It’s that time of year again! While Harvard is observing Columbus Day with no classes today, the holiday isn’t celebrated in all parts of the country. Only 34 states recognize Columbus Day as a legal holiday, and some US cities such as Minneapolis and Seattle have renamed it Indigenous People’s Day.
Columbus aside, major shoutout to whoever decided to put this holiday on a Monday. Because of them, we've had an extra night to party, and we're postponing our inevitable end-of-the-weekend panic a whole 24 hours. Cheers to that! Whether or not you agree with celebrating Columbus, here are some fun facts about the man of the day:
- He never actually set foot in North America. In actual fact he was chilling in the Caribbean the whole time.
- The city governments of Minneapolis and Seattle aren’t the only ones who disagree with what Columbus was about. After his voyages, the Spanish government brought him back in chains. And when the king and queen of Spain found out how he was treating the natives, he was stripped of his nobility and spent six weeks in jail. Yikes.
- He was an addict. Columbus was addicted to opium, the same substance that heroin comes from. Is that enough to explain his weird behavior, like chopping off the hands of people that disobeyed him? Maybe not.
- He was definitely not the first European to cross the Atlantic. Most people attribute that distinction to a Norse Viking named Leif Erikson, who managed it a whole four centuries earlier than Columbus, though some people believe it happened even earlier. Leif Erikson Day actually takes place in America on October 9, and lends itself far better to themed parties.