Columbus Day Origin

by James
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Columbus Day Origin

Columbus Day Origin; Columbus Day is a public holiday in the United States that commemorates Christopher Columbus’s arrival to the Americas on October 12, 1492. The day is celebrated annually on the second Monday of October. But how did this holiday come into existence? The origin of Columbus Day dates back to the late 19th century when Italian-Americans lobbied for a national celebration to recognize not only Christopher Columbus’s achievements but also their contributions to American society. 

In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation urging Americans to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s landing in America to honor their Italian heritage, despite opposition from some groups who saw Columbus as a symbol of oppression and colonization.

Early Life and Career of Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus was a renowned explorer who set sail on his first voyage to the Americas in 1492. However, little is known about his early life and career before he embarked on this historic journey. Born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451, Christopher Columbus was the son of a wool weaver and had four siblings. His father’s occupation meant that the family was not wealthy, but they were comfortable. You may be interested in this post also: Columbus Day Renamed

At fourteen, Christopher began working as an apprentice for his father’s trade. However, he soon realized he did not want to follow in his father’s footsteps and decided to pursue a career at sea. He moved to Lisbon, Portugal, in 1477, where he worked as a mapmaker and studied navigation techniques under the tutelage of experienced sailors.

Columbus’s Voyages to the New World

Christopher Columbus is an iconic figure in world history. He was a skilled navigator who made four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain to the Caribbean and South America, initiating European exploration and colonization of the New World. Columbus’s voyages were among the most significant events in world history, sparking a new wave of exploration, trade, and colonization that would shape the modern world.

The first voyage of Christopher Columbus took place on August 3, 1492. The expedition started with three ships – the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria – from Palos de la Frontera in Spain. After sailing for five weeks across the Atlantic Ocean, they finally reached land on October 12. Columbus claimed this land for Spain and named it San Salvador (Holy Savior).

Controversies Surrounding Columbus Day

Controversies surrounding Columbus Day have been a topic of discussion for many years. Some people argue that the holiday celebrates the beginning of colonization, which led to the mistreatment and displacement of Indigenous peoples. Others say Columbus Day should be celebrated as a cultural heritage, highlighting Italian-American achievements in American history.

The controversy stems from Columbus’ arrival in America and his subsequent actions towards the Indigenous people he encountered. Many historians agree that Columbus was responsible for enslaving and killing Native Americans while also causing an epidemic by introducing new diseases to their population. It has led some cities and states to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day or other alternatives. Despite these controversies, some still celebrate Columbus Day as a symbol of Italian-American culture and heritage. Italian Americans are proud of their contributions to American society, which include food, music, fashion, art, literature, and more.

The Origins of Columbus Day

The Origins of Columbus Day can be traced back to the year 1892. During this time, the United States celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the New World. In honor of this event, President Benjamin Harrison declared that October 12 would be a national holiday known as Columbus Day.

At first, Italian Americans primarily celebrated Columbus Day to recognize their heritage and contributions to America. However, over time it became more widely recognized and became a federal holiday in 1937.

Despite its origins as a celebration of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America, there has been controversy surrounding the holiday due to his treatment of indigenous people. Some states have even replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day to acknowledge and honor Native American history and culture.

The Evolution of Columbus Day Celebrations

Over the years, Columbus Day has been celebrated in various ways that reflect Americans’ changing attitudes and beliefs. When it was first proclaimed a federal holiday in 1934, it primarily celebrated Christopher Columbus’s “discovery” of America. Parades were held nationwide, and schoolchildren learned about his voyages.

However, as awareness grew about Columbus’s impact on indigenous peoples and their cultures, many began to question whether he should be celebrated. It led to protests and called for the holiday to be abolished or replaced with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Some cities have already made this change.

As we grapple with these issues as a society, the evolution of Columbus Day celebrations will likely continue. It remains important to remember our history and its complexities while striving towards inclusivity and respect for all cultures.


What is the origin of Columbus Day?

Columbus Day commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas on October 12, 1492.

When did Columbus Day become a national holiday in the US?

Columbus Day became a national holiday in the US in 1937, after lobbying efforts by Italian-American groups.

Why is Columbus Day controversial?

Columbus Day is controversial because it celebrates the arrival of European colonizers who brought disease, exploitation, and violence to Indigenous peoples in the Americas.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Columbus Day has been celebrated since the late 19th century and has become a part of many American traditions. The origin story of Columbus Day is complex, but the central theme of celebrating exploration and discovery remains. While some oppose celebrating this holiday, it remains an important aspect of American history today. It is essential to remember that Columbus Day does not exist only to honor Christopher Columbus but also to recognize the spirit of exploration and courage for future generations.

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