Columbus Day: Exploring The States And Its Significance

by James
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Columbus Day, which states do or don’t observe it? The answer might surprise you. While Columbus Day is a national holiday in the United States, celebrated on the second Monday of October, it is not recognized as a holiday in all states. In fact, several states have either replaced or entirely removed Columbus Day from their list of official holidays. The controversy surrounding this holiday has sparked debates and discussions about the history and treatment of indigenous people. In this article, we will delve into the various approaches different states have taken towards Columbus Day, shedding light on the ongoing conversations surrounding this important national holiday.

Columbus Day: Exploring the States and its Significance

Columbus Day: Exploring the Significance in Various States

Columbus Day is a holiday that is celebrated on the second Monday of October each year. It honors Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer who is credited with discovering the Americas in 1492. While Columbus Day is a nationally recognized holiday in the United States, its observance varies across different states. In this article, we will delve into the significance of Columbus Day in various states, shedding light on the unique traditions, controversies, and alternative observances associated with this holiday.

Columbus Day in New York

New York is home to one of the largest Columbus Day parades in the country, attracting thousands of participants and spectators each year. The parade marches along Fifth Avenue, featuring vibrant floats, marching bands, and cultural displays. The Italian-American community takes great pride in this celebration, showcasing their heritage and contributions to American society.

This day holds particular significance in New York due to the large population of Italian Americans residing in the state. The holiday provides an opportunity for them to come together, honor their ancestors, and celebrate the Italian culture that has become an integral part of the New York identity.

Columbus Day in California

In California, Columbus Day has been met with controversy and calls for reevaluation. The state recognizes the historical impact Columbus had on shaping the New World but also acknowledges the devastating consequences for the indigenous populations. Efforts have been made to redefine the holiday as Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Native American Day in certain cities and counties.

This shift in perspective aims to recognize and honor the Native American communities that inhabited the land prior to Columbus’ arrival. It serves as a reminder of the complex history of colonization and the need to acknowledge and respect the indigenous cultures that continue to thrive in California.

Columbus Day in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is another state where Columbus Day holds special significance. The city of Boston hosts a parade that celebrates not only Columbus but also the diverse heritage of the city’s residents. The parade features representatives from various ethnic communities, highlighting the multicultural fabric of Massachusetts.

In recent years, there has been a growing movement to emphasize the contributions of Italian Americans while acknowledging the atrocities committed against Native Americans. This balanced approach allows Massachusetts to commemorate its Italian-American heritage while promoting inclusivity and cultural diversity.

Columbus Day in Colorado

Colorado is unique in its observance of Columbus Day, as the state recognizes it as an official holiday but also designates the same day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This dual celebration reflects the state’s commitment to acknowledging both the achievements of Columbus and the history of Native American communities.

The city of Denver hosts a parade that pays tribute to the contributions of Italian Americans while also honoring the Native American cultures. The parade route includes stops at significant landmarks associated with both communities, fostering unity and understanding among different groups.

Columbus Day in Other States

While New York, California, Massachusetts, and Colorado exemplify the range of observances associated with Columbus Day, it is essential to recognize that each state has its own unique approach. Some states embrace the holiday wholeheartedly, using it as an opportunity to celebrate their Italian-American heritage and contributions to American society. Others have shifted the focus to honoring indigenous cultures or exploring alternative perspectives on the historical significance of Columbus.

Alternative Observances

In addition to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, some states and cities have introduced alternative observances or changed the name of the holiday altogether. These alternative observances aim to recognize the impact of colonization and promote inclusivity:

– Native American Day: Several states have designated the second Monday in October as Native American Day, honoring the rich traditions and contributions of Native American communities.

– Discoverers’ Day: This alternative observance emphasizes the spirit of exploration and discovery, celebrating the achievements of various explorers throughout history.

– Italian Heritage Day: In some states, Columbus Day has been rebranded as Italian Heritage Day, allowing for the celebration of Italian contributions to American society without focusing solely on Columbus himself.

Controversies Surrounding Columbus Day

Over the years, Columbus Day has faced criticism and controversies, primarily due to the treatment of indigenous populations upon Columbus’ arrival. Opponents argue that celebrating Columbus perpetuates a narrative that disregards the violence and injustices inflicted on Native Americans.

Calls for the removal of Columbus statues, renaming the holiday, and promoting alternative observances have gained momentum in recent times. Advocates for change believe that shifting the focus to acknowledging the histories and cultures of indigenous communities is a step towards reconciliation and a more inclusive understanding of American history.

The Importance of Dialogue and Education

The debate surrounding Columbus Day presents an opportunity for meaningful dialogue and education about the complexities of American history. By engaging in open conversations, learning from diverse perspectives, and promoting a nuanced understanding of the past, society can move towards a more inclusive and culturally aware future.


Columbus Day holds diverse meanings and observances across different states. While some states celebrate the holiday with grand parades, others have reevaluated its significance, focusing on honoring Native American cultures or exploring alternative observances. By recognizing the complexities of history and engaging in open dialogue, society can chart a path towards a more inclusive and culturally aware future.

History of the Holidays: Columbus Day | History

Frequently Asked Questions

Which states celebrate Columbus Day?

Columbus Day is a federal holiday celebrated in the United States on the second Monday of October. While it is a national holiday, not all states observe it as a public holiday.

Do all states recognize Columbus Day?

No, not all states recognize Columbus Day as a public holiday. In recent years, some states have chosen to replace or rename Columbus Day with alternative holidays or observances to acknowledge the indigenous peoples and their history.

Which states have chosen not to observe Columbus Day?

States like Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, South Dakota, and Vermont do not recognize Columbus Day as a legal holiday. Instead, they have opted to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Native American Day to honor and recognize the indigenous heritage and history of their states.

Why have some states replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day?

Some states have made the decision to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day to provide a more inclusive perspective on the history of the Americas. This change aims to recognize the contributions and resilience of indigenous cultures and to shed light on the often overlooked aspects of colonialism and its impact on native populations.

Which states still celebrate Columbus Day?

The states that continue to celebrate Columbus Day as a state holiday include Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Are there any states that have additional holidays related to Columbus Day?

Yes, some states have additional holidays or observances related to Columbus Day. For example, in Puerto Rico, Columbus Day is also celebrated as a public holiday known as Día de la Hispanidad (Hispanic Day) or Día de la Raza (Race Day), which commemorates Hispanic heritage and culture.

Final Thoughts

Columbus Day, which states celebrate on the second Monday in October, remains a contentious holiday. While some view it as a time to commemorate Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas and his contributions to world history, others see it as a celebration of colonialism and the suffering experienced by Indigenous peoples. The controversy surrounding Columbus Day raises important questions about the need for a more inclusive understanding of history and the recognition of the diverse perspectives of marginalized communities. As discussions continue, it is essential to reflect on the complexities of Columbus Day and strive for a more comprehensive and equitable approach to honoring historical events.

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