Columbus Day

Oh, what a beautiful October day in Brooklyn! Bubo is preening in the garden, full from a fruitful hunt in the park last night. The rain brought a number of gourmet items out into the open for Bubo to hunt, and the cool fall air has her more ravenous than usual. (And by gourmet items, I mean rodents, dears.)

Today is a national holiday in the United States. Most states here celebrate Columbus Day, to commemorate Christopher Columbus and his “discovery” of America. Clearly, Columbus was not the first human to have knowledge of America – there were people already here and he was not even the first European to land on these fair shores. What Columbus did amounts to an excellent job of marketing and promotion – for better or for worse.

New York celebrates Columbus Day with an enormous parade. South Dakota, on the other hand, no longer celebrates Columbus Day on this day – those citizens celebrate Native American Day to commemorate the indigenous peoples of this land who suffered greatly due to Columbus’s marketing campaign for the New World.

There is continued controversy with this holiday; while on the one hand it celebrates the European influence in the history of the Americas (Italian-Americans celebrate heartily the positive impact Italians have had on this country), folks argue that the holiday then also celebrates the colonization and near-destruction of the indigenous peoples with little (to no) regard for their cultures and basic human rights.

Whatever your stance on the holiday (or Christopher Columbus), for many people this day is a holiday from work, and that is a cause for celebration.

Perhaps taking some time from your parade/cook-out/loafing plans to learn more about European exploration, the indigenous peoples of the Americas, and the mixed legacy of colonization would be in order? This is not a lecture, dears. It is merely a suggestion. Holidays are so much sweeter with a wee bit of knowledge, aren’t they?

Christopher Columbus by Jan van der Straet



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