Happy Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day!

I hope you have a chance to enjoy the origins of this federal holiday. Columbus Day is meant to commemorate the voyage of Christopher Columbus to America. This day was first celebrated on the 300th anniversary of his landing, on October 12, 1792, by New York’s Columbian Order, also known as the Society of St. Tammany. It became a federal holiday in 1937.

You may prefer to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This holiday is also called First Peoples’ Day, National Indigenous Peoples’ Day, or Native American Day. Celebrated on the second Monday in October, this day directly opposes Columbus Day to commemorate the histories and cultures of the Native American people.

Some Italian-Americans observe Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage. Since Columbus hailed from Italy. He searched for a faster route to the Far East by crossing the Atlantic Ocean, and instead landed in the New World. His first trip comprised of three ships, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. When he and his crew arrived after a three-month voyage, they initiated the Columbian Exchange. This program introduced plants, animals, culture, settlers, and technology to the New World, but also brought invasive species and communicable diseases to the region.

It is because of these and other negative associations with Columbus’ arrival that eleven states celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day rather than Columbus Day. Wisconsin became the latest state to observe this day, formally recognizing the day on Tuesday of last week.

Whichever day you observe, I hope you enjoy the day and what it represents to you. Sonja

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