Second Monday in October. We have been celebrating Columbus Day since 1792. That year, New York City held the first Columbus Day celebration commemorating the 500th anniversary of Columbus landing in 1492. For decades and decades, American history books and school teaching, told us Christopher Columbus discovered America. What those books and teachings did not give credit, to was the fact that Native Americans were already here. Native Americans truly discovered America. It also gave little mention, to the fact that Nordic explorers beginning with Leif Erikson had travelled down the eastern coast of Canada hundreds of years before Columbus arrived. Today, we celebrate Columbus Day for what it accurately is. Columbus did discover the existence of the New World for Europeans who until then, believed the world was flat and ended somewhere in the Atlantic. And, the focus is now more about discovery of the “New World”, and less upon Columbus himself. Did You Know? Columbus Day is increasingly referred to as “Discoverer’s Day”. Some key facts (in case you forgot them since grade school):
- Columbus Discovered America in 1492. He originally set sail on August 3, 1492, but had trouble with the ships, stopping at the Canary Islands for a month. The ships left the Canary Islands on September 3,1492.
- He travelled with three ships: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria
- While Columbus was an Italian, he could not procure funding in Italy, so he turned to the King of Spain. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella provided the funding.
- Christopher Columbus did not land on the U.S. mainland. He landed on an island in the Caribbean. While many believe he landed on San Salvador, there is still debate on which island he originally landed on.
In recent years, Columbus has fallen out of favor to many people for a number of reasons. First, in 1492, Columbus did not land on the mainland of the American continent. Second, Leif Erikson and Native Americans preceded him. Also, Columbus and many other European discoverers were seen as cruel conquerors and looters. This has given rise to Indigenous People Day. Did You Know? Anti-Columbus sentiment has grown in both North and South America. On Columbus Day, mock trials of Columbus are held in Peru. Italian Americans are one exception to the rule. They still hold Italian Christopher Columbus in high esteem. Thought of the Day: ” Life is a daring adventure, or it is nothing at all.” — Author Unknown