The Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity
By Sharon Schweitzer
The Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity takes place every year on October 12 in Argentina. The holiday revisits the day Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas and sparks a conversation surrounding diversity and the importance of indigenous communities. It was first observed in 1914 and born as “Feast of the Race,” but later on, it changed names to feature autochthonous groups in the forefront.
The name The Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity is a bit of a mouthful, although it hasn’t always had that moniker. When it was first celebrated in Argentina it was called Día de la Raza – meaning “Day of the Race” (referring to the Hispanic race of Columbus and his crew) – indeed, it is still known as Día de la Raza in many South American countries.
The name was officially changed in Argentina in 2010 by the President, making the holiday much more inclusive and celebratory. In fact, a statue of Columbus that had resided near Casa Rosada – the Argentine equivalent of the White House – was moved, and replaced with a statue of Juana Azurduy, an important figure in the struggle for independence who had indigenous ancestors.
Around South America there are many different names for this holiday. In Colombia, it is called El día de la Raza y de la Hispanidad – meaning Day of the Race and Hispanicity – meant to celebrate the crossover of the two cultures – Hispanic and indigenous – and to reflect on the cultural richness this has added to the culture. In Peru, it is called Día de los pueblos originarios y el diálogo intercultural: meaning Indigenous Peoples and Intercultural Dialogue Day. In Venezuela, the day is called Día de la Resistencia Indígena, meaning Day of Indigenous Resistance; a day specifically to commemorate the Indigenous peoples’ resistance to European settlement. In Costa Rica, it’s called Día del Encuentro de las Culturas (Day of the Encounter of Cultures) which is similar to Argentina’s name for the holiday. It is also celebrated in other countries globally, including Italy, Spain, and several Caribbean nations.
Learning about different cultures and their impact can only be a good thing. It gives us the chance to get to know one another better. It also means that we become more accepting and more aware of those around us. If we recognise each other’s challenges and contributions, we appreciate one another more.
Photo by Converge International
Sharon Schweitzer JD, is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Sharon served as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.
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