Happy Columbus Day! Columbus day is a U.S. holiday that celebrates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World on the second Monday in October. As celebrations draw to a close, here are 6 little-known facts about the popular holiday that is celebrated by Italian-Americans across the United States.
1. We Don’t Know Where Columbus’ Bones Are
Christopher Columbus is a very important part of world history, but we still don’t know where his bones are. When he died in 1506 his bones were taken to his family’s mausoleum in Seville, Spain – but around 40 years later his son asked them to be moved to the Cathedral of Santo Domingo.
In the 1700s the bones were moved again to Cuba, and then they were returned to Seville. However, the bones were later found in the Dominican Republic, and then again 100 years later at the Columbus Lighthouse. So it is difficult to know for certain where his bones are!
2. Columbus Day Is Celebrated In Several Countries
Although the holiday is well known as a U.S. holiday, Columbus Day is also celebrated in Latin America, including Argentina, Uruguay and Belize. It is also celebrated in the Bahamas and Spain. The holiday goes by different names in each country, but they all celebrate the same event.
3. Columbus Probably Wasn’t The European To Travel Across The Atlantic
Columbus is famed for being the first European to travel across the Atlantic, but it is likely that he wasn’t actually the first. Norse Viking Leif Eriksson was actually the first to sail across the ocean, at around 1,000 A.D – about five centuries before Columbus did.
4. Columbus Brought Citrus To The New World
Columbus was known for looting and stealing, and history books often comment that he stole a lot from each country he visited. He stole gold, spices, parrots and even human captives from Haiti. He was sponsored by King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I of Spain, and they were happy to receive his loot – especially citrus fruit seeds, which ended up growing in the West Indies, Florida and Mexico.
5. Christopher Columbus Knew That The World Was Round
The most famous myth surrounding Columbus is that he discovered that the world wasn’t flat – but he didn’t. Pythagoras wrote about the Earth being a sphere in the sixth century B.C., and many other scholars throughout history agreed. It is likely that most educated people knew that the world wasn’t flat before Columbus set off on his travels; Columbus even owned a copy of Ptolemy’s Geography, which discusses the Earth being flat!
6. Some Cities Refuse To Celebrate Christopher Columbus
Columbus day is widely celebrated, but most people are aware that Columbus and his crew were responsible for the death and enslavement of millions of people. For this reason many cities have decided to rename the festival to honor the original inhabitants of the islands; Berkeley California replaced Columbus Day with the Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 1992, and Seattle and Minneapolis did the same in October 2014. Since then another seven cities have done the same thing.