Columbus Day commemorates 1492 landing of Columbus in the Americas

October 09, 2019 - 9:58 am

Christopher Columbus was a native of Genoa, Italy. Columbus set sail in August 1492, bound for Asia with backing from the Spanish monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. It wasn’t until his third journey that Columbus finally realized he hadn’t reached Asia but instead had stumbled upon a continent previously unknown to Europeans.

Columbus Day is a holiday that commemorates the 1492 landing of Columbus in the Americas. It was unofficially celebrated in a number of cities and states as early as the 18th century, but did not become a federal holiday until 1937 when President Roosevelt proclaimed Columbus Day a national holiday.

The first Columbus Day celebration took place in 1792, when New York’s Columbian Order, known as Tammany Hall, held an event to commemorate the historic landing’s 300th anniversary. Taking pride in Columbus’ birthplace and faith, Italian and Catholic communities in various parts of the country began organizing annual religious ceremonies and parades in his honor.

Columbus Day was originally observed every October 12, but was changed to the second Monday in October beginning in 1971. For many, the holiday is a way of both honoring Columbus’ achievements and celebrating Italian-American heritage.


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