“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” is a phrase that we are all quite familiar with. On October 12th 1492 Columbus left Spain and started his journey across the Atlantic and unbeknownst to him landed in the New World. Although Columbus is accredited to discovering America, Columbus Day is celebrated all over the world in countries like the Bahamas, Spain, Argentina, Belize and Uruguay.
“In the United States, Columbus Day became an official holiday in 1937 and is typically designated as the second Monday of October. Schools, businesses, the post office and banks usually are closed providing many with the opportunity for a three-day weekend. Throughout the United States, there are several different ways people celebrate this holiday. Catholic Americans celebrate in a more religious context, Italian Americans in a cultural context and the others usually attribute the holiday as an extra day of rest and relaxation.
“Catholic Americans strongly identify with Christopher Columbus. In the mid 19th century, Irish Catholic Americans formed the Knights of Columbus an anti-defamation league, now turned charity organization. Catholic Americans use Columbus as a patriotic symbol because Columbus was Catholic and he “founded” America. To celebrate, many Catholic Americans go to church and hold a reception in their local Knights of Columbus halls.
“Columbus is also a beloved symbol to Italian Americans. Although Columbus sailed from Spain under the direction of Queen Isabella, Columbus was originally from Italy. Italian Americans were the first to celebrate Columbus Day back in the late 1800s and consider Columbus a prominent figure in the history of Italian Americans.
“For those opting for a recreational holiday, the weather in October provides a unique opportunity to for activities outdoors. October in the United States usually designates the beginning of autumn with the foliage starting to emerge. Many Americans take advantage of the warm days and cool nights and opt to go to camping sites where they can enjoy their three day weekend with many different outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking and fishing.
“Regardless of how people celebrate Columbus today, one thing that remains consistent, is the fact that people usually spend time with their friends and family to celebrate the holiday. Although it has been 521 years since Columbus sailed the ocean blue, he remains a constant inspiration for many Americans as a leader of patriotism and heritage.