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5 Reasons Why Columbus Day Should Not Be Celebrated

5 Reasons Why Columbus Day Should Not Be Celebrated

Last Updated on February 25, 2024 by Kimberlee Johnson

During my youth, I was educated that Christopher Columbus was a courageous adventurer who discovered America. However, as I matured, I discovered that there are additional layers to his narrative.

Columbus Day used to be a happy day, but now many people argue about it. 

Instead of ignoring these disagreements, I’ll talk about five reasons why Columbus Day should not be celebrated. Read on. 

Top 5 Possible Reasons Why Columbus Day Shouldn’t Be Celebrated

Close Up Image of Christopher Columbus Statue

1. Columbus Is Not A Good Navigator 

Christopher Columbus, often praised as a great explorer, didn’t have good navigation skills. 

His miscalculation of the distance between Europe and Asia indicates his limited proficiency in maritime navigation. 

Such misjudgments cast doubts on his suitability for the honor typically accorded to celebrated explorers. But why do we celebrate Columbus Day?

2. Selfish & Dishonest

While history recognizes Columbus for discovering new lands, a closer examination reveals a troubling pattern of selfishness and dishonesty. 

He deliberately appropriated credit for discovering territories already sighted by others, displaying an unsettling disregard for the truth and an eagerness to claim unearned honor.

3. Responsible For Brutality

Columbus’s arrival in the America started a series of events that caused much suffering for the native people. 

“When there are such lands there should be profitable things without number.” 

Christopher Columbus, Explorer

He played a big part in being cruel, making them do what he wanted, and causing many deaths. Thus, celebrating Columbus Day might ignore the really bad things he did.

4. Stubborn Beliefs

Even when there was more and more proof that he was wrong, Columbus wouldn’t give up his idea that he had reached Asia [1]. 

This stubbornness shows his narrow thinking, making it hard to believe he should have a special day to honor him.

5. He Is Not The First Explorer

Historical records indicate that Europeans, specifically Vikings, had reached the American continent before Columbus’s famous voyage. 

This historical context challenges the exclusivity of Columbus’s “discovery” and necessitates a reevaluation of the rationale behind observing Columbus Day. 

With that, recognizing prior exploration reshapes the narrative surrounding Columbus’s significance in history.

Is Columbus Day Not A Federal Holiday Anymore?

Columbus Day is still one of the official federal holidays in the US, but it’s considered smaller than others. 

While postal services are suspended, and certain banks might close their doors, most businesses continue to operate as usual. 

This day also frequently witnesses retail establishments offering special sales. 

Ultimately, this shows how we see Columbus Day change over time, and it might not be as important as it used to be. But where is the Columbus Day parade in New York?

How Many States Don’t Celebrate Columbus Day?

At present, a minimum of twelve states have opted not to observe Columbus Day. 

These states include Hawaii (“Discoverers’ Day”), Alaska, Vermont, South Dakota (“Native American Day”), Wisconsin, New Mexico, Maine, Oregon, North Carolina, and Washington, DC. 

Moreover, specific parts of California, such as Los Angeles County, have also chosen to forgo the celebration. 

Instead, these regions have embraced Indigenous Peoples’ Day to recognize and honor the indigenous communities that historically inhabited these lands.

Find the important events that happened in Washington, D.C., on Veterans Day here.

Should Columbus Be Considered A Hero?

Philadelphia's Christopher Columbus Statue

Christopher Columbus is a person from history who is both important and controversial. Some see him as a hero because he found new places that changed the world. 

But others disagree and think calling him a hero is debatable. He did things that affected the course of history a lot. Yet, his mistreatment of fellow humans is unavoidable and terrible.

On the other hand, he’s not completely a bad person, but what he did makes it hard to see him as only a hero. 

So, recognizing his complexities is crucial, as his deeds encompass significant exploration and the grave mistreatment of others, a duality that must be acknowledged to understand his legacy fully.

Why Is Columbus Day Now Known As Indigenous People’s Day?

In 1992, the transformation of Columbus Day into “Indigenous Peoples Day” served as an essential protest against Europeans’ historical conquest of North America [2]. 

This renaming was not merely symbolic; it aimed to spotlight the profound losses endured by Native American peoples and their cultures.

“A hero’s legacy cannot stand on a foundation of injustice. Columbus Day’s commemoration overlooks the shadows cast by his deeds.”

Howkapow Gift Site

It’s also a way to remember how Native Americans suffered from diseases, fights, killings, and being made to be like others. 

Also Read:

FAQs

What did Christopher Columbus call the negatives of America?

Christopher Columbus referred to the indigenous peoples he encountered as “Indios” or “Indians,” a term that reflects his mistaken belief that he had reached India rather than the Americas.

Find out when the Columbus storm happened here.

What was America called before Columbus discovered it?

Before European arrival, America held potential names such as “Zuania,” derived from Caribbean origins, and “Abya-Yala,” used by the Kuna people of Panama, offering glimpses into the diverse cultural tapestry that existed before Columbus’s arrival.

You might also like to read about what’s the best day to visit the Columbus Day flea market here.

Final Thoughts

Based on the debate about Columbus Day, we should think again about celebrating it. As I’ve learned more about it, two important things stand out. 

First, Christopher Columbus was important in history but did good and bad things. He was good at finding his way around and discovering new places, which was impressive. 

But the way he treated the native people he met was not good. 

Second, people’s opinions about Columbus Day are changing. Some states don’t celebrate it anymore, and recognizing the native people’s importance is becoming more important.

Thinking about all of this, it’s clear that the meaning of Columbus Day is changing, like history itself changes.

References:

  1. https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/asia/
  2. https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/north-america-physical-geography/
Kimberlee Johnson
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