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Columbus Day

Columbus Day 2017 and 2018 in the United States

Columbus Day is a public holiday in many parts of the United States that commemorates the voyage of Christopher Columbus to the Americas in 1492. In 2017, Columbus Day falls on Monday 9 October to create a long weekend.

YearDateDayHolidayStates
20179 OctMonColumbus DayAL, AZ, CO, CT, DC, GA,
ID, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME,
MO, MT, NE, NJ, NM, NY,
OH, PA, RI, UT, VA &
WV
20188 OctMonColumbus DayAL, AZ, CO, CT, DC, GA,
ID, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME,
MO, MT, NE, NJ, NM, NY,
OH, PA, RI, UT, VA &
WV
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Widespread official 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.

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.

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.

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. Many people across the United States argue that Christopher Columbus and his crew’s murderous abuse of the indigenous people of the Americas, means that Columbus should not be honored with a day in his name.

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.

However, groundswell for change is strongest at the local and city levels, where small jurisdictions are now quickly and consecutively changing the name or status of the holiday.