What is Columbus Day and why is it celebrated? (2024)

In this article, we fully decode the topic “What is Columbus Day and why is it celebrated“.

The official holiday in the United States known as Columbus Day honors explorer Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World on October 12, 1492.

Given that many academics contend that Genoa, Italy, was where Columbus was born, it also honors the cultural history of Italian Americans.

Since 1937, the United States has observed Columbus Day as a national holiday.

Originally observed on October 12, it was shifted to the second Monday of the month to provide employees with a long weekend.



What is Columbus Day and why is it celebrated?

On October 12, 1492, the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus made landfall on a little island in the Caribbean that he named San Salvador and claimed for Spain, the nation that had funded his expedition.

The island is now known as the Bahamas.

Even though millions of native people already existed in the Americas and Leif Eriksson, not Columbus, was the first European to arrive there, Columbus is still venerated in the US as the “discoverer” of the Americas.

The 300th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ landing, in 1792, saw the first commemoration of the holiday.

The popularity of Columbus Day festivities increased over the years, particularly in Italian American and other Catholic immigrant groups where, amid a general anti-Catholic attitude, Columbus was seen as a symbol of what it meant to be both Catholic and American.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt enacted a national holiday in 1937.

However, in recent years, activists and academics have drawn attention to the less positive meaning of Columbus Day.

Even though Columbus claimed in his letters that the locals he met were kind and welcoming, his men generally treated the natives cruelly; they pillaged villages to survive, and enslaved vast numbers of them for labor, sex, and sale in Europe.

Spanish missionary Bartolomé de Las Casas, who arrived in the Americas in 1502 and later became a vocal opponent of how Europeans treated native peoples, spoke of Europeans killing on a massive scale.

Furthermore, Columbus’ landing in the Americas marked the beginning of a period of European colonization and commercial exploitation of the continent, during which native peoples were massacred, driven from their homes, and destroyed by alien illnesses.

Numerous cities and organizations around the United States mark Columbus Day as a counter-celebration to the official holiday of Columbus Day.

Now Indigenous Peoples’ Day is on the second Monday in October.

The first commemoration of the day, which was first proposed by activists in 1977, took place in Berkeley, California, in 1992 as a protest against the quadricentennial anniversary festivities of Columbus’s landing.


How was Columbus Day established as a federal holiday in the United States?

How was Columbus Day established as a federal holiday in the United States

Columbus Day, a federal holiday observed on the second Monday of every October, was created in the late 19th century as a way to highlight Italian American heritage at a period when Italian immigrants were subject to severe discrimination.

However, the festival has subsequently come under controversy because it honors a man whose entry into the Americas signaled the beginning of the subjugation of Native Americans.

In several states and cities, Indigenous Peoples’ Days have taken its place in recent years.

(Across the continent, Native American nations assert their right to self-government.)


Alternatives for Columbus Day

Columbus Day has been controversial since the 19th century when anti-immigrant parties in the United States disapproved of the celebration due to its connection to Catholicism.

Native Americans and other groups have recently condemned the commemoration of an event that led to the colonization of the Americas, the start of the transatlantic slave trade, and the murder and disease deaths of millions of people.

Smallpox and influenza were just two of the deadly diseases introduced by European immigrants that destroyed native populations.

Numerous lives were also lost in battles between European colonists and Native Americans.

Here are five reasons we should still celebrate Columbus Day. 

1. Columbus embodied the spirit of America.

In his way, Columbus was a smart individual.

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, he was a “master navigator and admiral.

” He began his career as a merchant marine and sailed to many locations.

In 1477, he sailed to Iceland and Ireland; in 1478, he proceeded to Madeira.

Between 1482 and 1485, Columbus traded on tropical West Africa’s Guinea and Gold coastlines and made at least one trip to Elmina, Ghana.

After all of this, he embarked on four transatlantic journeys, beginning with his illustrious first voyage in 1492, to the “new world.”


2. Columbus undertook an adventure for his country and God

Columbus wrote this in a letter to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1493 after his first trip to the Americas:

“They manifest the greatest affection towards all of us, exchanging valuable things for trifles, content with the very least thing or nothing at all… I gave them many beautiful and pleasing things, which I had brought with me, for no return whatsoever, to win their affection, and that they might become Christians. 


3. Indigenous Peoples are also not permitted to celebrate Columbus Day.

Some Leftists claim that the fact that Christopher Columbus is being honored is a sign of the alleged genocide of Native American peoples.

The brutal genocide carried out by Native American tribes from Mexico to Peru against other Native Americans before the arrival of Europeans, however, is a topic that is rarely acknowledged.


4. Columbus Is Mostly Accused of Being Innocent

Although Christopher Columbus was not flawless, the majority of the crimes against him have been proven to be false.

In fact, “Columbus was generally friendly in his dealings with the native communities.

Columbus swiftly punished individuals under his command who carried out unfair acts against local communities, even though deprivations did occur.

The cruel deeds that have been attributed to Columbus were not committed by him.


5. Historical figures should be judged on their greatest successes rather than their worst failures.

Finally, I would argue that historical leaders should be revered for their tremendous accomplishments rather than their flaws or errors.

Even though George Washington held slaves, we ought to remember him for his military velour and astute leadership as our nation’s first president.

The Declaration of Independence, which Thomas Jefferson, another slave owner, wrote, is one of the greatest works in human history and played a significant role in the abolition of slavery and segregation in the United States.


What is Columbus Day called now?

Columbus Day, currently known as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, was first celebrated on October 12 but has been observed on the second Monday in October since 1971 to honor Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World on that date in 1492.

Columbus was a native of Genoa, Italy.

Throughout time, Italian Americans took up the cause of recognizing his accomplishments even though King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain provided funding for his voyages.

The Society of St. Tammany, or Columbian Order, commemorated his landing’s 300th anniversary in New York City in 1792, and its 400th anniversary was recognized nationally by presidential proclamation in 1892.

The day started to be observed in places with significant Italian-American populations in the latter half of the 19th century, and by presidential proclamation, it became a national holiday in 1937.

Parades, which frequently featured floats depicting Christopher Columbus’ ships, as well as open-air events and rituals, came to be used to honor the occasion.

By the time of the holiday’s quincentennial in 1992, it had become a forum for discussion of the European enslavement of American Indians.

Some people objected to its commemoration and suggested alternatives, including Indigenous Peoples’ Day.


Why was Indigenous Peoples’ Day created?

Indigenous Peoples’ Day was established as a substitute holiday for Columbus Day for people who disagree with the commemoration of what they view as the damaging European subjugation of Native Americans.

At the United Nations International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas in 1977, the idea of celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day rather than Columbus Day was first raised.


How is Indigenous Peoples’ Day observed?

Indigenous Peoples’ Day can be marked by focusing on the voices of Native populations and honoring their numerous accomplishments.

The festival has also been cited as an important opportunity to consider how popular historical accounts frequently fail to acknowledge the atrocities that native peoples in the Americas endured as a result of European colonization.



Below we share some FAQs

1. when was Columbus Day declared an official holiday?

1. In 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared October 12th, or Columbus Day, a federal holiday.

Columbus Day has been observed as a federal holiday every year since 1971 when the second Monday in October was chosen as its official date.


2. Is Columbus Day a federal holiday?

2. Columbus Day is one of the eleven federal holidays that are observed across the country by the US government.

On Columbus Day, all non-essential federal government offices are shut down.

Regardless of whether they take the day off, all federal employees are still compensated.


3. Why Christopher Columbus is important?

3. The “discovery” of the Americas in 1492 by explorer Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) aboard his ship Santa Maria is famous.


4. Who discovered America first?

4. By 1502, Amerigo Vespucci, a Florentine businessman and explorer, had realized that Columbus was mistaken and had convinced the rest of Europe that there was a New World.

Vespucci later inspired the naming of America.

Furthermore, neither guy made the first discovery of the Americas, as scientists today understand.


5. Do people work on Columbus Day?

You should be aware of the following when working on Columbus Day.

Do most Americans observe Columbus Day off from work?

Unfortunately, since Columbus Day is a federal holiday and all government offices will be closed, only federal employees are guaranteed a paid day off.


6. Are schools closed on Columbus Day?

6. On Columbus Day, the majority of public and private schools are closed, however, consult with specific schools’ or districts’ academic calendars.


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