Happy Columbus Day everyone! Today we celebrate Christopher Columbus’ landing in North America. Technically, the anniversary date is October 12th – but you know how we like to move holidays to Monday so Federal workers have a 3 day holiday.
Think back to your grammar school history lessons and you’ll remember that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 – so this year we celebrate the 526th anniversary of his landfall in San Salvador. Columbus Day isn’t as big a deal here in Chicago as it was when I lived in New York City – but did you know it is also celebrated all over Latin America as well as in Italy and Spain? I’m guessing the large numbers of Italians in NYC have something to do with the popularity of the holiday there.
Celebrating Columbus dates back as far as 1792 in the U.S. and was first celebrated nationally on the 400th anniversary as proclaimed by President Benjamin Harrison. President Franklin Roosevelt and Congress officially named Columbus day as a Federal holiday in 1934 as lobbied for by the Knights of Columbus and prominent New York City Italian leader Generoso Pope.
Columbus Day is not without controversy – anti-immigration groups in the 1800s including the Ku Klux Klan opposed celebrating a holiday associated with Catholics and Italians. More recently, groups opposing what European settlers did to indigenous people have also opposed the holiday leading some states to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, Native Americans Day or Discoverer’s Day in its stead.
Want to know more about Columbus and Columbus Day? Check out these links:
I’m not sure how to celebrate Columbus Day – as far as I know, there isn’t a traditional meal or Hallmark card but have a happy day anyway!