In 1492 Columbus Sailed The Ocean Blue …
But that’s where the relevancy stops for Columbus Day every year. At least for this blogger and content provider in Seattle, WA. You see, in my research I discovered the origin of this day was already steeped in controversy.
The first Columbus Day celebration took place in 1792, when New York’s Columbian Order—better known as Tammany Hall—held an event to commemorate the historic landing’s 300th anniversary when in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Taking pride in Columbus’ birthplace and faith, Italian and Catholic communities in various parts of the country began organizing annual religious ceremonies and parades in his honor.
In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation encouraging Americans to mark the 400th anniversary of his voyage – in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue – with patriotic festivities, writing, “On that day let the people, so far as possible, cease from toil and devote themselves to such exercises as may best express honor to the discoverer and their appreciation of the great achievements of the four completed centuries of American life.”
So at least it started to approach what was the intent of celebration – American life; not one man.
In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Columbus Day a national holiday, largely as a result of intense lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, an influential Catholic fraternal organization. Not exactly how to celebrate in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue! Anti-immigrant groups rejected the holiday because of it’s association with religion (Catholic) in the 19th century. In recent decades, Native Americans and other groups have protested the celebration of an event that resulted in the colonization of the Americas, the beginnings of the transatlantic slave trade and the deaths of millions from murder and disease – all because in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
Thankfully, many US states and cities have replaced Columbus Day such as Alaska, Hawaii, which were the last to join (?) but I found that Oregon and South Dakota are the only states of 48 contiguous to reject it. Along with the cities of Denver, Phoenix and Los Angeles it’s been replaced with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Columbus Day is celebrated on the 2nd Monday of October. In some parts of the United States, Columbus Day has evolved into a celebration of Italian-American heritage. Local groups host parades and street fairs featuring colorful costumes, music and Italian food. In places that use the day to honor indigenous peoples, activities include pow-wows, traditional dance events and lessons about Native American culture.
However you celebrate it (if at all), I’d be curious to know how you do! Comment below. Until then be good like you should and if you can’t be good, be good at what you do!
Mic drop *bOoM*