Here's Why Columbus Day Is the Most Controversial Holiday

Monument Of Christopher Columbus Against Cloudy Sky
Photo: Artem Dunaev / EyeEm/Getty Images

Every year, to less and less fanfare, Christopher Columbus’s legacy is celebrated (well, part of it, at least).

On October 12, 1492, Columbus arrived at, and thus, “discovered,” the Americas. Well, that idea is growing less accepted by the year. Many point out that the explorer didn’t actually discover the land — there were already indigenous people living there, they just hadn’t made a big thing about it. And OK, if we’re going to credit him with the discovery, the fact that he made the indigenous people’s (aka native americans) lives a living hell — through slavery, religious assimilation, and the spread of disease — doesn’t really shout, "Here's a guy worth celebrating."

For these reasons, many have suggested that we rename the second Monday in October Indigenous People’s Day. In fact, several states and cities already have — Berkeley, Phoenix, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Albequerque, Alaska, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Vermont have all abandoned Columbus Day.

One of the reasons the switch to Indigenous People’s Day hasn’t been made nationwide is Columbus’s importance to the Italian-American community. Columbus, hailing from Genoa, Italy, has been adopted as an Italian hero, the observance of Columbus Day acting as a celebration of Italian-American heritage.

The holiday falls on Oct. 8 this year — will you be celebrating?

Related Articles