Celebrating the Discovery of Florida in 1513
As a native of Florida, I have to admit, Pascua Florida Day is not a holiday that I was very familiar with. It might be mentioned briefly on this day every year, but it is never a big celebration, at least not commonly. And it really should be. Let’s look at the history and see why we should be celebrating Pascua Florida Day.
Ponce de León was a spanish explorer who set out to find the fountain of youth. Think about the courage and persistence of explorers in the 1500’s. They did not know what they would find, but they were bold and set out to explore.
On his travels in early 1513, Ponce de León discovered Florida and first set foot on land in the area now known as St. Augustine. Florida is a unique and beautiful place in it’s natural habitat, especially in the spring when wildflowers are plentiful. When Ponce de Leon saw all of the beautiful wildflowers that spread across the land he called it La Florida. Because it was during the time of the Spanish Easter celebration, the Spaniards named it Pascua de Florida which is interpreted as Flowery Easter or Festival of Flowers.
April 2nd was actually the day Florida was first sighted. They didn’t actually make landfall until the following day. Many of the details are not confirmed or verified but the important thing is that it was Ponce de León who gave Florida it’s name and Florida was well-named. The State of Florida decided in 1953 to honor the day we were discovered with a proclamation designating April 2nd as Pascua Florida Day.