Columbus Day is celebrated as a National holiday in many countries of America. It marks the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in America on the date of October 12, 1492. Christopher Columbus being an Italian explorer and colonizer on behalf of Spain, set sail across the whole Atlantic Ocean searching for a faster route to the Far East only to reach the New World. He did his first-ever voyage to the New World on one of the Spanish ships Santa María, Niña, and La Pinta which took him around three months. When Columbus and his crew arrived at the New World, it initiated the Columbian Exchange which followed with the transfer of plants, animals, culture, human populations, and technology between the New World and the Old World.
Columbus Day – Date, History, Importance & Celebration
The landing of Columbus and his crew is celebrated as Columbus Day on October 12 every year in the United States. While in some Latin American countries, this day is also known as Día de la Raza (Day of Race). In Mexico, it is celebrated as Day of Iberoamerican Race which is inspired by Jose Vasconcelos’s book. Around Spain, it is referred to as Día de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional de España where it is also referred to as the religious festivity of la Virgen del Pilar.
It is believed that in March 1493, Columbus came back to Spain in triumph, bearing gold, species, and Indian captives. He died in the year 1506 after crossing the Atlantic several times. It was in his third journey he realized that he wasn’t reaching Asia, instead he was stuck at some unknown European Continent.
The very first Columbus Day was celebrated in America in 1792. It was when the New York’s Columbian Order- also known as the Tammany Hall- organized an event to restore and honor the historic landing’s 300th anniversary.
However, there are various theories against the celebration of this day. One of them dates back to the 19th century, where an anti-immigrant group in the United States rejected the idea of this day as a holiday because of its link with Catholicism.
It is interesting to know that Columbus Day was originally observed and celebrated every year on October 12, but it was changed to the second Monday in October in 1971.
In some states and parts of the US, this day has evolved into a mass celebration of Italian-American Heritage. Local people form groups and host parades and street fairs with colorful different costumes, music, and food where they also perform traditional dances.