Network: Publications, Clubs, and Trips > Fiesta de la Lengua Española
On the 23rd of April every year, the Institute celebrated the Fiesta de la Lengua Española (or Cervantes Day), in commemoration of the great Spanish author. At the Casa Hispánica or on campus, the Fiesta was usually celebrated with evening programs that included choirs of folk songs, traditional dances, poetry recitations, plays, musical performances, among other presentations.
Every year at the Fiesta de la Lengua, each of the associated Spanish clubs rewarded their best students or those who had written the best essay on the figure of Cervantes with a bronze medal and a diploma that were previously mailed by the Institute. Both the medal and the diploma were designed by Catalan artist Ismael Smith, who was part of the Institute's art commission.
The emblems engraved on the front and reverse of this medal reflect the political and cultural project of Spain within the framework of which the Hispanic Institute --then still named Instituto de las Españas-- was founded.
On the front is the Lady of Elche, an Iberian sculpture carved in limestone between the 5th and 4th centuries BC and found by chance in 1897 near Elche. On the reverse, next to a globe showing the American continent, Cervantes holds a caravel in his hand. Above his head, a verse by the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío, father of Latin American Modernismo. The use of Darío's verse among symbols so deeply identified with Spanish colonialism --such as the caravel, the globe, and Cervantes-- perfectly embodies a project of cultural expansion that, against the nascent Pan-Americanism, sought to install Spain as an unavoidable intermediary for relations between the United States and Latin America.