Friday, February 15, 2013

Florida: What's not in its name

Ponce de Leon and Chief Agueybana
in Puerto Rico 

Most with an acquaintance of the Spanish language know "Florida" translates into English as flowers. But the state was not named for its preponderance flowers.

In 1513, a few days after Easter Sunday, the Spanish conquistador and first governor of Puerto Rico, Juan Ponce de Leon  (1474-1521), and his contingent landed in an area assumed to be near present day Cape Canaveral, an area not known for blooms. (There is dispute about the actual place he landed; St. Augustine, Cape Sable and other areas have been mentioned - none known for its flowers.)

Spanish historian Antonio de Herrera Tordesillas (1559-1625) wrote: "And thinking that this land was an island they named it 'La Florida' because they discovered it in the time of the flowery festival."

That festival is/was known as Pascua Florida or "flowery Easter." And so, Florida was named for when it was discovered, not for flowers that may or may not have been part of that 16th-century vista.

The Everglades, River of Grass, by Marjory Stoneman Douglas (Banyan Books, 1978)
Also: The Catholic Encyclopedia online at

Tags: How Florida was named, Ponce de Leon, Florida history, film researcher

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