Columbus Day on the second Monday in October is observed in the United States each year. The day signifies Christopher Columbus’ arrival to America on October 12, 1492.
Christopher Columbus was long given credit for discovering North America. However, long before Columbus was born (1451-1506), Leif Erikson landed on these shores. The Italian-born explorer did sail across the Atlantic, though, and more than once. In fact, he made four transatlantic voyages. His first was in 1492. Hence the rhyme, “In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”
- During the 1492 expedition, Columbus was looking for Asia. He and his crew landed their three ships somewhere near the modern-day Bahamas. While he may not have discovered an already populated continent, he did spur further exploration and colonization of North America.
- Colorado first observed Columbus Day in 1906 as it became an official state holiday. More and more people and states began to recognize the observance.
- In 1937, Columbus Day became a federal holiday in the United States. Many instances of people observing Columbus’ voyage exist since the colonial period.
- In 1792, celebrations recognizing the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World took place in New York City and other US cities.
- President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to join in the celebration of Columbus on the 400th anniversary of the event. During the anniversary in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets, and politicians used the day to teach ideals of patriotism.
- In 1934, President Roosevelt made Columbus Day a national holiday. It became effective in 1937.
- Columbus Day was declared a federal public holiday on the second Monday in October by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968.
- One of Columbus’ ships, the Santa Maria, wrecked on the coast of the Americas and did not make the return voyage.
- The day is called Dia de la Hispanidad or Fiesta National in Spain.
- 22 states have chosen not to recognize Columbus Day has a holiday. These states include Hawaii, South Dakota, and Alaska. South Dakota celebrates Native American Day and Hawaii celebrates Discoverers’ Day instead.
- There are no portraits of Christopher Columbus that are known to exist, therefore nobody is quite sure what he looked like.
- Christopher Columbus has been reburied in many different places around the world.
- Pinta means “the painted one,” in Spanish. The Pinta ship was given its name by the sailors.