Enjoy some fun and festivities in honor of this cool island in the Caribbean by celebrating Discovery of Puerto Rico Day. Learn some history, schedule a visit, or just have some fun in honor of this territory that is part of the US but has its own unique culture and history!
History of Discovery of Puerto Rico Day
On this date in 1493, Christopher Columbus and his ships made their landing in the territory that is now known as Puerto Rico. The name Puerto Rico translates to “rich port” due to the fact that parts of the island were filled with gold mines, and the Spanish were excited to settle this area because of its perceived wealth. Although this was the first time Europeans accessed the islands, there were tens of thousands of indigenous peoples, called Tainos.
Ruled by Spain for a few centuries, Puerto Rico eventually became a territory of the United States in 1898, following the Spanish-American War. Today, Puerto Rico’s residents are US citizens and the government continues to function with a Commonwealth constitution.
Now, more than 500 years after its discovery by Europeans, towns and cities all throughout the western coast of this Caribbean island continue to make a big celebration out of Discovery of Puerto Rico Day. In fact, this is marked as an official public holiday in Puerto Rico, which means many schools and offices are closed in honor of the day.
On this day, communities host festivities that might include parades, gatherings, speeches, floats and much more. In addition, children love to get involved with this day by dressing up in costumes as natives and acting out plays related to the Columbus landing.
And because no one is quite sure which was the location in Puerto Rico where Columbus first landed, several different communities host festivals and enjoy celebrating this important event that has had such an impact on the modern world!
How to Celebrate Discovery of Puerto Rico Day
With festivals, parades, carnivals and more taking place in Puerto Rico, there’s certainly plenty to do in honor of this event. Get involved with Discovery of Puerto Rico Day with some of these fun ideas:
Visit Puerto Rico
Join in on the fun by hopping on a plane and heading down to the Caribbean islands for a first-hand look at what Discovery of Puerto Rico Day is like. Most of the festivities take place on the western part of the island and, even though it’s only 100 miles long, it sure packs a cultural punch for visitors. And US citizens don’t need a passport for their trip.
San Juan is the largest city on the island, so that might be a great place to fly into, and Old San Juan should be offering some festivities of its own. With cool 16th century Spanish forts that overlook the sea, there’s plenty to do in this cool city. Then rent a car and drive to some of the other hot spots where Discovery Day festivities occur.
Host a Discovery of Puerto Rico Day Event
Those who have Puerto Rican heritage, or simply want to show appreciation for this territory, might consider hosting a small party or large gathering in honor of Discovery of Puerto Rico Day!
School teachers and parents can use this opportunity to teach children some history and culture of this island. Allow children to dress up in costumes, teach them about the history of the area, encourage them to write a poem, or perhaps allow them to create some art about the original natives who were inhabitants of this island before the Europeans came to town.
Learn Facts About Puerto Rico
One super way to get involved with the history and culture of this unique island might be to learn some bits of trivia in celebration of this Discovery of Puerto Rico Day. Share them with friends and family, put them on social media, or even host a little trivia game with them!
Here are a few Puerto Rico facts to get started with:
The discovery of the island of Puerto Rico took place on Columbus’ second journey to the New World, which took place in 1493, a year after his first landing in what is now the Bahamas.
Puerto Rico’s original name was San Juan Bautista, which was named by Columbus after Saint John the Baptist. The name was changed to Puerto Rico just a few decades later, in the 1520s.
Because it takes place in mid-November, Discovery of Puerto Rico Day usually acts as a symbolic beginning for the Christmas season on this island.
Sadly, the original native inhabitants of the island, the Tainos, were forced into systems of slavery as miners, as well as being affected by disease. Their culture was blotted out within 50 years of the arrival of Columbus.