History of Columbus Day


Columbus Day, celebrated by Americans on the second Monday of each October, is a federally recognized holiday honoring the infamous Christopher Columbus, his voyages across ‘the ocean blue‘ that led him to the discovery of the New World in 1942.

Who was Christopher Columbus?
Christopher Columbus was an Italian-born explorer whose expeditions were supported by the Spanish Monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. He was expected to chart a western sea route to China, India and to the islands of Asia, which the Europeans believed had an abundance of spices and gold.

Christopher Columbus discovered the new world, known today as America, in 1492

During this time period educated Europeans weren’t aware the Pacific Ocean existed; therefore, it was assumed only the Atlantic Ocean separated the East Indies and Europe.

On his sea voyage, instead of landing on the islands of Asia, Columbus landed in the Bahamas, which hadn’t been explored since the 10th century. It’s been historically noted the Vikings were the first to discover the Americas but Christopher Columbus was the first European.

Columbus also anchored in the area known today as Cuba but when he spotted this land he thought he’d found the mainland of China.

Continuing this he discovered Hispaniola, which he thought was Japan, leaving approximately 39 American men to establish a colony. He returned to Spain in March of 1943, bringing with him spices, gold and captive Indians acquired during his expedition.

It wasn’t until Columbus’ third voyage he’d realized the lands from his adventures weren’t in Asia instead he’d found lands unknown to exist by Europeans.

It is historically noted Columbus sailed across the Atlantic many times before his death in 1506.Columbus Day has been a federally recognized holiday in America since 1971.

To learn more about Columbus Day visit http://www.history.com/topics/exploration/columbus-day or read my next article titled “States opposing Columbus Day adopt Indigenous People’s Day” to learn which states no longer recognize Columbus Day and why they’ve adopted Indigenous People’s Day instead.

Tonya Steele