The history of Columbus day starts in 1492, with the voyage of Christopher Columbus.
"In fourteen hundred ninety-two
How much do you remember about the history of Columbus Day? Many of us remember memorizing the 1492 poem and celebrating Columbus Day in grammar school, but that's about all we remember. I needed to brush up Columbus facts and thought I'd share some information that I learned.
Columbus Day is celebrated in America on the second Monday in October. In 2012, Columbus Day is on October 8th.
Columbus Day celebrates the day when the Europeans discovered America. Christopher Columbus set foot on San Salvador Island, also known as Waitling Island, in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492. Although Columbus was not the first person to "discover" America, he was credited with establishing the relationship between Europe and the Americas.
In August of 1492, Italian seaman Columbus set sail with a crew of 90 men and three ships. Christopher Columbus' ships were nicknamed the Santa Maria, the Nina and the Pinta.
Columbus left Iberia on that August day, hoping to sail to the Indies, a series of islands in South East Asia. He wanted to find a quicker, water based route to that area that Spain already traded with.
When Columbus set foot on the Bahamas, naming the island San Salvador, he mistakenly took the native people to be from the Indies, and called them Indians, rather than Native Americans as they are known today. There is a dispute over this - some believe that Columbus actually landed on other islands. One possibility is Samana Cay, an island 65 miles south of San Salvador.
Columbus never realized that he had not found the Indies. He made a total of four trips to the Americas, continuing to believe that he had found a quicker route to the Indies.
Columbus' arrival is celebrated throughout the Americas with a holiday. In America, it is known as Columbus Day. In Hawaii, it is also known as "Discoverer's Day", jointly celebrating Columbus' discovery and Captain James Cook, who charted the Hawaiian Islands.
In Canada, Columbus Day is celebrated in conjunction with Thanksgiving.
In most of Latin America, the Dia de la Raza ("Day of the Race") celebrates the first encounter between indigenous people and Europeans.
In 1792, the Society of St. Tammany, or Colombian Order in New York organized a celebration celebrating the 300th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's "discovery".
In 1866, the Italian population of New York organized a celebration of the discovery of America.
President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed a celebration in honor of the 400th anniversary of the voyage in 1892.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed October 12th as the official Columbus Day holiday in 1937.
In 1971, Congress moved the U.S. holiday from October 12 to the second Monday in October to afford workers a long holiday weekend.
Due to controversy surrounding Columbus' "discovery of the new world", many alternate celebrations are now held in place of Columbus Day. Some celebrate "Indigenous Peoples Day" (Berkeley, CA), "Native American Day" (South Dakota) and "Discoverer's Day" (Hawaii), in addition to others. Columbus Day has evolved into a celebration of Italian-Americans in many cities and areas.
In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
He had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.
He sailed by night; he sailed by day;
He used the stars to find his way.
A compass also helped him know
How to find the way to go.
Ninety sailors were on board;
Some men worked while others snored.
Then the workers went to sleep;
And others watched the ocean deep.
Day after day they looked for land;
They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand.
October 12 their dream came true,
You never saw a happier crew!
"Indians! Indians!" Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joyful pride.
But "India" the land was not;
It was the Bahamas, and it was hot.
The Arakawa natives were very nice;
They gave the sailors food and spice.
Columbus sailed on to find some gold
To bring back home, as he'd been told.
He made the trip again and again,
Trading gold to bring to Spain.
The first American? No, not quite.
But Columbus was brave, and he was bright.
Here is a short video that you might enjoy that will teach you a bit more about the history of Columbus Day and Christopher Columbus.
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