In school we’re taught that in 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue. With a crew of 90 people, he landed on an island in the Bahamas ten weeks after his ship left Spain in search of a new route to India. But now, most people know the holiday that celebrates his voyage across the Atlantic as just another day off from work or school.
Here are 5 facts you probably didn’t know about Columbus Day.
- The first celebration of Columbus Day was held in 1792 in New York City. It marked the 300th anniversary of Columbus’ landing.
- Columbus Day wasn’t a legal federal holiday until 1971. Before that, many people celebrated it on October 12, instead of the second Monday of October as we do now.
- Many countries celebrate the landing of Columbus! In many Latin American countries, the holiday is known as Día de la Raza and in the Bahamas, it’s called Discovery Day. People in Spain celebrate Spanish ship’s successful voyage with Día de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional.
- The Republic of Columbia in South America and the District of Columbia in the US are both named after Columbus.
- The celebration of Columbus Day has recently been a controversial issue. Many people believe that Americans should not celebrate Christopher Columbus because of his violent actions against Native Americans.