Today in History: Columbus Day

Today is Monday, October 11, 2010 and it is Columbus Day.

Columbus Day is the celebration of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the New World in 1492.  It is primarily celebrated in the United States, Spain, Costa Rica, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and a few countries in South America.

Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1934, although there are three states that either don’t celebrate the day or have altered the day in some way.  Many Italian Americans celebrate the day as a way of celebrating their heritage (since Christopher Columbus was Italian).   Some states and cities have large parades and a few events.  Other places don’t do anything at all to observe the day.

In Puerto Rico the day is called Puerto Rico-Virgin Islands Friendship Day.  In Costa Rica it is Day of the cultures.  It’s Discovery Day in the Bahamas, Day of the Americas in Uruguay and National Festival in Spain.

The State of Hawaii does not celebrate Columbus Day; instead, they commemorate the Polynesians who discovered Hawaii on the same date, Discoverer’s Day.  Schools, businesses, and the government is open in Hawaii.  South Dakota also dos not celebrate Columbus Day.  They celebrate Native American Day and all businesses, schools and government offices are open.

Many cities in California prefer to have Indigenous People’s Day, celebrating the fact that there were people in the Americas already so Columbus could not have discovered anything.

There is also some opposition to Columbus Day celebrations.  Some people feel like it overly emphasises Columbus’s Catholic influence.  Other people feel that Christopher Columbus is not a person to be celebrated.  They malign his character as being self serving, one who would revert to exploitation and slavery to get what he wanted. Some Christian groups are opposed to Columbus Day because it against the ideals of freedom and an opportunity for oppression.

And just for your information, some people do not credit Columbus with the discovery of North America, not just because of the native people already living there but because Leif Erikson, a Viking from Iceland, is considered to be first.  He brought the first Europeans to North America nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus.

 

You didn’t know before and now you do.

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3 responses to “Today in History: Columbus Day

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