Columbus Day is a 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.
Did Columbus Discover America?
The explorer Christopher Columbus made four trips across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain: in 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502. He was determined to find a direct water route west from Europe to Asia, but he never did. Instead, he accidentally stumbled upon the Americas. Though he did not really “discover” the New World–millions of people already lived there–his journeys marked the beginning of centuries of trans-Atlantic conquest and colonization.
During the 15th and 16th centuries, leaders of several European nations sponsored expeditions abroad in the hope that explorers would find great wealth and vast undiscovered lands. The Portuguese were the earliest participants in this “Age of Discovery.” Starting in about 1420, small Portuguese ships known as caravels zipped along the African coast, carrying spices, gold, slaves and other goods from Asia and Africa to Europe.