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While reading an article in El País online about the book collection of Lluís Companys available here I came across a phrase which surprised me. He was

fusilado por Franco en 1940, un día como hoy de hace 77 años.

The article was published on 15 October 2017.

This surprised me as I would have thought hoy, hace 77 años would have been the natural way to say it. Is this a literary style or am I wrong about the usual way of saying it?

9

I agree with the other answers, your choice of just "hoy, hace 77 años" is incorrect. What the other answers have not said is that the proper way to say this in Spanish (and by that I mean RAE's accepted way) is the following:

tal día como hoy

  1. loc. adv. En la misma fecha, pero de otro año, del día en que se habla.

Translation of the definition: "In the same date, but from another year, as the stated date". So, your original sentence should have been like this:

...fusilado por Franco en 1940, tal día como hoy hace 77 años.

If you say "un día como hoy" I may understand that the day was like today (the same weather). But with the "tal día como hoy" locution, there is no doubt. See the following example:

—Mañana —repuso la abuela— es día de Todos Santos. Seguramente no saldrá a pescar el tío Pedro.
—Pues bien —dijo la chiquilla—, será pasado mañana.
—Tampoco se pesca el día de los Difuntos.
—¿Y por qué? —preguntó la niña.
—Porque sería profanar un día que la Iglesia consagra a las ánimas benditas. La prueba es que unos pescadores que fueron a pescar tal día como pasado mañana, cuando fueron a sacar las redes se alegraron al sentir que pesaban mucho, pero en lugar de pescado no había dentro más que calaveras.

Fernán Caballero (Cecilia Böhl de Faber), "La gaviota", 1849 (Spain).

In this example you can clearly see that the expression "tal día como" is used to say that in that same date (día de Difuntos) but long ago something worth of mention happened.

It is also worth mentioning that this is a very old expression indeed:

E quanto duró la dicha çibdad de Cartago, sienpre la honraron e tobieron por deesa, creyendo que la su santidad los ayudaba en todas sus cosas, e fazíanle en cada año honra en tal día como ella [la reina Elisa Dido] murió.

Lope García de Salazar, "Istoria de las bienandanzas e fortunas", 1471-1476 (Spain).

The expression is now used to say that every year in the same date the queen's death was honored.

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"Hoy hace 77 años que fue fusilado" would be OK, but "Fue fusilado hoy, hace 77 años" would be a confusing way to say it, because the first thing you read is "Fue fusilado hoy" and, even though later you say "hace 77 años", it might force the reader to double check what they just read.
"Fue fusilado hace hoy 77 años" is clearer and the form I'm used to read in cases like this one.

I'm trying to get some CORDE and CREA results to back this up, but I'm having trouble getting it to search for "hoy hace" and "años" with unspecified words in between... so feel free to google "hace hoy" * años vs "hoy, hace" * años: you will notice that the former is commonly used like that, but the latter is used mostly as a heading ("Hoy hace * años que ...") and very rarely in the form you proposed.

But yeah, going back to your question: saying "un día como hoy de hace 77 años" is totally a matter of style, and definitely not the most common way to say it.

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I disagree that "hoy, hace 77 años" would be a more appropriate form of saying it, since hoy means today or En el tiempo presente (Hoy las ciencias adelantan cada vez más; La sociedad de hoy DRAE ). I would have favored

hace exactamente 77 years ago

Otro 15 de octubre, hace 77 años

When you say "un día como hoy" you could mean "lluvioso" as well as "October 15th". That "hoy" can mean multiple things.

But if you were to say "Hoy, hace X tiempo" you have some sort of "time paradox". It is today or X time ago? I definitely favor "un día como hoy de hace 77 años" to "hoy hace 77 años".

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Yes, the expression

... un día como hoy....

is a style.

The standard way to use it would be:

...fusilado por Franco en 1940, un día como hoy hace 77 años.

You are right: a more natural way to said it is

hoy, hace 77 años....
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