Christopher Columbus Day

Christopher Columbus Day

Celebrations

Christopher Columbus Day is a public holiday celebrated on the second Monday in October in the United States, as well as in Latin America and Spain in commemoration of the date of Columbus’ arrival in the New World in 1492.

History :

The birth of the party

The first Columbus Day celebration was held in the city of San Francisco in 1869 by a predominantly Italian-American community. However, the first entire state to celebrate this holiday was Colorado in 1907. Thirty years later, Franklin D. Roosevelt established this day as a national holiday in the United States. However, it was not until President George W. Bush’s Proclamation of October 4, 2007, that Columbus Day was officially set for the second Monday in October each year.

Italian origins

Christopher Columbus was in the service of Spain, however he was of Italian descent. “Cristoforo Colombo” was born in 1451 on the territory of the Republic of Genoa. Italians were the first to celebrate Columbus Day when they immigrated to the United States. The Empire State Building is then adorned with the colors of the Italian flag (green, white and red).

The celebration :

In the USA : How the party unfolds

Columbus Day is a federal holiday in the United States. It has been organized since 1929 by the Columbus Citizens Foundation. Each state celebrates Columbus Day differently. This festival takes place in the form of parades in the American streets, there are several parades. A Columbus Day Parade is organized in several cities such as Denver. In New York, the Columbus Day Parade has been taking place since 1915 along the famous 5th Avenue at 44th Street and continues on the famous Big Apple Avenue to 86th Street. We thus find brass bands, floats, and various events and festivals in all the districts around the parade route. In Washington, in front of Union Station, an official ceremony takes place in front of the Christopher Columbus Memorial. The festivities begin just after the wreaths are laid at the foot of this monument2,3.

Rejection by some states

It is not a holiday in all states of the United States, such as Alaska, Nevada, Hawaii, and South Dakota. These states do not recognize Columbus Day and celebrate other events. This holiday is contested in the United States. Many people recall that behind the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus lie less glorious facts, such as colonization or the massacre of American Indians.

It is not a holiday in all states of the United States, such as Alaska, Nevada, Hawaii, and South Dakota. These states do not recognize Columbus Day and celebrate other events. This holiday is contested in the United States. Many people recall that behind the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus lie less glorious facts, such as colonization or the massacre of American Indians.

In Latin America and Spain

In Latin America

Christopher Columbus Day is more commonly referred to as “Race Day” (Día de la Raza) in Latin American countries such as Brazil, Guatemala, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua or the Dominican Republic. It usually takes place on October 12 and is considered anti-Columbus Day for many countries. It celebrates resistance to the arrival of Europeans in the New World and is also used to commemorate indigenous cultures. During this day, festivities are organized to fight against racism, to remember the cultures and traditions of the pre-Columbian peoples.

In Argentina
In Argentina the feast is called “Cultural Diversity Day” (Día de la Diversidad Cultural). It aims to be the birth of a new identity, resulting from the merger between the original peoples and the Spanish colonizers.

In Mexico
On September 24, 1892, the Mexican Congress declared October 12 a national holiday.

Since 1917 at the initiative of Venustiano Carranza it bears the name of Día de la Raza

President Emilio Portes Gil gave it the name of Día de la Raza y Aniversario del Descubrimiento de América in 1929.

This day is no longer an official holiday now, but it gives rise to many festivities.

In Spain
Spain is the only one to use the name “Hispanic Day” (Día de la Hispanidad) to celebrate this holiday. The term “Hispanicism” was defined at the end of the 19th century by intellectuals. It was formalized as a national holiday by Alfonso XIII in 1918 under the name “Festival of the Race” (Día de la Raza) in contradiction with progressive ideas. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1981, a royal decree published in the first Bull.

Leif Erikson

The first controversy raised by Columbus Day is the role of Viking Leif Erikson in the discovery of America. It was in fact he who left Greenland in 9865 to land on the American coast. With his companions, he discovers the greenery of the country and in particular its berries, similar to grapes. So they decide to call this country Vinland (Country of the Vine). Some archaeologists believe that the lands discovered by Leiv Eriksson and his crew are now Newfoundland, where the ruins of a Viking settlement were found in 1963. After his death, twenty years later, new ships docked and the Vikings explored and settled the east coast of North America, but failed to colonize it. This is the reason why the discovery of Leiv and his successors has long been ignored by the rest of the world. It was not until 1964 that President Lyndon B. Johnson officially recognized Leiv Eriksson as the first European to land in America.

Amerigo Vespucci

The second main controversy concerns the findings of Amerigo Vespucci. A Florentine navigator, he first claimed to have set foot on American soil using coordinates that actually turned out to be towards Honduras, in the Caribbean, in 1497 and 1498. His exploration then took him to Brazil, where he walked along the coast to Patagonia. He would therefore have touched the American mainland even before Christopher Columbus who undertook his exploration of Venezuela in 1498. It was not until 1503 that he really made mention of his discovery, which he called “Mundus Novus”: the New World. It was the German geographer Martin Waldseemüller, responsible for updating the maps of the world following the discovery of Vespucci, who, in 1507, would map the New World under the name “America”, in homage to Amerigo. In his atlas, Vespucci takes up the new maps as well as the account of his four voyages, without ever referring to those of Christopher Columbus7.

Oppositions noted

While the opposition of certain American states to celebrating Columbus Day is sometimes based on a discovery falsely attributed to the navigator, it is mainly due to the harmful consequences of these discoveries1. The main argument is the result of the colonizations that followed the explorations of Amerigo Vespucci and Christopher Columbus: massive massacre of indigenous populations already there and diseases brought by the colonists which created a violent pandemic among the different tribes populating the continent. The reasons raised to justify the massacres are also the subject of many controversies: an evangelization that the natives legitimately did not want to accept; dangerous savages refusing to become civilized according to European codes; a land full of wealth that the people did not want to share too much. The refusal of the Europeans to try to understand these tribes both in their way of thinking and of living thus resulted in resistance from the natives, which they could only get rid of through violence and death8. Without forgetting that the colonization of the Americas very quickly led to the slavery of the Amerindians and then to the African slave trade to meet the labor needs of the settlers9.

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