12 Interesting Facts about Columbus Day
Today is Columbus Day, commemorating the 520th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. To mark the occasion, here are some interesting facts about this holiday.
- Christopher Columbus actually arrived in this part of the world on October 12, 1492.
- The day is celebrated in many places around the world with several different names. For example, in Latin America it is called Día de la Raza to commemorate the arrival of Hispanic peoples in the New World. It is also known as Día de las Americas in Uruguay and Fiesta Nacional in Spain.
- People have been commemorating this event since colonial times but in the US Colorado was the first state to make the day an official holiday in 1906.
- Columbus Day was named a federal holiday in 1937.
- San Francisco has the oldest continuously running Columbus Day celebration in the US. Its annual Columbus Day parade started in 1868.
- Instead of Columbus Day, the state of Hawaii celebrates the discovery of the territory by the Polynesians. This holiday is called Discoverers Day. Alaska and South Dakota do not celebrate the holiday either. Dakota has another state holiday around the same time.
- Christopher Columbus started his voyage on August 3, 1492. During the voyage he travelled for three weeks without seeing land, the longest journey of this type.
- Although Columbus sailed from Spain he was actually born in Italy.
- Columbus never landed on the American mainland on any of his voyages. On his first voyage, he landed on San Salvador (or Watling Island) in the Bahamas.
- Columbus was actually looking for Asia on his voyage but obviously he didn’t find it here. Amerigo Vespucci, who gave the country its name, was the first to realize that these lands were not part of Asia.
- Some people oppose the celebration of Columbus Day because of the cruelty to and decimation of indigenous peoples that followed his discovery.
- Columbus’s body was buried, exhumed and re-buried in places as diverse as Valladolid and Santo Domingo. However, recent reports suggest that his bones are in Seville, Spain.
Will you be celebrating Columbus Day?