The second Monday in October is designated in the United States as Columbus Day. This day commemorates Christopher Columbus’ first voyage and sighting of the Americas on October 12, 1492. However, Columbus Day as a federal holiday was not officially recognized until 1937.
Early Commemorations of Columbus
The first recorded ceremony commemorating Columbus in America occurred in 1792, 300 years after his famous first voyage in 1492. To honor Columbus, a ceremony was held in New York, and a monument was dedicated to him in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1892, a statue of Columbus was raised at Columbus Avenue in New York City. Further, at the Columbian Exposition held in Chicago that year, replicas of Columbus’ three ships were displayed.
Creating Columbus Day
Italian-Americans were key in the creation of Columbus Day. Beginning on October 12, 1866, New York City’s Italian population organized a celebration of the ‘discovery’ of America. This yearly celebration spread to other cities and became known as Columbus Day in San Francisco in 1869.
Colorado became the first state to observe an official Columbus Day in 1905. Over time other states followed until 1937 when President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed every October 12 as Columbus Day. In 1971, the federal holiday was officially changed by Congress to be observed on the second Monday in October.
Since Columbus Day is a designated federal holiday, the post office, government offices, and many banks are closed. Many cities across America stage parades that day. For example, Baltimore claims to have the “Oldest Continuous Marching Parade in America” celebrating Columbus Day. New York City holds a Columbus Celebration that includes a parade down Fifth Avenue and a mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Local Columbus Day celebrations being held in Hartford, New Haven and Litchfield Counties.
Have a great Columbus Day
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Source info: about.com