Rituals and Identity – The Case Of October The Twelfth


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A ritual is the celebration of an important event. Sometimes the importance of the event fades or the celebration changes due to some reason. In Holland - for example - there is a national holiday on the thirtieth of April, due to a Royal tradition; the celebration of the queen birthday. In fact that specific date is no longer the birthday of the actual Queen, but that doesn’t make the celebration less important. In fact the 30th of April continuous to be a national day. And a day off.

Rituals are important because they forge the identity of a group. And it can also be used to rebuild the identity of a group.

The twelfth of October is a day that is celebrated by many countries in the world, all referring to the same event. Yet throughout the years the celebration has been changed in the various countries, according to the interpretation of the historical event that lies behind the tradition.

In Spain for example the twelfth of October is a national holiday. It is called Hispanic Day (Dia de la Hispanidad) and celebrates the discovery of America by Columbus. But not everybody in Spain shares the ritual. There is a small group in Catalonia that does ritualize this celebration but as an “a Spanish imperialistic legacy, " to which they oppose.

In South America (Argentina, Chile, e. o. ) the twelfth of October is also celebrated but as the - Day of the race. The “race" refers to the new heritage that emerges from the Spanish and indigenous cultures.

More recently, in Venezuela the same day is baptized as the - Day of Indigenous Resistance, also a new interpretation that goes without saying. Also in the U. S. the same day is celebrated under the name “Columbus Day. " But apparently even there appears to be a group that doesn’t agree with this ritual. In the state of Minnesota, Columbus Day is not celebrated, because many people in Minnesota believe that Vikings arrived in North America before Columbus.

The way in which these rituals are differentiated amongst the various communities show how each group protects is identity. In the Netherlands there is a group that uses the 30th of April to exhibit republican ideas. In Spain we see a similar differentiation where sub-communities follow their own plan (probably not only in Catalonia). But in the end, even though a few will oppose to the national identity (and ritual), they will accept their day off, and that is probably enough for the ritual to be successful.

© 2006 Hans Bool

(Information for this article is partly based on: http://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbus_Day / Hispanic_Day)

Hans Bool is the founder of Astor White a traditional management consulting company that offers online management tools. Have a look at some of our free management tools


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