Pascua Florida Day
This is the state holiday of Florida, commemorated around the date of the State’s discovery, ranging from April 1-3rd. The name comes from Juan Ponce de León, who discovered Florida in 1513, naming it Pascua Florida. “Pascua” means “Easter” in Spanish, as the state was discovered close to this holiday.
Pascua Florida is not a much publicized holiday, but some schools, museums, or libraries may hold educational or patriotic events.
Florida was one of the first states visited by European explorers and settlers. Juan Ponce de León arrived in Florida on March 3, 1513. He named the territory Pascua Florida, or “flowery land,” after the Spanish Feast of the Flowers celebrated at Easter time. It is said that de León was looking for the Fountain of Youth. However, shortly after arriving in Florida with about 200 men, the group was attacked by Native Americans. The explorer was hit by an arrow, dying after the group fled to Cuba.
The territory was eventually settled by groups from Spain and France, and then eventually Britain. The groups constantly fought over land, with each other and native tribes. Other rough conditions included hurricanes and famine. During this time, Florida was the site of one of the first communities of freed slaves, offering freedom to slaves fleeing from the colonies if they agreed to convert to Catholicism.
Britain acquired Florida after signing the Treaty of Paris in 1763, ending the Seven Year’s War between Britain, France, and some native tribes. Wars with native tribes, including the Seminoles, continued into the mid-19th century. Florida officially became a state on March 3, 1845, the same day that de León arrived on its shores hundreds of years earlier.
Florida Fun Facts
- Florida was the southern state with the least population until the middle of the 20th century.
- Boll weevils have a history of devastating Florida agriculture.
- It is the home of Cape Canaveral, one of NASA’s launch sites.
- Clearwater, Florida holds the record for highest rate of lightning strikes in the US.
- Gatorade was developed at the University of Florida, named after the school’s mascot.
- Suntan lotion was invented in 1944 in Miami Beach.
- Key Largo, Florida, has gained recognition as the Dive Capitol of the World