The fall of Moslem Granada on 2 January 1492 to the victorious armies of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabel of Castile (sound like characters from
“Lord of the Rings” don’t they?), otherwise known as the Catholic Monarchs,
should be recognised for its great historical importance and declared a
national cultural asset.

This proposal has been made by the municipal and provincial governments
of Granada, both controlled by the right-wing Popular Party. To support their
proposal, they argue that the celebration has taken place annually since 1493
“without any known-of interruption”. That day in 1492, they go on, ad nauseum,
when the royal standard of Castile was unfurled above the city from the
Alhambra’s Torre de la Vela de la Alhambra, the (Christian) Reconquest of
(Moslem) Spain came to an end and with it the end of the Middle Ages in Spain.

The promoters of the proposal intend to strengthen this popular
tradition “without wanting to enter into polemics with other sectors of
society”, calling it a “commemoration” rather than a celebration. In today’s
free tolerant democratic and pluralistic Spain, there’s room to promote such a
unique and transcendental historic event which the Fall of Granada to the
Catholic Monarchs undoubtedly is, they claim.
Besides, argue its promoters, the tradition of celebrating the Fall of Granada
is supported by more than 90% of the city’s inhabitants and has been actively
celebrated for years as a matter of course, it being seen as a symbol of the
national unification of Spain.

Arguments against celebrating The Fall of Granada in 1492

The claim that the celebration has taken place annually since 1493
without any known interruptions sounds a bit dubious, if not to say
far-fetched. Referring to its continuity, it is certainly true that dictator
General Franco restored the
2 January celebration in favour of one on 26 May in honour of the local
nineteenth century liberal heroine, Mariana Pineda, which was popular during the Second
Republic (1931-1939). For some time now, an initiative, Granada
Abierta, has been campaigning to get the 2 January local public holiday
substituted by a holiday on 26 May (a much better time of year for a day off,
surely).

Overwhelmingly popular and celebrated as “a matter
of course”? A spokesperson of the city council said of the 2013 celebrations:
it had been “a bit
noisy”, with groups of the extreme right and extreme left confronting each other, but
there had been “no problems”. In fact, recent years have shown how the
celebration nurtures
neo-nazis and neo-fascist groups, with fascist symbols and xenophobic and
racist slogans merging in with the existing folklore. A placard reading “Por
una nueva reconquista” (for a new re-conquest) has appeared year after year at
the event, while an afternoon rally of neofascists at the statue of Isabel La
Católica at the end of the Gran Via was given permission to go ahead. By way of
contrast, the Platform against 2 January say at the previous year’s
celebration, 17 fines of 301 € were handed out to antifascists and their banner
that read “NO to racism, no to fascism, and no to the Toma (Fall)” was
confiscated.

The following images give an idea of how the Fall of Granada was celebrated as “a matter of course” and with “no problems”.

Is there not room for an innocent celebration of a
unique colourful historical event? Well, the ethnic-religious cleansing
of Jews and Moslems can hardly be considered a harmless, historical fact.
Besides, celebrating the Fall of Granada is a bit like celebrating the victory of William the Conqueror
at the Battle of Hastings, but with a fervour and bipartisan enthusiasm at odds
with the neutral historical facts. Ferdinand and Isabel the Conquerors have an
ideological dimension that is being kept alive today, one that William of
Normandy clearly doesn’t.

It was a historic event: the end of the Middle Ages, and a great day in
the history of Granada. The local poet, Lorca, in 1936, countered this at that
time conventional school-book view, saying “it was a dreadful day, a day when a
wonderful civilisation was lost to us, and with it its poetry, its science, its
art and architecture, to give way to an impoverished and oppressed city where
today the worst bourgeoisie in Spain holds sway”. And a day that was to lead in
the Spanish Inquisition, he might have added.

The Popular Party proposal did not prosper, by the way.

Sources: E. Press
Granada Granada Hoy 15.01.2013; Plataforma Contra el 2 de Enero Press Release 30.12.12; Valme Cortes Granada El Pais 2.1.13 Lorca interview 10.7.1936, six weeks before he
was murdered in Granada – by “the worst bourgeoisie in Spain”.