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MAIN Arrow to Home LifeHome Life Arrow to Home Life - HolidaysHolidays Arrow to Home Life - Holidays - Columbus DayColumbus Day & Indigenous Peoples' Day

Columbus Day parade in New York City's 5th Avenue
New York's Fifth Avenue, the site of
America's largest Columbus Day parade.

As every school child knows, Christopher Columbus was the Italian navigator who sailed with Spanish ships to a land inhabited by native Americans only to mistakenly call them Indians because he thought that he had landed in India!

Despite the confusion, the discovery changed the course of history.

Today, among many celebrations that still mark the discovery of America, the biggest ones for consumers are the annual Columbus Day sales by major retailers coast to coast offering early fall bargains on garden equipment and air conditioners.

And, of course, there are the parades! The one in NYC is by far the largest, grandest and most popular, welcoming over 1 million spectators annually.

Meanwhile, another big celebration happens on the West Coast when Columbus Day is observed during San Francisco Fleet Week -- as the city's Italian American population joins in to salute the US Navy -- while commemorating the famous Italian who brought his three famous ships to America in 1492.


What's closed on Columbus Day?

Despite it being a normal workday for many Americans, Columbus Day is an official federal government holiday with post offices and banks closing in honor of the day (although Wall St. stock markets still stay open as usual.)

Libraries are also usually closed for the day. School observances are made at the local level, but more often than not East Coast schools will give the day off, while schools remain open throughout the rest of the nation.


Columbus Day controversies


Indigenous Peoples' Day celebrations take
place on the same day as Columbus Day.

A culture clash continues to grown between proponents of Native American rights and those who celebrate Columbus Day.

Those who still honor the day see Christopher Columbus as an epic figure who helped forge an important trade route from the Old World to the New World, which eventually led to the American ideals of liberty.

Meanwhile, Native Americans regard Columbus Day (only declared a federal holiday in 1937) as a teaching moment to remind the nation of its entire past: Could Columbus have truly "discovered" America when Native Americans had already been living there for countless generations?

As a result, individual states, cities and towns across the nation have begun swapping Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. The counter-celebration most importantly honors the rich history and culture of the nation's first inhabitants. Indigenous Peoples' Day also appeals to Americans' deep sense of fairness, putting a spotlight on the inequities Native Americans suffered after lending their life-saving support to the first "settlers" of colonial America.


also see -> The First Thanksgiving | Native American Art | Native American Month

More about Columbus Day & Indigenous Peoples' around the Web:

Around the Web, discover more about traditional and new ways to celebrate Columbus Day with more stories and history lessons, arts and crafts ideas, and video just up ahead...



Columbus Day
- From the Holiday Zone which offers fun arts and crafts ideas, songs and poems, with links to sites that celebrate Columbus Day. Sites that celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day are given equal time, as well.

Everything You Need to Know About Indigenous Peoples Day - The complete survey of the controversy including a feature video and how each holiday is celebrated.


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