The Actual Meaning of Columbus Day

What Columbus Day Really Means

Columbus Day is probably one of the most controversial federal holidays in the US. The reasons are various: the number of deaths in the discovered world caused by European diseases, Columbus’s attitude towards the indigenous inhabitants, the actual territories Columbus mapped, etc. At the same time, the fact remains that it is just a holiday, which means that everyone has a day off either from work or school.

Taking into account the fact that Columbus Day is a good reason to have one more day off, the holiday gains its advantageous points. Since many jobs do not provide much time off, having a day off due to a federal holiday can’t be a disadvantage. Everyone needs a break from time to time, don’t we?

Undoubtedly, not each occasion should involve merry celebration. There are holidays where we mourn for the dead (Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day), commemorate significant hardships (Labor Day), or observe some historically crucial but sad events.

President Benjamin Harrison was the first to proclaim Columbus Day as a national holiday in 1892. It happened only 400 years after the first voyage of Christopher Columbus and his crew. The initial idea of the holiday was to recognize both Native Americans and the immigrants, mainly Italians at the time of Columbus. It was to be a holiday to celebrate the discovery that united the Old and New Worlds. Columbus Day was supposed to acknowledge the greatness of all the Americans, but chiefly Italians and Native Americans.

The very first Columbus Day parade in New York was a huge event, which gathered all Americans. Consequently, it was an event to mark the first encounter of the indigenous Americans and the future ones. Despite the sufferings original Americans had to experience, the number of achievements due to that encounter is astonishing.

The holiday should mark the historical event rather than the person. Thus, despite the criticism Columbus gets nowadays, it was him who discovered the New World, uniting two distant cultures and sharing both positive and negative experience. Due to his momentous discovery, Columbus can be considered as a man of daring and extraordinary ambition. Therefore, this world-changing occasion sounds like a pretty decent excuse for having a day off from work.

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