Columbus Day and El Día de la Raza – The Day of Our Races

Painting of Columbus Landing in New World

In the United States Columbus Day is celebrated this month on the second Monday of October . It commemorates the landing of Columbus in the Bahamas on October 12th, 1492. It was the first lasting contact between the Europeans and the indigenous people of the American continents. (It wasn’t the first contact since Vikings are believed to have landed in Newfoundland in the 11th century – in what is now the East coast of Canada).

Though Spain paid for his voyage, Columbus is believed to have been born in Italy. Columbus Day was first celebrated by Italian immigrants in the United States. In 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt made it an official holiday.

Since then, many people in the US were taught as young children in school that Columbus’ voyage was a positive thing. We learnt about the ships he sailed with: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. It was the beginning of western civilization in this part of the world. We were basically taught that this was positive, since it’s what led to us living here.

Today there is some controversy that surrounds the holiday. There are many Native American Indian populations that don’t view Christopher Columbus’ voyage in a favorable light. The westerners brought disease and warfare to their people.

Many of the settlers from Spain intermarried with indigenous people who lived in the Americas. Today, many Hispanic people have a mixed heritage. That’s why they celebrate El Día de la Raza (The Day of Our Races), instead of Columbus Day. It’s a celebration of their indigenous roots.

In the 21th century, there’s no reason why a celebration of Columbus Day can’t include celebrations of the cultures that existed here before Christopher Columbus set foot in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492.

Here’s a link to some Mexican Songs for El Día de la Raza – in Spanish only.

This article was posted on Tuesday, October 7th, 2008 at 4:01 pm and is filed under Columbus Day, Costa Rica, Countries & Cultures, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Día de la Raza – The Day of Our Races, Holidays Around the World, Mama Lisa, Mexico, Peru, Spain, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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