(9/24/15) The Dominican Republic definitely has it’s share of national holidays! Today’s holiday  is called “Our Lady of Mercies” (La Virgen de las Mercedes). 400 years ago she was proclaimed as the patron saint of the Dominican Republic and the whole island of Hispaniola.

What this usually means is much more drinking and partying on the streets. For this reason it would be a good idea to limit travel if you can and try to stay off the main highways as much as possible. The death count on the highways frequently raises considerable during “Dias de Fiesta” or holidays.

Our Lady of Mercies” is a catholic celebration and a national holiday. Many banks, government institutions and other businesses will be closed today to observe the festival.

As with many of the Catholic saints, this saint is said to have manifested herself (or appeared visible to humans) several times in the past. Catholic lore states that she first appeared in 1945 where she spoke to encourage a group of Spanish soldiers during the conquest of the Taino Indians.

Historical references state that the Spaniards  “took Taíno women for their common-law wives, resulting in mestizo children.Sexual violence in Hispaniola with the Taíno women by the Spanish was also common”. The Taíno became extinct as a culture following settlement by Spanish colonists as a result of diseases brought in by the Conquistadors (Spanish conquerors).

For us today, this means we need to be a bit more careful on the streets. While driving to a store this morning it became very evident that the drinking in our town had already started and it was affecting the traffic flow through town.