Columbus Day

Second Monday in October

Commemorates the Italian navigator Christopher Columbus’ first landing in the New World on Oct. 12, 1492.


Aug. 3 1492 Columbus and 90 men set sail to find an easier route to Asia for spice merchants. The expedition was sponsored by Queen Isabella of Spain, provided that Columbus would conquer some of the islands and mainland for Spain.

Oct. 12 the ships landed on the island of Guanahani (in the Caribbean Islands) which Columbus immediately christened San Salvador and claimed it for Spain. When they landed on what is now Cuba they thought it was Japan. After 3 subsequent voyages Columbus died rich and famous but not knowing that he had discovered lands that few people had imagined were there. (The continent was not even named after Columbus but an Italian explorer named Amerigo Vespucci).

1792 a ceremony organized by the Society of St. Tammany, or Colombian Order was held in New York City honoring Columbus and the 300th anniversary of the landing.

Oct. 12 1866 out of the pride for their native son, the Italian population of New York organized the first celebration of the discovery of America.

1869 when Italians in San Francisco celebrated Oct. 12 they called it C-Day.

1892 President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed the 400th anniversary of the event.

1905 Colorado became the first state to observe a C-Day.

Since 1920 the day has been celebrated annually.

1937 President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed every Oct. 12 as C-Day.

1971 President Richard Nixon declared it a federal public holiday on the 2nd Mon. in Oct.


**Also known as Discoverers’ Day or Pioneers’ Day.

The major celebration of the day takes place in New York City, where a huge parade is held.