October 8, 2018: Columbus Day

Many countries in the New World and elsewhere celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus‘s arrival in the Americas, which occurred on October 12, 1492, as an official holiday. The event is celebrated as Columbus Day in the United States, as Día de la Raza in many countries in Latin America, as Discovery Day in the Bahamas, as Día de la HispanidadFiesta Nacional in SpainDía del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural (Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity) in Argentina and as Día de las Américas (Day of the Americas) in Uruguay. These holidays have been celebrated unofficially since the late 18th century, and officially in various areas since the early 20th century.

Celebrated the second Monday of October in the United States.  Actual observance varies in different parts of the country, ranging from large-scale parades and events to complete non-observance. Most states celebrate Columbus Day as an official state holiday, though many mark it as a “Day of Observance” or “Recognition” and three do not recognize it at all. Most states (including states where it’s not a legal holiday) close schools and other state services, while others operate as normal.

HawaiiAlaska, and South Dakota are the three states that do not recognize Columbus Day at all, though Hawaii and South Dakota mark the day with an alternative holiday or observance. Hawaii celebrates Discoverers’ Day, which commemorates the Polynesian discoverers of Hawaii on the same date, the second Monday of October, though the name change has not ended protest related to the observance of Columbus’ discovery.  The state government does not treat either Columbus Day or Discoverers’ Day as a legal holiday; state, city and county government offices and schools are open for business. South Dakota celebrates the day as an official state holiday known as “Native American Day” rather than Columbus Day.  Nevada does not celebrate Columbus Day as an official holiday; however, the governor is “authorized and requested” by statute to proclaim the day each year.  This probably has less to do with any objection to the celebration of the day than the fact that it is relatively close to Nevada Day, and schools and banks can only be closed for so many days.

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