October 12th: A controversial celebration
On October 12th, 1492, Christopher Columbus and his fleet arrived in the Americas, marking the first occasion when a European expedition set foot on the continent. From that moment, everything changed: mass genocide of the native populations, the spread of diseases, the plundering of resources, the forced adoption of new languages, the introduction of new religions, various forms of government, and the imposition of an entirely different culture, are only some of the repercussions of that event. Nevertheless, perceptions of these consequences vary from one country to another. Did Europe's "discovery" of America yield positive or negative effects? Let's explore how different countries commemorate this contentious date:
Argentina: This day was established as Día del Respeto por la Diversidad Cultural (Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity). It’s a day to think and reflect on the country’s rich heritage and diversity and the importance of indigenous communities.
Spain: Spanish people celebrate Fiesta Nacional (National Spain Day
) and celebrate the expansion of Spanish culture beyond their borders, with a military parade and an appearance by the King.
Chile: In this country, the date is known as El Día del Descubrimiento de Dos Mundos (Day of the Encounter of Two Worlds), and it is a day to reflect on how the cultures influenced each other.
Bolivia: In Bolivia, people celebrate El Día de la Descolonización (Decolonization Day), in order to celebrate the struggle of indigenous people towards gaining recognition and overcoming the negative effects of colonization.
Whatever your position on this topic is, we’d like for you to join us in reflecting about this interesting date, so here goes a very thought-provoking quote by Uruguay writer Eduardo Galeano:
“En 1492, los nativos descubrieron que eran indios, descubrieron que vivían en América, descubrieron que estaban desnudos, descubrieron que existía el pecado, descubrieron que debían obediencia a un rey y a una reina de otro mundo y a un dios de otro cielo (...)”.
“In 1492, the natives discovered they were indians, they discovered they lived in America, that they were naked, that sin existed, that they owed obedience to a king and a queen from another world, and to a god from another heaven (...).”
Students’ work: Presidents with or without degrees?
Since we’re close to Presidential election time in Argentina, we have been wondering about which factors lead us to choose a candidate to vote for. One of our English students, Fernando, asked himself “Is it possible to be a President without a university degree?”, and gave us his answer in this essay:
I think that the main task of a president is to assemble specialized teams in different areas, so I believe that it is possible to become a president without a university degree and do a good job, like President Lula Da Silva did in Brazil. The main idea, for me, is to understand what the proble is and find a solution.
In any case, if I had the possibly of choosing between a president with a university degree
who respects my ideals, and another one who also respects them but doesn’t have a university degree, I would surely choose the one who has obtained the degree, because I believe that, with the same intelligence, a person who is better trained decides more accurately than one who isn’t.
Thanks for sharing your opinion with us, Fernando!
Día de Muertos in Mexico
Although more and more countries have been adopting the anglo-saxon Halloween traditions in the past couple of decades, Mexico still has its very own traditional celebration very close to that date. On November 1 and 2, they celebrate Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead).
Before colonizers arrived in the continent, native Mayans, Mexicas, and Purépechas honored their dead with offerings during harvest time. After colonization, this celebration was moved to early November, when Catholics celebrate El Día de Todos los Santos (All Saints’ Day).
On Día de Muertos, Mexican families prepare altars for their passed loved ones, bring offerings, gifts, and flowers to their tombs, and share stories about them. The souls of the dead are believed to visit their families and friends on November 2, so Mexicans have huge parties, decorate their houses, eat traditional food like pan de muerto, mole, tamales, and more. Some families have lunch together at the graveyard, where they celebrate alongside the souls of their ancestors.
If you want to learn more about this interesting and magical celebration, you can watch our reel about it, with a description from our student Elena, who’s originally Mexican.