History of Christopher Columbus Day

posted in: Holidays | 0

Columbus Day celebrates the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the European discovery of the American continent, which occurred on October 12, 1492.

This holiday is not only celebrated in the United States but in many countries that consist of the America’s, both North and South.

The holiday unofficially began in the late 18th Century, and officially began to be recognized in various countries beginning in the early 20th Century.

In the United States, San Francisco claims the longest existing celebration, having begun in 1868.  New York host the largest celebration, though.

Various states observe the holiday in a variety of ways.  For some states it is a paid holiday but for other states it is not a paid holiday.   There are four states in the union that do not observe Columbus Day at all.  They are Hawaii, South Dakota, Oregon and Alaska.  

Many Latin American countries, including Colombia {which was named for Columbus} also have large celebrations.

Italy and Spain both observe a “Discovery of the New World” celebration on this date. 

Canada’s Thanksgiving also is designed to fall on Columbus Day.

Christopher Columbus was born in 1450-1451 Genoa, which is today part of numerous European countries including Italy.

Columbus proposed to sail westward toward the East Indies.  He eventually received the support of the Spanish Crown.

During his first voyage he reached the America’s instead of his destination in Japan.  He made three additional trips to the
America’s and began the exploration of the American continents.

He called the inhabitants of these new lands indios, which is Spanish for Indians.

His relationship with the Spanish crown became strained and he was later arrested and dismissed from his duties.

Christopher Columbus died on May 20, 1506 in Valladolid, Spain.  He was about 54 years of age.

While Columbus is honored with the distinction of discovering the Americas, he is not the first Explorer to reach the new continents.  In the 11th Century, Viking explorer Leif Erickson reached the Americas.  It was only upon Columbus discovery that European exploration, conquest and colonization began. 

Historian Martin Dugard said, “Columbus’s claim to fame isn’t that he got there first but that he stayed.”

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