Columbus Day 2019 is celebrated on October 14, 2019.
Columbus Day is a U.S. national holiday on the second Monday in October that commemorates the sighting of land in what is now the Americas by Christopher Columbus on October 12, 1492.
In New York City, Columbus Day is the world’s biggest celebration of Italian-American culture.
Columbus was financed by the Spanish, but he was Cristoforo Colombo, an Italian from Genoa. In Spanish we call him Cristóbal Colón. In Portuguese he is Cristóvão Colombo.
It’s a big day for Spaniards and Native Americans too. The events put in motion by the arrival of Columbus made the Spanish and later the Portuguese rich, but led to the destruction of many Native American cultures.
New York City’s Columbus Day Celebration
New York City’s Columbus Day celebration is a big deal for New York City’s Italian-American community. Celebrations include a Gala Dinner, a Columbus Circle Wreath Laying, a Columbus Day Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Columbus Day Parade.
Columbus Day Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral
The festivities start with a Columbus Day Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 9:30 am. Tickets are required for entry before 9:15 am. After that it is unlikely there will be much room to enter.
Columbus Day is Controversial
We Native Americans see Columbus Day as a day that celebrates the genocide of us.
We Italians and Spaniards, see Columbus Day as a day of great pride in our heritage.
It’s impossible to understand someone else’s point of view, unless you live their lives.
Things like Nazi swastikas and Confederate flags are clearly assaulting. Things like Columbus statues or parades seem less directly threatening, but it all depends on your point of view.
How do you satisfy the pride of one group without insulting another?
Maybe the solution is to change Columbus Day to Italian Day. Italian-Americans have made far more important contributions to United States and Western culture, than the rediscovery of the Americas.
Rome spread Italian culture across the Mediterranean. The Italian Renaissance is the foundation of Western Civilization. There is no bigger contribution than that.
Italian day is something we can all celebrate. And if we made the day a celebration of both Columbus and America’s Indigenous peoples, we could all celebrate together. That’s the American way I was brought up to believe in.