Those of us living in the Valencian Community have a lucky break this weekend – two festivos (or, ‘red days’ as they are often referred to by international residents) falling on a Friday and a Monday. The festivos falling this way means that many of us will enjoy four consecutive days off work or school.
If you’re new to the area, or perhaps just haven’t really thought about it yet, you might not know why the 9th and 12th of October are such important celebrations in this part of Spain.
Día de la Comunidad Valenciana
The first red day coming up this month is October the 9th, which marks the day of the Valencian Community. The date was chosen to mark the anniversary of King Jaime I El Conquistador’s capture of the city of Valencia from Moorish forces in 1238 and has been celebrated since the 14th Century. Jaime I, of Aragon, took control of the area that is now known as the autonomous community of Valencia in 1208. He later managed to capture the city of Valencia on October 9, 1238 and created the Kingdom of Valencia, an independent country under his control, later that year. Valencia then became a part of the Kingdom of Spain in 1707.
In some places, and especially from government buildings on October 9th, you will see the flag of the Valencian Community flying. The flag is based on the heraldic symbol of the ancient kingdom of Aragon, known as the Senyera and has been in use since 1159. Look out for a traditionally shaped rectangular flag with gold/yellow and red horizontal stripes. The side nearest the flagpole has a blue vertical stripe with decoration.
Fiesta Nacional de España
The Fiesta Nacional de España, which is often referred to as Día de la Hispanidad, is the national day of Spain. It is held annually on October 12 and is a national holiday. It commemorates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s first arrival in the Americas in 1492. The celebration was known as Día de la Hispanidad (marking Spain’s connection to the international Hispanic community) but was changed in the late 1980s to Fiesta Nacional. The day is one of two days celebration Spain and Spanish-ness, the other being Constitution Day which falls on December 6th.
Under normal circumstances, there are usually military parades but the celebrations this year are bound to be more low key due to the Covid-19 situation across the globe.
Things to do over the long weekend
In any case, many families will be enjoying time together over the long weekend with four days off work and school. If you’re on the Southern Costa Blanca, you can enjoy the beaches which are less crowded at this time of year. Some new rules are in place for beachgoers, but these are well signalled at the entrances to each beach along the coast. If you enjoy hiking or walking, there are some amazing routes for all levels of fitness – try the app Wikiloc for a good overview of what’s available in your area. There is also a new set of hiking and cycling routes starting out from Los Montesinos, in front of the church. Informative boards are in place with QR codes allowing you to download the routes directly to your phone. Choose from 3km right up to 40km! There’s even a bicycle pump to put air in your tyres before you set off.
One of our favourite activities is geocaching – a global, free treasure hunt which is great fun for all ages and gets you out in the open and discovering new places. Check out the website geocaching.com for more information on how to get started. You’ll soon be hooked! A great place to start geocaching is La Mata natural park – even if you don’t end up searching for caches, it is a beautiful place for a walk, birdwatching or just to enjoy a picnic.
Whatever you’re doing this weekend, enjoy it, and stay safe!