Columbus Day in the United States Date in the current year: October 14, 2024

Columbus Day in the United States Columbus Day is one of the federal holidays in the United States. It is observed on the second Monday in October. Columbus Day celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s first arrival to the Americas in 1492.

Christopher Columbus’s first voyage, during which he was supposed to find a new route to the Far East, began on August 3, 1492. On October 12, his expedition reached the archipelago which is now known as the Bahamas. Exactly on which island Columbus and his people landed is still unclear. Many historians agree that it was San Salvador Island, but some researchers claim that Columbus and his people landed on the now uninhabited island of Samana Cay.

Be that as it may, Columbus’s landing paved the way for European colonization of the Americas. The first documented celebration of its anniversary was held 300 years after the historic landing in New York. However, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that it was recognized as legal holiday. The first state to officially observe Columbus Day was Colorado in 1907.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued a proclamation designating October 12 as Columbus Day in 1934, but this proclamation didn’t make it a federal holiday. Columbus Day was officially recognized as a federal holiday by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968, but this decision didn’t come into effect until 1971. Since then, Columbus Day has been observed every second Monday of October, coinciding with Canadian Thanksgiving.

On Columbus Day, banks, federal agencies, most government offices, schools, and many businesses are closed. Actual observance of the holiday varies state by state. In some parts of the country, large-scale parades and events are organized. In others, no special events take place. The oldest Columbus Day parade parades takes place in San Francisco, while the largest one is held New York City.

Columbus Day celebrations have declined over the past couple of decades. Some states celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of or in addition to it. As of 2021, they included Alaska, California, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin, as well as Washington, D.C.

Outside of the contiguous United States, Columbus Day is celebrated in the United States territories. In some of them, it has alternative or additional names: Commonwealth Cultural Day in the Northern Mariana Islands, Discovery of America Day in Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands–Puerto Rico Friendship Day in the US Virgin Islands.

The anniversary of Columbus’s arrival is also observed on its actual date or on the second Monday of October in some countries of Central and South America and the Caribbean, where it is known by many names: the Day of the Race, the Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity, the Day of Indigenous Resistance, the Day of the Encounter of Two Worlds, and others. These countries have changed the name to remove ties to Christopher Columbus, who they associate with the beginning of colonization and oppression, and to highlight the cultural aspect of the holiday.

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