Published On: October 6, 2007
Wikipedia, the purveyor of limitless information, says that Columbus Day is a holiday celebrating the anniversary of the October 12, 1492 arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas.
The first Columbus Day celebration was held in 1792, when New York City celebrated the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World. President Benjamin Harrisoncalled upon the people of the United States to celebrate Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event in 1892.
Italian-Americans observe Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage, the first occasion being in New York City on October 12, 1866. Columbus Day was popularized as a holiday in the United States by a lawyer, a son of Genoese immigrants who came to California. During the 1850s, Genoese immigrants settled and built ranches along the Sierra Nevada foothills. As the gold ran out, these skilled “Cal-Italians”, from the Apennines, were able to prosper as self-sufficient farmers in the Mediterranean climate of Northern California. San Francisco has the second oldest Columbus Day celebration, with Italians having commemorated it there since 1869.
This lawyer then moved to Colorado, which had a population of Genoese miners, and where, in 1907, the first state-wide celebration was held. In 1937, at the behest of the Knights of Columbus (a Catholic fraternal service organization named for the voyager), President Franklin Delano Roosevelt set aside Columbus Day as a federal holiday.
Since 1971, the holiday has been commemorated in the U.S. on the second Monday in October, the same day as Thanksgiving in neighboring Canada. It is generally observed today by schools, some banks, the bond market, the U.S. Postal Service, federal offices, and most state government offices; however, most businesses and stock exchanges remain open.
Columbus Day Safety
The U.S. Coast Guard has posted an informative article on its website entitled Columbus Day Weekend Safety.
Columbus Day Parade New York City 2006 (Video)
Click Here to see the Columbus Day Parade New York City Video if you’re having trouble with the video above.