Columbus Day is a public holiday in the United States that commemorates the voyage of Christopher Columbus to the Americas in 1492.
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Federal observation of the holiday began in 1937 but Americans have been observing the anniversary of the voyage since colonial times. While the public holiday affords non-essential federal employees and schoolchildren the opportunity to have a day off, virtually no businesses close in observation of the holiday. Many states have decided to remove the holiday from the list of paid holidays that state employees are allowed. There is no mail delivery and banks are closed for business on the holiday.
Today, few festivities are held for Columbus Day although, during the month of October, schools may dedicate lessons to teaching about Christopher Columbus. Most townships and cities across the United States do not have any formal celebrations in place.
Some states have opted not to observe the holiday at all. Alaska, Hawaii and South Dakota do not recognize Columbus Day and, elsewhere, there is controversy surrounding whether Columbus Day should be a holiday. Some citizens of the United States argue that Christopher Columbus and his crew were cruel to the indigenous people when they arrived in the Americas.
On Monday, October 6 2014 the Seattle City Council voted to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous People’s Day to honor the culture, heritage, and contribution of Native Americans. The holiday will continue to be celebrated on the second Monday in October.
South Dakota celebrates Native American Day instead of Columbus Day, while Hawaii has chosen to celebrate a holiday known as Discoverers’ Day as a tribute to the Polynesians who discovered the islands.
Because of Columbus’s Italian heritage and Catholic faith, many Italian-American people observe the holiday by attending church services or parades on the holiday.
Columbus Day was originally held on 12 October every year to coincide with the anniversary of Columbus’s arrival. In 1971, the date of the holiday was changed to the second Monday in October.