A Closer Look at The History of Columbus Day

A Closer Look at The History of Columbus Day
Christina Comben

Today, October 10th is Columbus Day in the United States. For most people that means a day off work. Many of us don’t really think about the reason behind a much-needed holiday or a four-day working week. But Columbus was a pretty big deal. In fact, apart from being an intrepid explorer, Columbus actually discovered our great nation. Let’s take a closer look.

The New World

Columbus Day commemorates Christopher Columbus’ landing in the New World on October 12, 1492. All those years ago, the first European to set foot upon our shores arrived. But if Columbus landed on October 12th, why are we celebrating Columbus Day on the 10th? Well, Columbus Day is celebrated the second Monday of October. Although this day was recognized in a number of states in the 18th Century, it wasn’t until 1937 that Columbus Day became a federal holiday in the US.

A Controversial Celebration

The discovering of America as we know it today is not without its controversy. After all, Italian born and Spanish-backed explorer did not simply set foot on new land, take pictures and leave. In fact, he returned from his very first mission bearing gold, gems, spices and Indian captives.

Many Native Americans, with the support of other groups, have protested over the celebration of an event that caused the death of millions. Not only were many innocent people subject to torture, slavery or warfare, but European settlers also brought many infectious diseases along with them. Smallpox and influenza wiped out entire populations.

Dìa de la Raza (“Day of the Race”)

Many Latin American countries, including Colombia and Argentina have traditionally celebrated Columbus Day as Dìa de la Raza (“Day of the Race”) to recognize Hispanic Culture’s roots and history. In Venezuela in 2002, the day was changed to Dìa de la Resistencia Indìgena (“Day of Indigenous Resistance”) to recognize the native peoples and the atrocities they suffered. And in fact, just recently in Vermont and the city of Phoenix, Columbus Day has been changed to “Indigenous People’s Day” as a mark of respect.

Typical Columbus Day Celebrations

Whatever you choose to call this day, you can join in a local celebration in your home town or city. Celebrations range from street fairs and processions to reenactments and dances. Check out what’s going on in your city online, or just enjoy not working this Monday. But spare a thought for the innocent people caught up in America’s discovery.

Comment Below

More in Society

Emoji as Powerful as Words

Emoji Could Be Even More Powerful Than Words

Christina CombenApril 24, 2017

Pepsi Misses the Mark with “Cringeworthy” Commercial

Christina CombenApril 5, 2017

Julian Assange Questioned Over Sex-Crime Accusations

Denise RecaldeNovember 14, 2016

German Hotel Faces Heat Over “Racist” Cancelled Booking

Denise RecaldeNovember 1, 2016

Social Security Increase for 2017 is Less than $4

Bernadine RacomaOctober 18, 2016
President Barack Obama views science exhibits during the 2015 White House Science Fair celebrating student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, in the Red Room, March 23, 2015. The President talks with Emily Bergenroth, Alicia Cutter, Karissa Cheng, Addy O'Neal, and Emery Dodson, all six-year-old Girl Scouts, from Tulsa, Oklahoma. They used Lego pieces and designed a battery-powered page turner to help people who are paralyzed or have arthritis. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

World Observes the International Day of the Girl

Denise RecaldeOctober 11, 2016
Brown University

Brown University to Address Campus Racism with $100 Million 10-Year Plan

Day NewsNovember 23, 2015
Calif., Gov. Jerry Brown answers a question concerning the budget agreement reached with legislative leaders at a Capitol news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Accompanied by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, right, and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, unseen, Brown outlined the budget plan that send billions more to public schools and universities in the fiscal year that begins July 1. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Translation of Drug Information Now a Law in California

Day NewsOctober 16, 2015
Technology Workshops Connect Community Leaders

Technology Workshops Connect Community Leaders

Day NewsAugust 21, 2015