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In 1906 Colorado Was The First State To Celebrate Columbus Day (Video)

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Columbus Day is an United States observance held each year on the second Monday in October.  The day signifies Christopher Columbus’ arrival to America on October 12, 1492.

Colorado first observed Columbus Day in 1906 as it became an official state holiday. More and more people and states began to recognize Columbus Day.  In 1937, Columbus Day became a federal holiday in the United States.  There are many instances of people observing Columbus’ voyage since the colonial period.  In 1792, there were celebrations in New York City and other US cities, celebrating the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World.  President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to join together in celebration of Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event.  During the anniversary in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day rituals to teach ideals of patriotism.  These patriotic teachings were framed around themes of support for war, citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation and celebrating social progress.

In 1970,  Columbus Day was changed to the current observation on the second Monday in October

1. Columbus didn’t set out to prove the earth was round.
Forget those myths perpetuated by everyone from Washington Irving to Bugs Bunny. There was no need for Columbus to debunk the flat-earthers—the ancient Greeks had already done so. As early as the sixth century B.C., the Greek mathematician Pythagoras surmised the world was round, and two centuries later Aristotle backed him up with astronomical observations. By 1492 most educated people knew the planet was not shaped like a pancake.

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2. Nina and Pinta were not the actual names of two of Columbus’ three ships.
In 15th-century Spain, ships were traditionally named after saints. Salty sailors, however, bestowed less-than-sacred nicknames upon their vessels. Mariners dubbed one of the three ships on Columbus’s 1492 voyage the Pinta, Spanish for “the painted one” or “prostitute.” The Santa Clara, meanwhile, was nicknamed the Nina in honor of its owner, Juan Nino. Although the Santa Maria is called by its official name, its nickname was La Gallega, after the province of Galicia in which it was built.

3. The Santa Maria wrecked on Columbus’ historic voyage.
On Christmas Eve of 1492, a cabin boy ran Columbus’s flagship into a coral reef on the northern coast of Hispaniola, near present-day Cap Haitien, Haiti. Its crew spent a very un-merry Christmas salvaging the Santa Maria’s cargo. Columbus returned to Spain aboard the Nina, but he had to leave nearly 40 crewmembers behind to start the first European settlement in the Americas—La Navidad. When Columbus returned to the settlement in the fall of 1493, none of the crew were found alive.

4. Columbus returned to Spain in chains in 1500.
Columbus’s governance of Hispaniola could be brutal and tyrannical. Native islanders who didn’t collect enough gold could have their hands cut off, and rebel Spanish colonists were executed at the gallows. Colonists complained to the monarchy about mismanagement, and a royal commissioner dispatched to Hispaniola arrested Columbus in August 1500 and brought him back to Spain in chains. Although Columbus was stripped of his governorship, King Ferdinand not only granted the explorer his freedom but subsidized a fourth voyage.

5. A lunar eclipse may have saved Columbus.
In February 1504, a desperate Columbus was stranded in Jamaica, abandoned by half his crew and denied food by the islanders. The heavens that he relied on for navigation, however, would guide him safely once again. Knowing from his almanac that a lunar eclipse was coming on February 29, 1504, Columbus warned the islanders that his god was upset with their refusal of food and that the moon would “rise inflamed with wrath” as an expression of divine displeasure. On the appointed night, the eclipse darkened the moon and turned it red, and the terrified islanders offered provisions and beseeched Columbus to ask his god for mercy.

6. Heirs of Columbus and the Spanish monarchy were in litigation until 1790.
After the death of Columbus, his heirs waged a lengthy legal battle with the Spanish crown, claiming that the monarchy short-changed them on money and profits due the explorer. Most of the Columbian lawsuits were settled by 1536, but the legal proceedings nearly dragged on until the 300th anniversary of Columbus’ famous voyage. 

Sources:

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