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Columbus Day

Date Pattern:

Second Monday in October

Columbus Day: Exploring the Controversy and History behind the Celebration

Columbus Day, celebrated on the second Monday of October, has long been a topic of controversy and debate. While some view it as a celebration of a historical figure’s achievements, others argue that it glorifies a man responsible for the suffering and colonization of indigenous peoples.

In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of Columbus Day, shedding light on its history, controversies, and the ongoing discussions surrounding its observance.

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer, is widely recognized as the person who first reached the Americas in 1492. While his journey marked a significant milestone in world history, it is essential to understand the different perspectives on his legacy.

Supporters of Columbus Day argue that he represents the spirit of exploration and discovery, while critics point out the violence and oppression inflicted upon Native American populations.

The Blue and White Sailor Shirt

One interesting aspect of Columbus’s legacy that often goes unnoticed is his association with the blue and white sailor shirt. As an explorer, Columbus navigated the vast oceans, and it was during his voyages that he adopted the striped shirt commonly worn by sailors.

This garment serves as a symbol of his seafaring adventures and has become an iconic representation of maritime lore.

The History and Observance of Columbus Day

History of Columbus Day

The observance of Columbus Day can be traced back to the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. The day commemorates this historical event and highlights the Italian-Spanish heritage of Columbus.

Over time, the celebration has evolved, encompassing various cultural aspects, including parades and festivals that showcase Italian and Hispanic traditions.

The First Celebration and the Rise of Columbus Day

The first recorded celebration of Columbus Day occurred in 1792 when New York’s Colombian Order organized an event to honor the explorer’s achievements. However, it was in the late 19th century, through the efforts of organizations like Tammany Hall, that Columbus Day started gaining prominence as an unofficial celebration.

Eventually, in 1937, it became a federal holiday under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who sought to honor Italian-Americans and their contributions to the nation.


In conclusion, the observance of Columbus Day has a complex historical background intertwined with controversy. While it continues to be celebrated in various parts of the United States, there is ongoing debate surrounding the significance and appropriateness of honoring Christopher Columbus.

By discussing the different perspectives and shedding light on the history behind the celebration, we hope to provide readers with a better understanding of this annual holiday.

The Controversial Landing and Explorations of Christopher Columbus

Landing Location and the Belief of Reaching Asia

One of the most significant controversies surrounding Christopher Columbus is his landing location in the Americas and the belief that he had reached Asia. When Columbus arrived in 1492, he believed he had reached the Indies, referring to the islands of Southeast Asia.

However, he had, in reality, landed in the Bahamas and later explored Central and South America. The misconception persisted for some time, leading to the misnaming of Native Americans as “Indians” and contributing to the ongoing debate about Columbus’s navigational achievements.

Controversies and Other Explorers

The voyages of Christopher Columbus were not the first European explorations of the Americas. Norse explorer Leif Erikson is believed to have reached North America around 1,000 AD, almost 500 years before Columbus’s journey.

The controversies surrounding Columbus also extend to his treatment of indigenous peoples. He and his crew engaged in the enslavement and mistreatment of the native populations, with devastating consequences.

The actions and behaviors of Columbus and his crew have sparked intense criticism and condemnation from modern observers.

Columbus Day Celebrations and Historical Reflections

School Education and the Day of the Race

In Latin America, the observance of Columbus Day takes on different names and meanings. In several countries, this holiday is known as the Day of the Race, Día de la Raza, or Día de la Hispanidad.

In schools across Latin America, this day is marked with educational activities and discussions about the intricate history and cultural interactions that unfolded after Columbus’s arrival. Some countries celebrate the diversity and heritage of Latin American peoples, emphasizing the fusion of indigenous, European, and African influences.

Celebratory Traditions and Differing Opinions on Columbus

While Columbus Day remains a controversial holiday, celebrations vary widely in different regions. Some communities use the day to commemorate Italian and Hispanic heritage, organizing parades, concerts, and fiestas.

However, as the understanding of Columbus’s impact evolves, there has been a push to shift the focus towards a more critical and reflective approach. Some cities and organizations have chosen to rebrand the holiday as Indigenous Peoples’ Day or focus on broader themes, such as multiculturalism and unity.

The reflection on Columbus and his legacy continues to spark debates about the importance of historical accuracy, acknowledging the truth of indigenous experiences, and engaging in critical discourse. Many argue that Columbus Day should serve as an opportunity to learn from the past and challenge the narratives that have shaped our understanding of history.


In conclusion, the controversies surrounding Christopher Columbus and the observance of Columbus Day encompass various topics, including his landing location, treatment of indigenous peoples, and the celebration’s historical reflections. The discussions around Columbus’s legacy continue to evolve as society grapples with the complexities and consequences of the past.

By exploring these topics in depth, we hope to foster a better understanding of the ongoing debates and encourage readers to engage in critical reflection and respectful dialogue.

Celebrating Columbus Day and Understanding its Significance

How to Celebrate Columbus Day and Learning about Columbus

Columbus Day provides an opportunity to celebrate the historical significance of Christopher Columbus and engage in activities that promote understanding and education. Here are some ways to celebrate Columbus Day:

  1. Attend Cultural Events: Many cities organize parades, exhibitions, and cultural events to commemorate Columbus Day. These events often showcase diverse traditions, including Italian, Hispanic, and indigenous cultures.
  2. Visit Museums and Exhibitions: Local museums often host special exhibitions about Columbus’s voyages and their impact. These exhibits offer a chance to learn about historical artifacts, navigate interactive displays, and engage in guided tours that shed light on the complexities of Columbus’s exploration.
  3. Participate in Educational Programs: Schools and community organizations often organize educational programs on Columbus Day. These programs can include lectures, seminars, and workshops that explore the historical context, controversies, and different perspectives related to Columbus and the era of exploration. Participating in these programs can foster critical thinking and broaden understanding.
  4. Read and Discuss Columbus’s Journals: Christopher Columbus kept detailed journals throughout his voyages, which provide insights into his experiences and perspectives. Reading his writings can help gain a deeper understanding of his motivations, beliefs, and interactions with the indigenous people he encountered. Having discussions with peers or participating in book clubs centered around Columbus’s journals can provide valuable opportunities for exchanging ideas and learning from different viewpoints.

Familiarity with Columbus’s Legacy and Understanding the Significance of the Day

While celebrating Columbus Day can involve engaging in various activities, it is crucial to cultivate a familiarity with Columbus’s legacy and understand the significance of the day. Here are some points to consider:

  1. Historical Accuracy: As our understanding of history evolves, it is essential to ensure that the narratives surrounding Columbus are based on accurate and diverse sources. Educators and historians play a crucial role in presenting a balanced view of Columbus’s impact, exploring both his achievements and the consequences of his actions.
  2. Acknowledging Indigenous Perspectives: Columbus’s arrival brought enormous changes to the indigenous peoples of the Americas. To truly understand the significance of Columbus Day, it is vital to acknowledge and amplify indigenous perspectives. Recognizing the resilience, cultural contributions, and ongoing struggles of indigenous communities can help foster empathy, respect, and a broader perspective on history.
  3. Reflecting on Global Influence: Columbus’s voyages had far-reaching consequences beyond the Americas. The exchange of goods, ideas, and diseases transformed the world’s cultural, economic, and social landscapes. Understanding the global impact of Columbus’s exploration can provide a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of human history.
  4. Engaging in Dialogues: Columbus Day provides an opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions about history, identity, and the impact of colonialism. Through open and respectful dialogue, individuals can challenge preconceived notions, broaden their perspectives, and foster a greater appreciation for diverse cultures and identities.


In conclusion, celebrating Columbus Day goes beyond mere recognition of the explorer’s achievements. By actively engaging in activities and discussions that foster understanding and education, individuals can develop a deeper appreciation for history, multiculturalism, and the complexities of Columbus’s legacy. By embracing diverse perspectives and reflecting on the significance of the day, we can collectively work towards a more inclusive and informed society.

In conclusion, the celebration of Columbus Day remains a controversial and complex topic. As we explore the legacy of Christopher Columbus, it is crucial to acknowledge the diverse perspectives and historical contexts surrounding his actions.

Engaging in educational activities, attending cultural events, and reflecting on the significance of the day can contribute to a deeper understanding of history and foster empathy towards the indigenous communities impacted by colonization. By critically examining the past, we can strive to build a more inclusive future that celebrates multiculturalism and encourages respectful dialogue.

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