5 Facts About Columbus Day

We all learned in school that “in fourteen hundred ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” We were taught that Italian-born Christopher Columbus set sail in search of a western sea route to Asia and landed in the Americas on October 12, 1942. He first landed in the Bahamas then saw Cuba, which he thought was China, before locating what he believed to be Japan, which was really Hispaniola. On his third expedition to the area, Columbus realized he had discovered a brand new continent.

Nina, Pinta And Santa Maria

Through the centuries, the celebration of Columbus Day has evolved. Originally acknowledged each Oct. 12, it now celebrated on the second Monday of October. Here are some facts about this famous explorer and the holiday named after him that you may not have learned in school:

1. Since Christopher Columbus was born in Italy, Italian-Americans consider Columbus Day a celebration of their heritage. Communities in some parts of the U.S. host parades and other festivities in honor of this day in history.

2. Alaska, Vermont, Hawaii and South Dakota don’t observer Columbus Day. Instead, Alaska and Vermont celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day while South Dakota observes Native American Day and Hawaii celebrates Discoverers’ Day.

3. This week will mark 80 years since the first federal observance of Columbus Day, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt on October 12 1937.

4. In 1905, Colorado was the first state to officially recognize Columbus Day as a state holiday.

5. He was not the first European to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. Some 500 years earlier, Norse Viking Leif Eriksson is believed to have landed in present-day Newfoundland, around A.D. 1000. Some historians believe that Ireland’s Saint Bernard or other Celtic people crossed the Atlantic even before Eriksson.


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