Columbus Day in United States
Quick FactsColumbus Day celebrates the arrival of Christopher Columbus on the American continent in 1492.
Columbus Day, which is annually on the second Monday of October, remembers Christopher Columbus' arrival to the Americas on October 12, 1492. This holiday is controversial because the European settlement in the Americas led to the demise of the history and culture of the indigenous peoples.
The achievements of Christopher Columbus are remembered on Columbus Day. ©iStockphoto.com/Nikada
What do people do?Officially, the people of the USA are invited to celebrate the anniversary of the discovery of their country with church services and other activities. In some towns and cities, special church services, parades and large events are held. Most celebrations are concentrated around the Italian-American community. The celebrations in New York and San Francisco are particularly noteworthy. In Hawaii Columbus Day is also known as Landing Day or Discoverer's Day.
Not all parts of the United States celebrate Columbus Day. It is not a public holiday in California, Nevada and Hawaii. Moreover, Native Americans’ Day is celebrated in South Dakota, while Indigenous People’s Day is celebrated in Berkeley, California.
Public lifeColumbus day is a public holiday in many parts of the United states, but is not observed or is not a holiday in some states. Government offices and schools are generally closed, but businesses may be open. The flag of the United States is displayed on Government buildings.
Christopher Columbus is often portrayed as the first European to sail to the Americas. He is sometimes portrayed as the discoverer of the New World. However, this is controversial on many counts. There is evidence that the first Europeans to sail across the Atlantic were Viking explorers from Scandinavia. In addition, the land was already populated by indigenous peoples, who had 'discovered' the Americas thousands of years before.
Columbus Day originated as a celebration of Italian-American heritage and was first held in San Francisco in 1869. The first state-wide celebration was held in Colorado in 1907. In 1937, Columbus Day become a holiday across the United States. Since 1971, it has been celebrated on the second Monday in October. The date on which Columbus arrived in the Americas is also celebrated as the Día de la Raza (Day of the Race) in Latin America and some Latino communities in the USA. However, it is a controversial holiday in some countries and has been re-named in others.
Columbus Day celebrations are controversial because the settlement of Europeans in the Americas led to the deaths of a very large proportion of the native people. It has been argued that this was a direct result of Columbus' actions. It is clear that the arrival of the European settlers led to the demise of a large proportion of the history and culture of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. It has also been argued that Columbus should not be honored for discovering the United States, as he only went as far as some islands in the Caribbean and never got as far as mainland America.
Note: timeanddate.com states the facts and issues associated with this observance but does not disclose its opinion on the matter.
Columbus Day Observances