Gibraltar National Day

Every year on the 10th of September our streets come alive with our national colours of red and white.  National Day does not fail to create a sense of unity amongst our community.  This is OUR day.  A day to celebrate our history and identity as a people.  A day to remind those who would do otherwise that only the Gibraltarian people can decide our futures. Join us as we delve into the fascinating tale of Gibraltar’s past, discover the significance of the 10th of September, and explore the exuberant festivities that mark Gibraltar National Day. A Glimpse into Gibraltar’s History By way of background for our non-native readers, Gibraltar is a small British Overseas Territory which is located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula.   Over the centuries, Gibraltar has been a sought-after territory due to its strategic location, guarding the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. As a result, Gibraltar’s history, and indeed its culture, is one which has been influenced and shaped by successive occupations over the centuries.  Early History Gibraltar was first inhabited over 50,000 years ago by the Neanderthals with evidence suggesting that Gibraltar may have been their last place of habitation.  There is also evidence of the Phoenicians, ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Carthaginians and Romans also having occupied our rock with the latter having named it Mons Calpe meaning hollow rock. Moorish Occupation Between the the early 8th century to the late 15th century Gibraltar was occupied by the Moors who renamed the rock to Jebel Tariq (the mount of Tariq), this later evolving to Gibraltar.  Their presence also left an indelible mark on our cuisine, language (with elements of Arabic being evident in our local dialect of llanito) and architecture.  Many elements of Moorish design, such as the Moorish Castle and the  use of intricate tilework and decorative motifs, can still be seen in Gibraltar’s historic buildings.  Spanish Influence In the late 15th century, the Spanish Crown regained control of Gibraltar from the Moors, holding it until  it was ceded to Great Britain in perpetuity under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Despite this, Spain has repeatedly sought to regain control of our hometown using bullying tactics which have led to tensions that persist to this day.  Despite our difficult relationship with our neighbours, Spain’s influence is evident in Gibraltar’s architecture, culture, and cuisine. Spanish dishes, words, and customs have seamlessly integrated into the local way of life. British Influence Gibraltar’s modern identity is of course heavily shaped by Britain.  Having been under British rule since 1713 our legal system, educational institutions, and governance structures reflect a distinctly British character. English is the official language and British customs such as afternoon tea and the celebration of events like Guy Fawkes are a much loved part of Gibraltar’s cultural fabric. Other Influences Beyond the major historical occupiers, Gibraltar’s strategic location at the crossroads of Europe and Africa has attracted influences from a myriad of cultures. This mix of influences has resulted in a diverse and vibrant people who embrace their past while looking toward the future. Gibraltar’s National Day, as mentioned in the previous post, serves as an annual celebration of this eclectic history, where Gibraltarians come together to commemorate their shared heritage and express their commitment to a united and diverse community. The Significance of September 10th Gibraltar National Day is celebrated on the 10th of September to commemorate the 1967 referendum when the people of Gibraltar overwhelmingly (99.64%) rejected Spanish sovereignty and chose to remain under British jurisdiction. This historic decision solidified Gibraltar’s identity and marked the beginning of its journey towards self-determination. The date holds immense importance as a symbol of Gibraltarians’ determination to preserve our heritage, culture, and autonomy. A Day of Unity and Celebrations Gibraltar National Day celebrations as we now know them did not come about until 1992.  At the time, acting Chief Minister Joe Bossano and Denis Matthew, the then leader of the newly Self Determination For Gibraltar Group (SDGG) organised an event at the Piazza to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1967 referendum result.  The event was a huge success, so much so that the square could not fit the crowd that had come together to celebrate our right to determine our future as a people.  The event grew from here with celebrations being transferred to the larger Casemates Square.  Nowadays the Gibraltar National Day festivities commence with the Gibraltar Fair which takes place during the third week of August.  On the day itself, the celebrations typically kick off with a vibrant parade featuring local bands, dance troupes, and community organisations as well as a political rally.   Delightful Culinary Experiences Now of course no celebration is complete without indulging in delicious food, and Gibraltar National Day is no exception. Traditional Gibraltarian cuisine takes centre stage, offering a delectable array of flavours that reflect the territory’s rich cultural heritage.  Whilst many will celebrate at home with warm dishes such as paella, rosto and the like, many of us will flock to our local beaches.  As such, our food choices need to be easy to transport.  In this post, we focus on the traditional finger foods. Torta de patata Torta de patata, also known as Spanish potato omelette or tortilla de patatas, is a classic dish.  It is a simple and versatile dish and you just need a few ingredients to make it.  Torta de patata is a staple which we enjoy for school lunches, picnics in the countryside and our National Day beach celebrations. To make torta de patata, start by peeling and slicing potatoes (about half a kilo) into thin slices . Next, heat up a good amount of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the potatoes until they are soft and tender.   If you like your torta with onions, fry some sliced onions in a separate pan until soft and golden. In a bowl, beat three eggs and add the potato and onion mixture, along with a pinch of salt and

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