Columbus Day celebrates the October 12, 1492, arrival of Italian-born explorer Christopher Columbus on his first voyage to the New World. The holiday has long been celebrated throughout the Western Hemisphere under various names such as the Dia de la Raza in South America and Thanksgiving in Canada. Italian-Americans have adopted Columbus Day as a day to celebrate their Italian heritage.
In the United States, Columbus Day is the only public holiday in October. It takes place each year on the second Monday of the month. Because it always falls on a Monday, many Americans take advantage of the three-day Columbus Day weekend to travel.
When is Columbus Day?
- Columbus Day 2013: October 14
- Columbus Day 2014: October 13
- Columbus Day 2015: October 12
- Columbus Day 2016: October 10
Columbus Day Celebrations
Several cities throughout the country celebrate Columbus Day with parades. The most famous Columbus Day Parade is in New York City. Ongoing since 1929, more than 35,000 people participate in the New York City Columbus Day Parade each year.
Colorado was the first state in the nation to celebrate Columbus Day in 1907. The Denver Columbus Day Parade, which is a celebration of Italian-American heritage, has been ongoing since 1909.
Other cities with Columbus Day parades and celebrations include:
Columbus Day: A Controversial Holiday
While Columbus Day is a national holiday, it is rarely celebrated as widely, and with the same bombast and patriotism, as is Independence Day. In fact, a few states - Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, and South Dakota - do not even observe Columbus Day as a holiday. In South Dakota, for example, Columbus Day is instead celebrated as Native American Day. Several jurisdictions in California celebrate Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day.
There are many in the United States who oppose the celebration of Columbus Day because it is associated with the European colonization of Native American lands. To learn more about the opposition to Columbus Day, read The Argument Against Columbus Day from About's Guide to Race Relations.