Columbus Day

I thought it would be easy to come up with a short little post about Columbus Day. I remember learning a poem in about 5th grade and thought I’d use that. It was not to be. I can only remember bits and pieces . I tried to google it and found lots of Columbus Day poems but not the one I’m looking for. It had a line Sailing West to Find The East and another line about The Nina, The Pinta and the Santa Maria and the refrain referred to the date…1492.

So with no poem to share I thought that instead I would share some Columbus Day Facts that I ran across.

  1. Columbus Day is not an American Holiday but is a New World Holiday.
  2. Spain celebrates Columbus Day as Fiesta Nacional or “National Day”.
  3. Hawaii and South Dakota do not celebrate Columbus Day.
  4. Columbus Day first became an official State holiday in Colorado in 1906.
  5. It became a Federal Holiday in 1937.
  6. Many Italian-Americans observe Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage, the first occasion being in New York City on October 12, 1866.
  7. San Francisco claims the nation’s oldest continuously existing celebration with the Italian-American community’s annual Columbus Day Parade.
  8. New York City boasts the largest celebration.
  9. In 2007, Dane County Wisconsin Supervisor Ashok Kumar replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day.
  10. South Dakota renamed the holiday “Native American Day”.
  11. Hawaii celebrates Discoverers’ Day, the day the Polynesians arrived in Hawaii.

Columbus Day is not without opposition by factions who feel that the day is being used to expand the Catholic influence. This opposition dates back to at least the 19th century.

A 2nd wave of opposition is based on the man himself and his character. Columbus has been described as a social climber and self promoter who would stop at nothing to advance his ambitions .

The Niña and Pinta

As more and more historians dig into the past, more facts seem to emerge and more of the myths are being dispelled. It remains to be seen if the weight of this growing body of evidence will eventually sway public opinion to the point that Columbus Day becomes just a quaint footnote or continues as a viable holiday. In the meantime, I will raise a cup of grog to the intrepid mariners of the day that dared to sail away to unknown seas and new lands.

(Photo courtesy of the Columbus Foundation and their two Columbus replica ships – their original Niña, the most historically accurate replica of a Columbus Ship ever built, and their recently built Pinta.)


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