Is Columbus Day Here to Stay?

Ridolfo_Ghirlandaio_ColumbusToday we celebrate in the United States Columbus Day, remembering the day that the Italian explorer (someone who looks for “new” or undiscovered places) Christopher Columbus first “discovered” the Americas. Of course, when we say “discover,” we mean for the Europeans, since there were already millions of people living here before Columbus’s ships arrived. Although today is an official government holiday in many places, the celebration of this day has changed significantly over the past 50 years or so.

Columbus Day was created as a federal (national) holiday back in 1968, when the United States Congress passed (approved) something called the Monday Holiday Law, which established (started) Columbus Day on the second Monday of October.  (The traditional date of Columbus Day is October 12th, which this year also falls on (is on the day of) the second Monday in October.)  The same law also moved three other federal holidays — Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and Washington’s Birthday — to a Monday. Americans decided that they wanted to have a three-day weekend (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday) more than they wanted to celebrate these holidays on the actual day of the event they commemorated (remembered, honored).

Columbus Day has been celebrated in some places for many years. New York City has had a Columbus Day parade since 1929, and will have one again this year. But in many places, the celebration of Columbus Day has been changed or eliminated, for a variety of reasons. In South Dakota, a state in the Midwest next to Minnesota, today is celebrated as Native American Day, to honor all of the Native Americans (American Indians) who were living here before the Europeans arrived. Although today is a federal holiday, where workers in many national government offices do not have to work, about half of the state governments do not give their employees today off. Here in California, Governor Schwarzenegger is eliminating Columbus Day due to budget (financial) problems that the state has, although today most city offices are closed in Los Angeles.

In some places, they have started “holiday swapping.” To swap means to change or exchange one thing for another. A city here in California, for example, voted to swap two holidays — Columbus Day and Cesar Chavez Day (a holiday here in California honoring the famous Mexican American union organizer) — for New Year’s Eve and one “floating” holiday. This means that city employees will now be able to take December 31 off as a holiday (it is not typically a holiday in the United States – only New Year’s Day is). A floating holiday is a holiday that individual employees, companies, or governments can decide when they want to take — basically, it’s another day off of work, but not in connection to any particular holiday.

Italian Americans are not too happy about these changes in the way people celebrate Columbus Day, since Columbus was Italian and they believe his accomplishments should be honored (remembered).  But even the largest city in the US named after (in the memory of) the famous explorer, Columbus, Ohio, no longer has a Columbus Day celebration parade.   If they don’t celebrate Columbus Day in Columbus, things don’t look good for the future of the holiday.


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21 Responses to Is Columbus Day Here to Stay?

  1. magda says:

    Today here in Brazil is Children Day. It is a holyday, and I bought toys and candies to give for my nephews …

  2. Peter says:

    Dear jeff
    Hope you had a fun off day today . Here , today was a total downer, quite dead . I spent the whole day at a coffe house studying English. The truth of the matter is, learning English is the the only good thing going on my life .I have not read your posting through yet. From the looks of it , it has a lot to offer. I should make time 1 hour or two to scan the whole thing.
    Thanks man
    Indeed , you r a prof without peer . I really enjoy the EslPod. The more I study the progaram the more I pick up on stuff that I missed before .
    Indeed , you and Lucy know the English language from A to Z

    Again, thanks plenty for providing us with this luxury that Eslpod is way more than what I had brgained for

    I started reviewing learning guide from the top and, Truely,the learning guide is cheap at the price( worth way more than the allocated initial or monthly fee)

    I belive that I have learned from the learning guide twice as much

  3. Peter says:

    Very lame and lousy comment , on my part. Sorry palls . I am too wound up to think straight

  4. As Magda said here in Brazil is Children Day. I suppose this day is commemorate in another date on other countries. Isn’t it ?

  5. Julio says:

    In Spain we had yesterday both a long weekend (a very necessary rest) and the national day to commemorate when long ago a Spain’s fleet led by Christopher Columbus discovered a new continent, which was afterward colonised by Spaniards.
    This year the weather has been so fine that it still seems summer time. I hope it can last a little longer.
    Best regards from Spain,
    Julio (Jack).

  6. Vlad says:

    Adding some information about what Magda said, also in Brazil, today (actually yesterday) was Lady`s Aparecida Day, a catholic commemorative day. I think that holidays should not conflict. Maybe, in Brazil`s case, the Children`s day could be floated to one day after.

  7. emiliano says:

    When I was a child I was taught that on 12th of October of 1492 a sailor called “Rodrigo de Triana, from the Santa Maria´s Nave “, shouted EARTH….and that´s was the first time that the three naves commanded by Colom see America´s land.

    Since a long time ago, we spaniards celebrate 12th October like “Hispanish and Iberoamerica´s Day”, and doesn´t matter Colon was born which ever land recall him as his country.
    The naves were from Spain, the men on the ships were spanish, and the money comes from The Catholic Queen of Castilla Isabel´s Treasure.

    Soon or later America has to be seen by europeans, but were spanish the first who saw it.
    That´s the truth, for bad or for good.

    I can´t say if I am proud or not about the even, but I like to say what is History.

  8. Tania says:

    Hi ! Inded , in Roumania the first of June is the Children Day .

    All the best for you all and for your children ,


  9. emiliano says:

    Yes, Colon was born in Genova as he was called “El Genoves” by people of those times, but when Colon was born Italy doesn´t exist yet as a nation, it have to past hundred of years to be so and even it is possible (I don´t know) that Genova was an independent city or belongs to another country as France, that it was a nation in Europe like England or Castilla.
    So I don´t understand clearly what it´s the matter with Columbus day and Italians going to celebrate 12th October as his/their day.
    Above I said already that´s the day when a sailor from the spanish naves saw land first time after a long travel by the sea.
    They wanted to go to The India, because Colon said that the earth was round not flat, and they didn´t know they were in other very different lands that afterwar were called America.
    People from America were called “indios” because Colon and his sailors thought they were in India.
    The only Queen that belived what Colon said was Isabel of Castilla, and she put the money to support the naves and the long travel to the unknown.
    All what Columbus may did, good or bad, along his life related with America was joined with the Kings of Castilla, and I´m very sorry for italians who want to be proud about him and the fact he was born in Genova, but real history is so.

    The Greco was born also in Greek, but he is a famous spanish painter despite the place he was born.
    More or less like Picaso, he wan born in Malaga (Spain) but french think with reason that he is a french painter because he did
    his work in Paris.
    Or Handel, he was born in Germany, but english people think with reason too he is english because his majority musical and famous work was made in London, and in English language.
    In fact Handel is of the few people that has his tomb in Westminster Abbey.

    Please, don´t be so proud with Colon as an italian citizen, and 12th October his day, I don´t care too much but sometimes I am a little fed up with this story about Columbus.

  10. emiliano says:

    Rodrigo de Triana (born 1469 in Seville, Spain) was a Marrano sailor and the first European since the Vikings known to have seen America. Born as Juan Rodrigo Bermejo, Triana was the son of hidalgo and potter Vicente Bermejo and Sereni Betancour. His father may have been murdered during the Spanish Inquisition because of his Jewish heritage.[citation needed]
    On October 12, 1492, while on Christopher Columbus’s ship La Pinta, he sighted land of the Americas.[1]
    After spotting America at approximately two o’clock in the morning, he is reported to have shouted “¡Tierra! ¡Tierra!” (land! land!)[2] Columbus claims in his journal that he saw “light” at 10 p.m. the previous day, “but it was so indistinct that he did not dare to affirm it was land”.[1]
    Triana went without reward and credit for this find. According to Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, he moved to Africa and converted to Islam following his unrewarded discovery.
    This note is from Wikipedia, and it´s clear enough to know what happened more or less on October 12.
    Now I know this sailor was from jewish heritage and that he didn´t received his reward being Columbus who claims the merit and had the reward instead.
    I don´t like this either.
    From Wikipedia also, about Columbus and Genoa….Genova.

    Christopher Columbus, a native of Genoa, donated one-tenth of his income from the discovery of the Americas for Spain to the Bank of Saint George in Genoa for the relief of taxation on foods. The Spanish connection was reinforced by Andrea Doria, who established a new constitution in 1528, making Genoa a satellite of the Spanish Empire. Under the ensuing economic recovery, many aristocratic Genoese families, such as the Balbi, Doria, Grimaldi, Pallavicini, and Serra, amassed tremendous fortunes. At the time of Genoa’s peak in the 16th century, the city attracted many artists, including Rubens, Caravaggio and Van Dyck. The famed architect Galeazzo Alessi (1512–1572) designed many of the city’s splendid palazzi, as did in the decades that followed by fifty years Bartolomeo Bianco (1590-1657), designer of centerpieces of University of Genoa. A number of Genoese Baroque and Rococo artists settled elsewhere and a number of local artists became prominent. The plague killed as much as half of the inhabitants of Genoa in 1656–57.[5]

    In May 1684, as a punishment for Genoese support for Spain, the city was subjected to a French naval bombardment, with some 13,000 cannonballs aimed at the city.[6] It was occupied by Austria in 1746 during the War of the Austrian Succession. In 1768, Genoa was forced to also cede Corsica to France.


    Well, that´s all, every thing in it´s place I think.
    I like history just a lot. emiliano

  11. emiliano says:

    Jeff in your last paragraph you said “Italians Americans” are not too happy about…………and so on.

    But, is there a land in America where the Italian is spoken?.
    Italy has nothing to do with the discovery of the land, only Spain, Portugal, England and France has very much to do with it.
    Why the lands were called America?…..because a sailor Americo Vespucio said amending Colon….these lands are not The Indias, they are other different lands…..and called the continent America, of course his name, but the inhabitants continued being called as Indians. Funny.

    Europeans like Germans, Italians, poles, etc. have gone too long after the discovery to North America, so please …..

    Who are not happy with the History manipulation are the Spaniards or Potugueses, like me for instance. And it has been done along so many years by who?.

    The emerging empire of those last centuries…….England, of course.

    Now, in the blog….thank you Jeff thank you Lucy, I have the opportunity of saying it, and indeed it is a pleasure to me.

  12. Julio says:

    Undoubtedly, it is a sad manipulation, because when someone tells the history of, e.g., the statue of the Liberty, France’s people involvement is always pointed out, but curiously enough it is not the same when is told the history of the city of Los Angeles, or Texas, Or La Florida, or Nevada, or Nuevo Méjico, o el Cañón del Colorado or so many things that around two thirds of America are related, isn’t it?
    I Think as my fellow Emiliano it is a very unfair situation with Spain, but it is a question of point of views.
    Best regards from Spain,
    Julio (Jack).

  13. francesco says:

    I didn’t know that the 12th of october was the Columbus day and that it was celebrated and honored… However when I heard about this special event in the italian news, they didn’t mentioned that in some american cities this celebration will no longer be celebrated anymore! So, as I thought, italian journalists suffer from lack of knowledge and ability to describe real facts! So enjoy the party until it will expire someday! We hope no!
    Thanks jeff and lucy.

  14. Akira says:

    Hi Jeff,

    October 12 is also a holiday in Japan.
    It’s “Sports Day”.

    The opening ceremony of the first Olympic in Tokyo was held on October 10, 1964. So the day (October 10) became a holiday to celebrate it.
    And also, like U.S., here in Japan, “Happy Monday Law” was in effect few years ago and the day moved from October 10 to the second Monday of October.

    I enjoyed the holiday very much!!
    How was your holiday??

  15. YVONNE says:

    I’m very suprised that “New Year’s Eve” is not a federal holiday in the United State.We view New Year’s Eve as a day to get together with our family. Everyone has to be at home and have a dinner together. Since most of people work far away from their hometown. It takes quite a long time to get back home(half a day maybe, don’t mention there’s always big big traffic jam at the time). Therefore,New Year’s Eve is definately a federal holiday here in taiwan.Moreover, We have about usually 9 days vocation(consistantly) to celebrate New Year. Though, it’s usually boring and have nothing to do unless you plan to spend big money to some crowded sightseeing spot. I would considering it as a “boost tourist industry day”,however.

  16. Tania says:

    Hi ! I have a calendar with all federal (national) holidays in USA . They seem to be quite a lot . Are all days off of work ?
    I know nothing about federal holidays and their significance .
    A good idea to present them to us . For instance , I forgot completely that C. Columbus is an Italian .

    Very good your short historical work , Emiliano . It is good to renew our memory .

    All the best for you all ,


  17. emiliano says:

    Tania, have you seen the spanish holiday calendar?…..

    Take a look at it, sure you´ll be going here immediately.
    Thank you, but I have my Cuca who inform me about all historical questions always.
    I ask her aloud, from one room to the other and she reply me the same way…….the neighbors should think we are crazy.

    Cuca told me that it is not sure that Columbus was born in Genoa, but possibly yes, as Genoa was a powerful sailor´s city by the XV century. The City of Genoa was always in war with others powerful merchant cities like Venice, Pisa, or Milano.

    Italy did not exit on the XV century and by this reason the cities that now is Italy were so beautiful and have so many art. They were always doing the best to be the most powerful a richest of the moment, and always quarreling among them.

    By this reason to say Columbus was italian is a little mistake, as Italy as a nation began in XIX century with Garibaldi. Genoa was like a state itself, with lands, islands surrounding the city. The same as Milano, Venice, Florence and so on.

    May be the Italy we know now is unique just for this reason. All kind of artist, poets, painters went to those cities along hundred of years and did the most artistic country of the world, I think.


  18. Roberto says:

    Emiliano, you are formally right about the facts happened in Italy, however, although Italy was composed by several small states, we all shared common origins, religion, language, traditions and so forth. We recognized our italianity much before the unification in the XIX country and with the aim of unifying our nation (and to kick out several foreign barbarian invaders) many Italians heroically fought and died. (…. and now we have the fantastic king Silvio B3rlu5con1. Garibaldi is probably regretting it now).
    Some can assert that Columbus was not Italian because in the XV century Genova (Genoa) was an independent republic but not for this his Italian origins are not under discussion.

    Roberto, Toscana, Italia

    P.S. I love Spain. I have been there a few times in the past and I will visit it again but… don’t touch Colombo (Columbus) 😉

  19. emiliano says:

    Yes, of course, Roberto I agree with you in all what you said. Also I know that some feelings is better not to touch because if too many people feels happy with the origins of Colobo, that´s right, and is the same with Marco Polo, Bruneleschi, Miguel Angelo, or Leonardo all can be considered as Italians despite Italy doesn´t exists over those times, as you know perfectly well.
    And what to say about musicians, Vivaldi, Albinoni, Monteverdi, etc. or cientifics like Galileo and so on, and the great Maco Polo.
    Before Italy was the nations it´s now, lot of well known great persons were born those lands. So, Roberto, you may be very proud
    about your own people and the origins of so many historical and very important people.

    What it happens about this matter of Colombo?, well that nobody remember the fact that he was onboard of Spanishships, and
    that it was a spaniard the first sailor who shout “Land”, nothing more.
    For good or for bad, only spanish sailors where onboard of the three Carabelas commanded by Colombo and the Pinzon brothers, this is always forgotten too, and that´s the point.S So many people forget (specially english) these events and I wanted to remark them in my post.
    It was Spain the nation (yes, we were a nation in that time) who discover America, as I said before, and it was good? bad?, for the people who were living those lands it was for bad, that´s for sure.
    “The indians” as Colombo thaught he was in India, not in a new unknown Land.

    Thank you Roberto, I love Italy too as we are very similar really and we share lots of things, even a King. The Borbon Carlos III of Spain was before King of Napoles. He was a good king for Napoles and did lot of things in this beautiful city and their surrounds, I saw it once I was visiting the city, the same as in Madrid afterward when he was here as the best king of Spain for many historicizes.

    What a pleasure to talk with you Roberto about these things that are so much interesting, I think.
    Best regards, emiliano

  20. Roberto says:

    Hello Emiliano, You really know Italian history and people very well. You are really impressive.
    Yes, like you said, Italy and Spain are very similar (even our language is quite similar) It’s a pleasure for me to have the occasion to exchange my thoughts with you.
    Have a great Sunday!

  21. viet says:

    Dear Jef,

    Hello,my name is Viet from Vietnam but right now i am living in Australia for stydying and working. There is a long long time i was looking for a good teaching English website and finally i found your.As i know your program have been broadcast for some years ago so there are quite many lessons from it.I really love your English Cafe and your lovely,sweet voice(dont worry i am not a gay at all). As a result, i spent all my night to hear your podcads and in three months i nearly finish all your English Cafe. I dont know why but i have leaned many good lessons from your program.

    Jef, i wonder why dont you make a podcad about the life of “King of Rock”, i am not sure if you have any new podcad about this topic recently, as you know i have listen from English cafe 1st to 85th. By the way, can you suggest us(i mean all the listener) some others website that can help us about the pronunciation. I have many difficulties in speaking English. I maked make so many mistakes to read and talking to Aussies. The websites that teachs us about the rules when talking or reading are really helpful ,for example, when we say “rule” this word is seperating 2 parts “Ru” and “al”.

    I am really sorry about my English, i do hope it will be better in some months later by you help. Please help me when you read this email. I hope you have a free time to correct my email on a podcad also(Grin). I wish the best to you and your collegues.

    Thanks and Best Regards

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