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Uruguay Day of Cultural Diversity/Day of the Races – October 12, 2024

Uruguay Day of Cultural Diversity is a yearly occurrence on October 12. It honors the country’s indigenous people and celebrates Latin American heritage and historical richness. It is an alternative take to Columbus Day. While one celebrates the discovery of the New World, the other seeks to reflect on what the transition from pre-Hispanic times to the modern era has meant for autochthonous groups, shining a light on how, while the Spanish-speaking world grew, indigenous cultures virtually disappeared. The Day of Cultural Diversity aims to review history and give a voice to untold stories.

History of Uruguay Day of Cultural Diversity/Day of the Races

While most of the world celebrates Columbus Day on October 12, Uruguay is among the many countries that have a different approach to it. Centuries ago, on this day, Columbus first set foot in the Americas and ushered in a new era of trade and exploration. Spanish and European contributions to the “New World” were undoubtedly significant, but we must also remember that there’s always a flip side.

The arrival of Columbus has a different meaning to indigenous people, as millions of their ancestors suffered undignifying conditions, being exposed to new diseases, forced labor, and prosecution. Like many South and Central American countries, Uruguay celebrates the Day of Cultural Diversity instead of Columbus Day. The holiday marks the beginning of indigenous resistance in Latin America on October 12, 1492 – an ongoing fight in many regions.

The day was originally known as Día de la Raza, or Day of the Race, but over the years, the term has been discontinued, as many Latin Americans believe its roots are within Colonial times and do not reflect the true nature of the date. Thus, a handful of countries have changed its name, like Venezuela, where it is called ‘Día de la Resistencia Indígena,’ or “Day of Indigenous Resistance,” highlighting the struggles and honoring native groups. Today, it is time we look back and think critically about the many issues this day shines a light on.

Uruguay Day of Cultural Diversity/Day of the Races timeline

Christopher Columbus’ Arrival

Columbus lands in the Americas, believing he was in India.

European Exploration Begins

The Portuguese are the first to land in Uruguay.

The Long Road to Freedom

Uruguay achieves independence from Spain but is annexed swiftly by Brazil.

Free at Last

Uruguay is finally an independent nation.

Uruguay Day of Cultural Diversity/Day of the Races FAQs

What is Epiphany in Uruguay?

Uruguay celebrates Epiphany on January 6. The day remembers the journey of the three wise men who followed a star to visit the infant Jesus.

What does the name ‘Uruguay’ mean?

‘Uruguay’ has Guaraní roots. The name has multiple translations, including “winding river,” “river where the bird lives,” or “river of the snails.”

What was Uruguay called before?

During the colonial era, Uruguay was known as Banda Oriental.

How to Observe Uruguay Day of Cultural Diversity/Day of the Races

  1. Learn about Uruguay

    Did you know that Uruguay is one of the world’s most progressive countries? Learn more about this gem of a place today.

  2. Celebrate like Uruguayans

    An Uruguayan party usually involves the legendary ‘asado.’ It is the South American version of an exquisite barbecue.

  3. Travel to Uruguay

    Uruguay is one of the safest countries for tourists in Latin America. The people are super chill and go out of their way to speak with or help strangers.

5 Facts About Uruguay That Will Blow Your Mind

  1. It is also the home of tango

    Not many people know that Argentina and Uruguay share the title “birthplace of tango.”

  2. L.G.B.T.Q. friendly

    Uruguay legalized same-sex marriage in 2013 – way before many first-world nations.

  3. Big on sharing

    From drinking from each other’s ‘mate’ to cooking ‘asado,’ sharing is central to Uruguayan traditions.

  4. Progressive social policies

    Uruguay has free education, healthcare, and marriage equality.

  5. Cannabis is legal there

    Anyone in Uruguay can grow and sell Cannabis.

Why Uruguay Day of Cultural Diversity/Day of the Races is Important

  1. It’s an inclusive holiday

    It isn’t a national holiday unless everyone feels involved. Uruguay Day of Cultural Diversity ensures it.

  2. It flips perspectives

    The holiday subverts established history through a shift in perspective. Today is about cultural pride and resurgence despite the odds.

  3. It preserves cultures

    Holidays document cultures and traditions for future generations. Collective memory steps in when history books don’t do justice.

Uruguay Day of Cultural Diversity/Day of the Races dates

2024October 12Saturday
2025October 12Sunday
2026October 12Monday
2027October 12Tuesday
2028October 12Thursday

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