The upcoming holiday of Columbus Day has fallen out of favor with parts of the United States; however, the early explorers were some of the first world travelers. And in a sense, Columbus had a passport of sorts – the sponsorship of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
While it is true that the Vikings arrived and settled before Columbus, and the Native Americans arrived here even earlier, it was his re-discovery of the Americas, if you would, that truly ignited the expansion of the known world, gave us the land we enjoy today, and possibly even our desire to explore and travel ourselves.
His landing in 1492 has been celebrated in the U.S. since 1792 when the first celebrations were held in Boston and New York. Many more celebrations followed and then in 1892 President Benjamin Harrison called on the country to “celebrate the four completed centuries of American life.” And it became a federal holiday in 1937 by proclamation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Many in the United States, in hindsight, have chosen to ignore the holiday, yet as we consider passports and travels, let’s consider how other parts of the world have handled the disgraced explorer. So grab your passport and celebrate these alternate holidays.
Venezuela renamed the holiday “Dìa de la Resistencia Indìgena” or the Day of Indigenous Resistance, recognizing the native peoples and their experience. Mexico celebrates the “Day of the Iberoamerican Race,” while the “Day of the original peoples and intercultural dialogue” is celebrated in Peru. Belize and Uruguay celebrate it as “Día de las Américas” – the Day of the Americas and Argentina calls it “Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural” or a Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity.
Even here in the U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon and South Dakota have officially replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, as have cities like Denver, Phoenix and Los Angeles. And others celebrate it as Leif Erickson Day recognizing his preColumbus visit to the Americas.
Back in Spain where Columbus received his sponsorship, the holiday is referred to as “Día de la Hispanidad” and “Fiesta Nacional de España.” “Giornata Nazionale di Cristoforo Colombo” or “Festa Nazionale di Cristoforo Colombo” is the formal name of Italy’s celebration as well as in Little Italys around the world. Similarly, some here in the U.S. take it as an opportunity to celebrate their joint American and Italian heritage since Columbus was Italian.
Therefore, with so many options, how will you celebrate Columbus Day on October 14? Will it be a day to remember that the bank and post office are closed, which they will be, or will you find a special way to celebrate from the examples above. And finally, this Columbus Day, if you cannot celebrate the explorer, then celebrate the experience of travel, the joy of discovery, and make arrangements for a passport, your key to discover your own new worlds. We can help!