Christopher Columbus, arriving in the Americas on October 12, 1482, is the reason we celebrate the Columbus Day holiday. That’s a fact we all probably know. However, there are other, less popular facts about this holiday. In fact, some of the facts below might surprise you!
Columbus Day | Surprising and Startling Facts
1. Columbus didn’t set sail to prove the Earth was round
By the sixth century B.C., the famous Greek mathematician Pythagoras had already determined that the world was round. Well-known Greek philosopher Aristotle supported this theory as well. That means, even before Columbus set sail, there was no need to prove that the earth was round. Most educated Europeans were already well-aware of this fact.
2. The names of Columbus’ ships are not what you thought they were
The names Santa Maria, Nina, and Pinta are the popular names that come up when discussing Columbus’ ships. In reality, neither Nina nor Pinta were the names of the ships. Pinta is a nickname some sailors gave a ship which is Spanish for ‘prostitute’. Nina, on the other hand, could have been a nickname for the ship owner, Juan Nino.
3. Not all American states celebrate Columbus Day anymore
The city of Oberlin, near Cleveland, will no longer celebrate Columbus Day–
changing it to Indigenous People’s Day https://t.co/ZNEIlYD460 pic.twitter.com/XIFyaPVSYU
— Erin Laviola (@ErinLaviola) August 24, 2017
Oregon, South Dakota, Alaska, and Hawaii do not recognize Columbus Day. Every year, it seems there are more objections about celebrating Columbus Day because of all the deaths, slavery, and destruction he caused. This is why other states and nations celebrate this day under a different name, such as Discoverers’ Day in Hawaii and Native American Day in South Dakota.
4. Columbus did not discover America
Columbus Day is celebrated to commemorate Columbus’ arrival in the Bahamas and not to celebrate his discovery of America. The truth is, millions of people had already inhabited America thousands of years before he ever set foot in it. Historians even argue that long before Columbus’ voyage, many other Asians and Europeans had set sail and dropped by America on their way to other destinations.
5. It was first recognized as a legal holiday in Colorado
#DidYouKnow Colorado was the first state to declare #ColumbusDay a legal holiday? More Columbus Day fast facts: https://t.co/qD1nJr6Azu pic.twitter.com/z4nXAQqECC
— WVU Online (@WVUonline) October 10, 2016
The first Columbus Day celebration was celebrated in 1792, which was organized by the Society of St. Tammany in New York. However, it wasn’t until 1907 that it was recognized as a legal holiday by the state of Colorado. By 1920, Columbus Day started to become an annual celebration.
For more interesting Columbus Day facts, check out this video from HISTORY:
You won’t understand the present if you don’t look back at the past. No matter what you call them, holidays such as Columbus Day gives us a chance to look into the past and see how much it has impacted the present. Also, it’s an extra day off to do something fun!
How do you celebrate Columbus Day? How do you feel about the holiday? Let us know in the comments!