Why do we celebrate Columbus Day? Glad you asked.
According to TimeAndDate.com, Columbus Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October and remembers Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the Americas on Oct. 12, 1492. You can read more about this history under the “About Columbus Day” subhead below.
There’s a little controversy and disagreement about the holiday. The controversy stems from whole notion of Columbus “discovering” America, which critics say isn’t true because Native Americans were here long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Last year, the Seattle City Council voted to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous People’s Day to honor the culture, heritage, and contribution of Native Americans, and several states have similarly renamed the holiday.
Disagreement comes from whether to take the day off — and that’s oddly split. It is a federal government holiday, and it’s observed as a national holiday in 33 of the 50 states. (All except AK, AR, CA, DE, FL, HI, MI, MN, ND, NV, OR, SD, TX, VT, WA, WI, WY, according to timeanddate.com.)
What’s Closed, What’s Open?
Some of the big banking institutions (Chase, Wells Fargo, others) are working on Columbus Day 2017. And a long list of banks are closed.
It’s weird, really. It’s a holiday for the Federal Reserve Bank, but not the New York Stock Exchange.
Most public schools in Illinois take the day off, and that’s true of public high schools and elementary schools in Kane County. But at the same time, the Elgin Community College and Waubonsee Community College campuses are open on Columbus Day. (So much for that long weekend vacation if you’ve got one kid in high school and the other in community college.)
As far as what’s open and what’s closed locally, your best bet is to check your websites first. It looks like a lot of public libraries and park districts in the county are open — but that’s just from a quick Internet search.
Kane County Connects’ daily newsletter will take the day off Monday, Oct. 9, 2017. Happy Columbus Day, Indigenous People’s Day or any other day you’d like to celebrate!
About Columbus Day
Christopher Columbus is often portrayed as the first European to sail to the Americas. He is sometimes portrayed as the discoverer of the New World. However, this is controversial on many counts. There is evidence that the first Europeans to sail across the Atlantic were Viking explorers from Scandinavia. In addition, the land was already populated by indigenous peoples, who had “discovered” the Americas thousands of years before.
Columbus Day originated as a celebration of Italian-American heritage and was first held in San Francisco in 1869. The first state-wide celebration was held in Colorado in 1907. In 1937, Columbus Day become a holiday across the United States.
Since 1971, it has been celebrated on the second Monday in October. The date on which Columbus arrived in the Americas is also celebrated as the DÃa de la Raza (Day of the Race) in Latin America and some Latino communities in the USA. However, it is a controversial holiday in some countries and has been re-named in others.
Columbus Day celebrations are controversial because the settlement of Europeans in the Americas led to the deaths of a very large proportion of the native people. It has been argued that this was a direct result of Columbus’ actions. It is clear that the arrival of the European settlers led to the demise of a large proportion of the history and culture of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
It has also been argued that Columbus should not be honored for discovering North America, as he only went as far as some islands in the Caribbean and never got as far as mainland America.