5 Things You Didn’t Know About Columbus Day
There are no costumes or presents today, but Columbus Day is still a holiday worth noting. Even though it has become controversial, Idaho might not be Idaho without it.
I asked my elementary girls what grade they were in when they learned about Christopher Columbus, and they said "kindergarten or 1st grade and it was kind of a big deal."
Most of us know that Columbus discovered America in 1492 because either we learned it in elementary school or saw it on Jeopardy, but sometimes the extent of our knowledge ends there.
Columbus Day is today (October 12th) and it's a good time to surprise ourselves with some facts about the federal holiday. There's no mail and most banks are closed, but there's more to it than that, according to the History Channel.
5 Things You Didn't Know About Columbus Day
The first Columbus Day celebration took place in 1792. New York’s Columbian Order held an event to mark Columbus' landing 300 years earlier. Italian and Catholic communities started organizing annual religious ceremonies and parades in his honor.
Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1937. It has become a way of both honoring Columbus’ achievements and celebrating Italian-American heritage.
Columbus might have known the world was round but didn't know that the Pacific Ocean existed. Columbus and his contemporaries assumed that only the Atlantic Ocean sat between Europe and the riches that drew them to the East Indies.
Columbus Day has become a source of controversy. The History Channel noted that as historians did some digging into his life, they discovered Columbus may have seen indigenous people as obstacles and didn't treat them well. That's why alternatives to the federal holiday have been proposed since the 1970s.
Columbus Day is not recognized everywhere. Several U.S. cities and states have replaced Columbus Day with alternative days of remembrance. Alaska, Hawaii, and Oregon call the day Indigenous Peoples' Day, and so do cities like Denver, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.
Last year, several groups gathered in Boise at the state capitol to honor Indigenous People's Day, and Governor Brad Little supported it with a proclamation.
Despite the controversy, we know that Columbus discovering America set things in motion for Idaho to eventually become a state. That happened in 1890 and now you and your family live here and we have The Greenbelt, Bogus Basin, good salmon, and plenty of great places for a mani-pedi, and who knows if things would have developed exactly the way they are without our discovery happening when it did.
Food for thought on your day off, if you have it.