What is Columbus Day and why do we celebrate it?
Columbus Day formally became a national holiday in 1937, even though various areas of the country held unofficial celebrations more than a century earlier. The holiday is meant to celebrate Columbus’ landing in the Americas in 1492.
Previously observed on October 12 each year, the holiday was moved to the second Monday of October when the Uniform Holiday Act was enacted in 1968. For some, Columbus day is not just about celebrating his arrival in America, but it is also about honoring Italian-American heritage as a whole.
Columbus Day honors the contributions and achievements of Italian-Americans. However, there are people with more rigorous opinions that oppose the continued celebration of Columbus Day due to many controversies that happened many centuries ago when Columbus and his party arrived in the United States. Taking this into consideration, there was a proposal to observe Indigenous People’s Day as an alternative celebration to Columbus Day in the 1970s. In fact, several states have been celebrating it since then.
What is the difference between Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day?
Now that we know what Columbus Day is, let us now see what Indigenous Peoples Day is. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is an American holiday that cherishes and memorializes the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas and their history, heritage, and culture.
Many historians go in harmony that Columbus was not the first person and nor first European, to discover the Americas. Indigenous people had been living in the Americas for centuries before Columbus first put his foot on the continent.
More than 100 cities, like Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco, and also entire states, including Minnesota, Alaska, Vermont and Oregon, have substituted Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
This movement strives to bring awareness to Columbus’ treatment of indigenous people and to respect and celebrate indigenous culture. Berkeley of California was the first city to adopt Indigenous Peoples’ Day back in 1992. Instead of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Hawaii commemorates Discoverers’ Day on the second Monday of October, and South Dakota commemorates Native American Day. Many statues of Christopher Columbus around the world are being removed or replaced.
Celebrating Columbus Day 2021 – Facts & Controversies
Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas, part of the Americas, on October 12th, 1494. Columbus Day is meant to celebrate this coming. Christopher Columbus was an Italian sailor, born in Genoa, Italy in 1451. He sailed with three ships and 90 crew members on the expedition that sent him to the Bahamas. Unofficially, Columbus Day has been celebrated in the U.S. since the late 1700s but did not become an official holiday anywhere until 1906, when it became a state holiday in Colorado. In 1934 it became a federal holiday in the United States. In 1971 it became an anchored holiday, commemorated on the second Monday in October. Columbus Day is also celebrated in different countries including Latin America, the Bahamas, Spain, Argentina, Belize, and Uruguay. These countries have various names for the holiday, but the event they celebrate is the same.
There is a huge quantity of opposition to Columbus Day and what it stands for. The principal aim of Columbus’s expedition was to find wealth and conquer and exploit the new lands. Even though myriad indigenous peoples had been settled in the Americas way before Columbus arrived, Columbus’s aim was to rob the land for gold no matter who stood in his way. Columbus and his men maltreated the native people and used slavery and violence to get what they wanted. They also pushed natives to convert to Christianity and presented a number of diseases to the native people living there. These new diseases would end up killing communities, so many Americans argue that Columbus should not be commemorated for bringing illnesses and demolition to the Americas.
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