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Columbus Day

Monday, October 13th, marks the celebration of Columbus Day. Some believe this is that day that European's discovered America. Many schools will take a holiday off in commemoration.

Columbus Day is the annual U.S. commemoration of Christopher Columbus's landing in the New World (at San Salvador Island, also known as Waitling Island, today part of the British Bahamas) on October 12, 1492. Columbus was not the first European to successfully cross the Atlantic. Viking sailors are believed to have established a short-lived settlement in Newfoundland sometime in the 11th century, and scholars have argued for a number of other possible pre-Columbian landings. Columbus, however, initiated the lasting encounter between Europeans and the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere.

A number of nations celebrate this encounter with annual holidays: Discovery Day in the Bahamas, Hispanic Day in Spain, and Dia de la Raza in much of Latin America. In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Columbus Day a national holiday to be held every October 12. Then, in 1971, Congress moved the U.S. holiday from October 12 to the second Monday in October, to afford workers a long holiday weekend. U.S. federal government offices close on Columbus Day, as do most banks. Schools typically remain open, as do most American businesses.

For more information on Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day, please visit the Library of Congress's section on "Today in History: October 12."


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