5 Things to Know About Columbus Day

Here are five things you may not have known about Columbus Day

Written by Kevin Haslam.

Monday is Columbus Day and everyone knows that most government offices, including the post office, do no operate in celebration of America's discovery by the historic icon. However, there are some other interesting facts you may not have known about the holiday. Here is our weekly 5 Things, covering today's holiday:

1. Columbus Day was first only a state holiday in Colorado, which was made official in 1906. However, it did not become federally recognized until 1937.

2. Three states do not recognize the holiday at all: Hawaii, Alaska and South Dakota. Hawaii, instead celebrates Discoverers' Day, which celebrates the Polynesian finding of Hawaii.

3. It is not a paid government holiday any longer in California and Texas.

4. Studies at UCLA indicated Columbus did a lot more harm than good. Geoffrey Symcox, the general editor of the project, asserted: "While giving the brilliant mariner his due, the collection portrays Columbus as an unrelenting social climber and self-promoter who stopped at nothing— not even exploitation, slavery, or twisting Biblical scripture— to advance his ambitions… Many of the unflattering documents have been known for the last century or more, but nobody paid much attention to them until recently… The fact that Columbus brought slavery, enormous exploitation or devastating diseases to the Americas used to be seen as a minor detail - if it was recognized at all - in light of his role as the great bringer of white man's civilization to the benighted idolatrous American continent. But to historians today this information is very important. It changes our whole view of the enterprise."

5. Wikipedia states: In the summer of 1990, 350 representatives from Indian groups from all over the hemisphere, met in Quito, Ecuador, at the first Intercontinental Gathering of Indigenous People in the Americas, to mobilize against the quincentennial celebration of Columbus Day. The following summer, in Davis, California, more than a hundred Native Americans gathered for a follow-up meeting to the Quito conference. They declared October 12, 1992, "International Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People." The largest ecumenical body in the United States, the National Council of Churches, called on Christians to refrain from celebrating the Columbus quincentennial, saying, "What represented newness of freedom, hope, and opportunity for some was the occasion for oppression, degradation and genocide for others."


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