“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…” The catchy start to famous poem/song taught to many over the years serves as a reminder of just how renown this holiday is. Columbus Day remembers the day that Christopher Columbus, a famous Italian explorer, arrived in the Americas. This was recorded as being on October 12, 1492. However, the day is celebrated on the second Monday in October of every year.
Columbus Day History
Historically, Christopher Columbus is most portrayed as the first European to arrive in and discover the Americas. However, this is a controversial point for many people. Part of this is due to the fact that evidence suggests that Vikings were actually the first Europeans to explore and try to settle the land. Moreover, there is proof that indigenous peoples had lived there for thousands of years prior to that. This makes it unlikely that Columbus “discovered” the Americas, especially since he is only known to have traveled to a few islands of the Caribbean, never making it to the mainland.
Furthermore, the arrival of Columbus and his countrymen led to the demise of a great many native peoples. This may have been a result of sickness brought with the Europeans as well as direct action taken. Whatever the case, much of the history and culture of these peoples were lost. For this reason, many current day celebrations are held to honor those lost and those that still live on from those indigenous tribes. They seek to bring awareness to the issues that these people struggle with today as well as their history and cultural richness.
How Its Celebrated
This year Columbus Day will be celebrated, for the most part, on October 8th. In some states and local governments, it a public holiday in which most businesses and schools are closed. However, some areas treat it as a normal business day.
Americans do not all celebrate the day in the same way. For some it is a momentous affair, celebrating the day of their country’s discovery. Some towns and cities hold annual festivals, special church services, parades and large events. The Italian-American community, in particular, is known for such celebrations. Large cities such as New York City and San Francisco typically participate in such fan-fare as well.
In Hawaii, the day is known as Discoverer’s Day, however, it is not celebrated as state holiday. Many other states have begun to celebrate is as Native American’s Day or Indigenous People’s Day instead. This is due to the controversial nature of the holiday. In Latin America and some Latino communities, the day is referred to as the DÃa de la Raza or Day of the Race. Yet still others have re-named it or do not celebrate it at all for the same controversial reasons.