrate Día de la Raza.
Honduras formally enacts Columbus Day as a national holiday.
Honduras: Discovery of America Day FAQs
What did Columbus do for Honduras?
Well, for one, Columbus named the country. During his fourth voyage across the Atlantic in 1502, he reached the eastern edge of present-day Honduras after escaping an oncoming tropical storm. He would subsequently conquer the territory and name it “Honduras,” referring to the deep waters off the coast.
Who lived in Honduras before colonization?
Before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, Honduras was populated by several native tribes, such as the Lencas, the Tol, the Pech, the Maya, and the Sumo. Honduras also had a Mayan presence as far back as 150 A.D.
How long was Columbus' first voyage?
Columbus’ first voyage in 1492 took him 36 days of sailing across the Atlantic. He did so believing that sailing westward was the best way to reach East Asia because the usual eastward routes were dominated by Middle Eastern traders. He estimated that the distance between the Canary Islands and Japan would be around 2,300 miles, believing that the Earth is completely spherical.
How to Observe Honduras: Discovery of America Day
Fly the flag of Honduras
The message of the Discovery of America Day in Latin America has shifted throughout history, commemorating native culture over European arrival. Thus, fly the Honduran flag high and proudly to show your national pride.
Celebrate with your fellow compatriots
Discovery of America Day is traditionally celebrated in Honduras with parades, bullfights, and, of course, scrumptious feasts. On this day, cook a traditional Honduran meal for your loved ones as a way of celebrating your heritage together.
Read about Latin American history
Celebrate your native history by getting to know it more! Many Latin American writers and researchers have produced numerous publications and writings about the history of pre-Columbian Latin America that are worthy of reading. Such writings can provide you with a variety of perspectives on the history of this holiday.
5 Amazing Facts About Columbus’ Voyages
The earth was always round
Despite the famous legend, Columbus did not set out on his initial voyage in 1492 to prove the Earth was round, as Greek mathematicians had already established this fact in the sixth to third century B.C.
He initially landed in the Bahamas
Columbus did not land on the North American mainland during his 1492 voyage; rather, he landed on the Bahamian island of San Salvador.
Columbus never visited the mainland
In fact, Columbus never set foot anywhere that is the present-day United States, as his voyages focused on the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.
He was beaten to it
Columbus cannot be credited with being the first European to discover the Americas; the Vikings and Celtics had arrived on the continent centuries before him.
He was convinced of his achievements
Columbus was convinced until his death that the land he reached was Asia, instead of the Americas.
Why Honduras: Discovery of America Day is Important
The point of the holiday shifted to celebrate local cultures
Discovery of America Day was originally celebrated as the day European powers encountered the Americas, and that is no longer the case. Armed with their pride in their heritage, Latin American countries turned a contentious holiday that symbolizes colonization's birth into something that celebrates their roots.
It shows the Latin Americans’ respect toward their heritage
Latin Americans’ deep love and respect for their traditions make this day a lively one for Honduras and other Latin American countries. The vibrant cultural, culinary, and national showcases that take place on this day are a symbol of their love for their heritage and their liberation from a tumultuous history.
It also celebrates assimilated cultures
Even though Columbus paved the way for European colonization, many European traditions, such as Catholicism and the Spanish language, remain prevalent in Latin America. In some countries, Día de la Raza also honors the assimilation of these traditions into the local fabric. Thus, Discovery of America Day also celebrates the formation of new cultures and traditions that are still observed in the region today.
Honduras: Discovery of America Day dates