Welcome once again to World Blog Surf Day! Take a tour around the blog-world as you link from country-to-country, expat-to-expat learning about one particular topic.
I took part last time when we discussed food. Now, we're describing holidays and celebrations in our new country. This time, though, WBSD catches me in an off mood. I've just started a new job, moved to a new house, just returned from 2 months in the US with family and I find myself off balance and out of sorts. I've had an equally difficult time getting my head around the holidays here in Salta and Argentina in general.
It seems there's a new one just about every week. Saints, soldiers, politicians. Holiday! A war begins, a war ends, a break in the war. Holiday! And while we've asked around for some sort of calendar of events, no one seems to have one. Yet everyone else seems to know about the holidays in advance.
We find out when we show up at Lila's school to find it vacant, doors shut and locked.
Then came October 12, Dia de la Raza.
Day of Race, I believe would be a adequate translation.
Yes, Columbus Day. A day I can't remember celebrating ever. It is not a day off school. It is not a day stores are closed. It's really just a bank holiday, which general means very little to those of us bank-unaffiliated folk.
Even the most cursory knowledge of Native America culture, though, tells you this day is not a day of joy. In fact, there's been great opposition in even naming this day a holiday in the United States because of the connection with cultural genocide, murder, rape and kidnapping. Somehow the traditional United States public holiday of barbecues and going to the movies seems particularly unfitting, especially since Columbus never even set foot in North America
All of this would explain why I was shocked to learn October 12 is a true day off in Argentina.
Then again, why not? Renaming while still observing a holiday seeks to reposition the meaning of the day. It represents another side of history. In 2004, a pro-Chavez mob toppled a statue of Columbus in Caracas symbolically overthrowing the old regime as a statue of Saddam Hussein had been similarly brought down the year before in Baghdad.
In other countries, Dia de las Americas and Dia de la Resistencia Indigena focus on the culture existing in these great lands long before a European foot touched ground.
Myself, I often wonder how different South America would have been had European influence not arrived.
De la Raza is a day to commemorate another side of history, one only briefly touched in my high school history classes. This is not the day the Spanish conquistador entered a new land, claiming it for himself and his queen, but a day to remember how entire groups of people were murdered and enslaved.
It's a solemn day, a day of retrospection and a day during which all of us -- whatever the race, culture and affiliation -- can look inward and reflect.
Is it possible to reclaim a holiday in such a way? Does it truly allow all sides of the history to be represented? Let me know what you think in comments below.
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As for World Blog Surf Day, I imagine many of the other blogs involved in this month's World Blog Surf Day will describe the wild and wonderful celebrations from all other countries, so forgive me for taking the tone down. I hope it has been a worthwhile deviation.
Now on with the festivities at Expanish Blog where you can learn everything you need to know about living and learning Spanish in Buenos Aires. You can also follow along at Empty Next Expat's Twitterstream to hear more as the day unfolds.
Wanted poster courtesy of bionicteaching