Columbus Day 2015 will come at the same time it does every year: the second Monday in October. But many are wondering if this is a holiday we should actually be celebrating. Schools will close and stores will be holding sales, but when you think about what we’re really celebrating, it feels a little undeserving, according to some critics.
The Truth About Columbus Day
The political debate about whether or not the American people should celebrate Columbus Day goes on every year. One of the biggest support groups for banning the day is pushing to rename the holiday to “Indigenous People’s Day,” though others thought that idea was downright ridiculous.
The argument behind their push for a rename of the holiday stems from what Columbus’ conquest was really about. When Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, he was setting out to discover more geography. In the end, he found his new land, and it’s the very land we live on today. That’s definitely something to be grateful for.
But he also took it from the native people. He and the Conquistadors started a revolution in which European men pushed out the current residents in order to take over their resources and land.
In 1494, Columbus initiated the trans-Atlantic slave trade, beginning years of slave trading, treating people like animals, and dehumanizing an entire race. It later moved on to slave trading in the Caribbean and other islands and underdeveloped countries. This slave trade worked very nicely for the people of Spain. It helped clear out the land so that colonists could come in and take over, and it also helped fund the colonization of the “Indies.”
Columbus’ actions mirror those that we have seen for the more than three centuries of American history when it comes to race and politics. The supremacist nature of one race overcoming another. Is this really something that the American people should be celebrating?
The Way We Celebrate
Some would argue that the holiday is still worth celebrating, simply because Columbus really was integral to the formation of the United States. Without his vigilant efforts, America would have been colonized much later than it is, and our society would be far less developed. Likewise, with the mindset of the people of the time, the conquest and exploitation aspects of Columbus’ visit would have happened no matter what, so we might as well celebrate the good aspects and ignore the bad.
However, we don’t celebrate the good aspects anymore. When all is said and done, Columbus Day has become nothing more than a break from school and work and a commercial holiday. Stores have learned to capitalize on every holiday known to man, and Columbus Day is no exception. One expert from Deal News states that when it comes to shoes and accessories, Columbus Day is the prime time of year to shop. It’s no Black Friday, but the average consumer can save anywhere from 30 to 70 percent on select items during the holiday sale.
Should We Abolish Columbus Day?
Perhaps those calling to abolish the holiday would be a little happier if we celebrated Columbus Day how it should be celebrated: Looking at the wonderful things it’s brought us as well as the negative way its shaped our culture. Learning about the negative aspects in history instead of trying to hide them could be the solution to many of the world’s racial and political problems.
The American people have entered an era in which a call for change has become status quo. With enough voices, Columbus Day could very well be abolished, and we would be out one more commercialized holiday to celebrate.