Autumn is coming and that means we are going to celebrate Columbus Day soon. This controversial holiday honors Christopher Columbus for opening the New World in 1492 and pays tribute to the Italian-American legacy in the USA. Why does Columbus Day provoke so much criticism nowadays?
The historical reference
Everyone knows the story of the brave Italian seafarer Christopher Columbus who tried to find the western route to India. His journey appeared to discover the New World when on October 12, 1492, he landed on the Bahamas. Columbus believed he reached his destination until his third trip through the Atlantics. He was the first European who established a Spanish colony in America.
Commemoration of this historical event began in the 18-th century. Originated by Tammany Hall (New York’s Columbian Order), the idea of celebrating the 300-th anniversary of Columbus’ landing was implemented in 1792.
Religious feature pursued the holiday since Christopher Columbus was a Spanish Catholic. It was Catholic fraternity, which lobbied the adoption of Columbus Day as a national holiday. Only in 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made it a whole-nation event.
In 1971, the celebration of Columbus Day was moved from October 12 to every second Monday in October.
Alternatives to Columbus Day
First opponents against celebrating Columbus Day emerged in the 19-th century, as the holiday was associated with the Catholic tradition.
Later, the groups of Native Americans rejected the celebration of the event that had caused so many deaths. It is a well-known fact that European immigrants brought severe diseases to the continent and started many wars against Native Americans. Both events took millions of lives.
Recently, several U.S. cities adopted the alternatives to Columbus Day. The celebrate the days of remembrance, like Berkeley’s Indigenous Peoples Day, South Dakota’s Native American Day and Hawaii’s Discoverer’s Day.
How do we celebrate Columbus Day?
Nowadays, the celebration of Columbus Day has developed into a festival of Italian-American legacy. You can attend various parades and street fairs; enjoy colorful costumes, traditional music, and Italian cuisine.
Those cities which chose to honor indigenous peoples at this day hold pow-wows and lessons about Native American culture.