King Juan Carlos presided over a much reduced parade that featured none of the usual fighter jets or tanks. Instead, all that was on offer were 2,600 marching soldiers, 50 armored cars and seven trainer aircraft normally used for displays.
And 12 schools in the populous Catalonia region ignored the vacation as they refused to acknowledge a holiday that highlights Spanish unity over regional identities.
"We feel Catalan, we have nothing to celebrate," said Luis Plana, a parent-teacher association spokesman.
Oct. 12 is celebrated as the day Christopher Columbus discovered America in the name of the Spanish Crown.
Spain is in recession and under pressure to fix its finances.