It was little more than 500 years ago that Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain to cross the Atlantic in pursuit of a new route to the East Indies. Instead, he found the Bahamas. Yet from that moment forward, the course of Western civilization was forever changed, and for it we now celebrate Columbus Day every second Monday each October. However, the United States isn’t the only country to commemorate Columbus’s journey in 1492. Several countries in Latin and South America, as well as the Bahamas and Spain, have national holidays tied to the Italian explorer and his impact on the Americas, which to some is a dubious honor.

A Change For The Better?

No one can deny that for the native peoples of the Americas, Christopher Columbus brought an irrevocable change to their very existence. For many, it wasn’t for the better. That’s why some countries choose to focus their attention on the people that were already here prior to the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. For instance, Venezuela marks the occasion as the Day of Indigenous Resistance. Argentina calls it the Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity. And for some folks in the United States, it’s just another Monday.

Not Everyone Celebrates

The observance of Columbus Day varies greatly from state to state. South Dakota, Alaska, and Hawaii, don’t celebrate it at all. Meanwhile, some cities use it as an opportunity to honor their local community’s Italian population rather than focus solely on the figure of Christopher Columbus. Both New York City and San Francisco have long-held Columbus Day parade traditions. As with virtually any other holiday – Easter, Memorial Day, Christmas – people choose to celebrate or not celebrate Columbus Day based upon the personal ties they have to it. So if you do commemorate Columbus Day, may you have a joyous and relaxing holiday. And if you don’t, just don’t make the mistake of swinging by the post office today. Because Columbus Day is a federal holiday, all post offices are closed.