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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Columbus Day--What does it mean to you?

This Monday is a holiday in much of the United States. The second Monday of October is the day which we celebrate Columbus Day. It is to mark the day in which Christopher Columbus "discovered" the Americas on October 12, 1492. Now this holiday is celebrated in many of the "New World" countries, however it also has much controversy around it. And I will admit I believe in the controversy more than the holiday. However it will be nice to have my husband home on Monday with us.

I thought talking about this day, its history and the controversy would be a great way to celebrate Multicultural Monday as well as Columbus Day. So this day is to mark when Italian Christopher Columbus guided three ships, the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria to the "New World" backed by the Spanish monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. He of course was looking for China and did not know the Pacific Ocean existed. It is said he was the first European since the Vikings (who came in the 10th century) to come to the New World. And thus "discovered" the Americas in 1492. 

Columbus first landed in the Bahamas. Later that month he spotted Cuba and thought it was China and later he claimed Hispaniola which he believed might be Japan. He established the first Spanish colony there with 39 of his men. He returned to Spain  in 1493 triumphant bringing gold, spices and "Indians". He traveled across the Atlantic several more times in his life. By his third journey he realized he had not found a new route to Asia, but that he "discovered" a new land that was unknown to Europeans. (Source)


Columbus Day became a national holiday in 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This was due to much lobbying by Knights of Columbus. The holiday was celebrated on October 12 until 1971 when it was moved to the second Monday in October to give people a three-day weekend. However Columbus Day had been celebrated in different parts of the United States. One source says it was first celebrated in New York City in 1792. (Source) I found another source that says it was first celebrated in San Francisco in 1869. The first state to celebrate it was Colorado in 1907. (Source)
Hazel's telescope we made from a cardboard roll from parchment paper, toilet paper roll, duct tape and yarn.

The controversy is that the settlement of Europeans lead to the death of many of the indigenous people in the Americas. There are some stories that say that Columbus and his men handed the native people blankets known to be carrying many deadly diseases like smallpox. As a result there are states, California, Nevada and Hawaii, that do not celebrate Columbus Day. Native American Day is celebrated in South Dakota and Indigenous People's Day is celebrated in Berkley, California. (Source) Opposition to Columbus Day began in the 19th century. Native Americans spoke the loudest about celebrating a day that lead to colonizing the Americas and thus killing so many of their people. Plus to celebrate a man who captured the native people and forced them into slavery is rather upsetting. There are also stories of his punishments being rather torturous when he was governor. (Source)


 
Hazel and Daddy's Ships including one drawn completely by Hazel.
 

However we look at the holiday, it is a day off. And Christopher Columbus landing in the Americas is part of my country's history. So if you are looking for some crafts to do with your children to teach them about the day, here are a few resources for you. All of the places we got the above projects are listed here.
Ok, that is enough to keep you busy! Happy Columbus Day or whatever you want to call it holiday! 

1 comment:

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