Christopher Columbus Holiday
First Landing of Columbus on the Shores of the New World, after the painting by Discoro Téofilo de la Puebla Observed by Various countries in the Americas, Spain
Significance Celebrations honoring Christopher Columbus' first voyage to the Americas in 1492.
Date October 12 (actual/traditional); second Monday in October (observed in the United States).
Related to Thanksgiving in Canada, which falls on the same date
Many countries in the New World and elsewhere celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas, specifically the Bahamas, which occurred on October 12, 1492 in the Julian calendar and October 21, 1492 in the modern Gregorian calendar, as an official holiday. The day is celebrated as Columbus Day in the United States, as Día de la Raza in many countries in the Americas, as Día de las Culturas (Day of the Cultures) in Costa Rica, as Discovery Day in the Bahamas, as Día de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional in Spain and as Día de las Américas (Day of the Americas) in Uruguay. These holidays have been celebrated unofficially since the late 18th century, and officially in various countries since the early 20th century.
Columbus Day first became an official state holiday in Colorado in 1906, and became a federal holiday in 1934. However, people have celebrated Columbus' voyage since the colonial period. In 1792, New York City and other U.S. cities celebrated the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World. In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to celebrate Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event. During the four hundredth anniversary, in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day rituals to teach ideals of patriotism. These patriotic rituals were framed around themes such as support for war, citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation, and celebrating social progress.
Catholic immigration in the mid-19th century induced discrimination from anti-immigrant activists such as the Ku Klux Klan. Like many other struggling immigrant communities, Catholics developed organizations to fight discrimination and provide insurance for the struggling immigrants. One such organization, the Knights of Columbus, chose that name in part because it saw Christopher Columbus as a fitting symbol of Catholic immigrants' right to citizenship: one of their own, a fellow Catholic, had discovered America.
Some Italian-Americans observe Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage, the first occasion being in New York City on October 12, 1866. Columbus Day was first popularized as a holiday in the United States through the lobbying of Angelo Noce, a first generation Italian, in Denver. The first official, regular Columbus Day holiday was proclaimed by Colorado governor Jesse F. McDonald in 1905 and made a statutory holiday in 1907. In April 1934, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt October 12 was made a federal holiday under the name Columbus Day.
Since 1971, the holiday has been fixed to the second Monday in October, coincidentally the same day as Thanksgiving in neighboring Canada (which was fixed to that date in 1959). It is generally observed today by banks, the bond market, the U.S. Postal Service and other federal agencies, most state government offices, and some school districts. Some businesses and some stock exchanges remain open, also some states and municipalities abstain from observing the holiday.
Actual observance varies in different parts of the United States, ranging from large-scale parades and events to complete non-observance.
Columbus Day remains a celebration in New York state, and government offices are closed, as are public schools. Not all universities in the state university system, SUNY, choose to observe the holiday. Denver, Colorado hosts a parade each year, which has been protested by Native American groups and their supporters for nearly two decades. Virginia celebrates two legal holidays on the day, Columbus Day and Yorktown Victory Day, which honors the final victory at the Siege of Yorktown in the Revolutionary War.
As in the mainland U.S., Columbus Day is a legal holiday in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. In the United States Virgin Islands, however, the day is celebrated as "Puerto Rico-Virgin Islands Friendship Day." The state of Hawaii does not officially honor Columbus day and instead celebrates Discoverer's Day, commemorating the Polynesian discoverers of Hawaii, on the second Monday of October. The state government does not treat either Columbus Day or Discoverer's Day as a legal holiday; state, city and county government offices and schools are open for business, while federal government offices are closed. Some advocacy groups, including those that meet at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace and the Chancery building of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, propose an Indigenous Peoples Day for Hawaii. Similarly, the city of Berkeley, California has replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day since 1992. San Francisco claims the nation's oldest continuously-existing celebration with the Italian-American community's annual Colombus Day Parade, which was established by Nicola Larco in 1868. Nicola Larco was a community leader and founder of La Società Italiana di Mutua Beneficenza (itself established in 1858 and now the oldest continuously-existing Italian-American organization in the United States). Larco was also the business partner of Domenico Ghirardelli (the chocolate king). South Dakota celebrates the day as officially a state holiday known as "Native American Day" rather than Columbus Day. Columbus Day is not a legal holiday in Nevada, but it is a day of observance; schools and state, city and county government offices are open.
Our post office and banks here in our town will be closed and even the school is closed this year.