Columbus Day

Categories:National Holidays
Jim Bolinger

Columbus Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October in memory of the day Columbus discovered the Americas. Columbus Day became an official state holiday in Colorado in 1905, and became a federal holiday in 1970. In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to celebrate Columbus Day on the 400th Anniversary of the event. During the 400-year anniversary in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day rituals to teach ideals or patriotism. These patriotic rituals were framed around themes such a support for war, citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation, and celebrating social progress.

Columbus Day was first popularized as a holiday in the United States through the lobbying of Angelo Noce, a first generation Italian, in Denver. Colorado governor Jesse F. McDonald decreed the first official non-centennial Columbus Day in 1905 and made state law in 1907. In April 1934, at the behest of the Knights of Columbus, Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt set aside October 12 as Columbus Day and a Federal holiday.

Since 1971, the holiday has been commemorated in the U.S. on the second Monday in October, the same day as Thanksgiving in neighboring Canada. It is generally observed today by banks, the bond market, the U.S. Postal Service and other federal agencies, most state government offices, and some school districts; however, most businesses and stock exchanges remain open.

It is proper to display the flag from sunrise to sunset on all the days the weather permits. The flag may also be displayed at night if illuminated by a light. However it is even more important to display the American flag on national holidays and days of importance like Columbus Day.