Columbus Day is an American holiday, commemorating the date of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492.
It was first celebrated by Italians in San Francisco in 1869, following on the heels of celebrations in New York City. The first state celebration was in Colorado in 1905, and in 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt set aside Columbus Day as holiday in the United States. 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.
The date of Columbus's arrival in the Americas is celebrated in Mexico (and in some Latino communities in the USA as the Dia de la Raza ("day of the race"), commemorating the first encounters of Europe and the Americas which would produce the new Mestizo race.
Some Native American activists within the United States find the holiday offensive because they object to honoring a person who they see as opening the door to European colonization and exploitation of native peoples. This has caused a persistent controversy between Native Americans and Italian-Americans. In response to this controversy, some communities, such as Berkeley, California have renamed the holiday to "Indigenous Peoples Day".
Some have argued that the responsibility of contemporary governments and their citizens for allegedly ongoing acts of genocide against Native Americans are masked by positive Columbus myths and celebrations. These critics argue that a particular understanding of the legacy of Columbus has been used to legitimize their actions, and it is this misuse of history that must be exposed. The claim made here is that certain myths about Columbus and celebrations of Columbus make it easier for people today to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions or the actions of their governments.
See also: Christopher Columbus