Christopher Columbus arrived in America on October 12, 1492, and many countries in the world celebrate this day as an official holiday. The trend existed officially since the 18th century, but got officiated mostly from the 20th century. In the United States as per the Uniform Monday Holiday Act the day is observed on the second Monday in the month of October.
Columbus Day celebrations in the United States in the next five years:
- In 2014, Columbus Day is on Monday, October 13.
- In 2015, Columbus Day is on Monday, October 12.
- In 2016, Columbus Day is on Monday, October 10.
- In 2017, Columbus Day is on Monday, October 09.
- In 2018, Columbus Day is on Monday, October 08.
- In 2019, Columbus Day is on Monday, October 14.
People have always celebrated the voyage of Columbus since the colonial period. In the United States, the first State holiday for the occasion was adapted in the State of Colorado in the year 1906. However, even before that the Italian Americans have observed Columbus Day to uphold their heritage – the first such celebration being held on October 12, 1866, in the New York City. In fact Angelo Noce, a first generation Italian from Denver lobbied to promote the day to be a federal holiday. In the year 1934, President Roosevelt aided by the Congress and the Knights of Columbus made October 12 a federal holiday and named the holiday as Columbus Day. This was finally adopted by all the States of US in 1937. Since 1970, under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, the day got fixed to the 2nd Monday in October.
Columbus Day is a public holiday in many parts of USA. However, some States do not recognize it to be a public holidays. The States are — Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, South Dakota, Nevada, California, Florida, Iowa, Texas and Wisconsin. Here public life and offices mostly operate as is. Some of these States celebrate the day in an alternate form like Discoverers’ Day, Native American Day or Indigenous People's Day.
In the States that celebrate the day as a public holiday, non-essential Government departments do not function. Schools are often closed too for the occasion. No such regulation is applicable in case of retail stores or restaurants. Public transportation system October run a little erratic though.
- United States – Observances vary from region to region, especially because some States follow non observance of the occasion. Places where the event is observed, parades and events are generally organized, the largest being held at the New York City. The oldest celebration dates back to 1868 and was started by Nicola Larco in San Francisco – the event continues till date.
- Latin America – Known as Día de la Raza which literally translated means "day of the race", this day commemorates the first encounters that happened between the Europeans and the Native Americans.
- Venezuela – In Venezuela Día de la Raza celebrations were established by President Juan Vicente Gómez in 1921. However, under the dictate of President Hugo Chávez the name was changed in 2002 to Día de la Resistencia Indígena which when translated means Day of Indigenous Resistance to mark the native peoples’ resistance to European settlers.
- Costa Rica – Initially Costa Rica too celebrated Día de la Raza which changed since 1994. Since then the official holiday has been named as Día de las Culturas which when translated means Day of Cultures to mark the diversity of cultures that compose the Costa Rican population and heritage.
Since the 19th centuries the activists have objected to celebrating Columbus Day. The main ground of opposition was the fact that the day is related to immigrants and the Knights of Columbus, the service organization belonging to the Catholic fraternity. They opined that the promotion of the day would be in turn a promotion of Catholic influence. However, the more common ground of opposition at present is the actions that were taken by Columbus and European settlers in general against the native people of the land. This perspective gained momentum in the second half of the 20th century. Although initially the opposition was put forward by indigenous groups, later it spread to the mainstream. They disapprove of the cruel treatment that was shown towards the natives of the land as the Europeans tried to spread colonization thereby leading to the collapse of indigenous population. Another ground of opposition arises from the fact that Columbus himself was a social climber by nature who never allowed anything to come in between him and his ambition, and even indulged in exploitation, slavery, altering Biblical scriptures etc, for the purpose.
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