In October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World. He was looking for a western route to the West Indies. He, mistakenly, believed the Earth to be smaller than it was, and China to be bigger, and Japan to lie further from China than it does.
Columbus had trouble getting funding for his trip. He approached Portugal, Spain, Genoa, and Venice to try and get funding for his explorations. But after making his presentations, other experts looking over his figures always advised against funding him, explaining that his figures were wrong and the trip was much longer than Columbus thought.
Finally, after two years of negotiations with Spain, Queen Isabella sent him away. As he was leaving, King Ferdinand relented and the two granted him enough money to finish funding his trip.
After final preparations, he started on the final journey across the sea on September 6, 1492, and finding land on October 12, 1492. A lookout spotted the land, but Columbus later said he had seen it a light on land several hours earlier.
Columbus arriving in the new land of America is a holiday celebrated all over the world. In some countries it is called Christopher Columbus day, while in others it is called Discovery Day.
In the United States, the first observance was on October 12, 1792, to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the new world. Italian-Americans in New York City started to celebrate this day in 1866 to show their national pride at being the same nationality as the discoverer of their new country. It became an official state holiday in Colorado in 1906, and a 1934 President Roosevelt made it a Federal Holiday.
Many Latin America countries have celebrated October 12 throughout the 20th century. At first, October 12th was celebrated as Día de la Raza, translated as “Day of the Race” or “Day of the People”, celebrating the Spanish influence who came over after Columbus’ discovery. In some of the countries now, it has been changed to Día de la Resistencia Indígena (Day of Indigenous Resistance), to celebrate the native people’s resistance to the Spanish influence.
Spain has celebrated this day over the last 20 years, but not with any consistency. They have celebrated it to commemorate their history, and to emphasize their relation to the international Spanish community.
There have also been movements not to celebrate Columbus Day. In the United States, both Hawaii and South Dakota celebrate with day with other names. Especially in recent years, as more information is studied and release about Columbus, his life and motivations, people are questioning where this is something we should be celebrating.
Columbus, it is being revealed, was just a social climber, trying to make a name for himself, as well as get rich. He had no problems putting the natives of the countries he discovered, and later governed, into slavery. There are records of atrocities being committed under his governorships, which he knew of, and even condoned.
However you look at it, the day that Christopher Columbus’ ships found the New World and bought the information home to Spain is a day that changed the course of the world.