It's Columbus Day, y'all

For those who are employed by financial institutions, the U.S. Postal Service, schools or are at home DVR-ing Charles in Charge, you’re most likely “celebrating” Columbus Day in many states today. Actually, for most of you with the day off, you might not realize why you have the day free. So, I will break it to some of you for the first time: it’s Columbus Day! For the rest of us, today is known as Monday.

I don’t mean to insult anyone who forgot that it was Columbus Day. The day seems to pass over most of us. Poor ole Columbus Day, the Ishtar of holidays. Let me fill you on the comparison: Ishtar is a disaster of a film well over 30 years old starring Dustin Hoffman. Ishtar briefly played in theaters and then it vanished. Actually the movie never vanished because it will live on forever in some form whether on film or some website. I’m sure Mr. Hoffman would like the film to permanently go away, but it will remain on this planet just like every Keeping up with the Kardashians episodes. Similar to Ishtar, Columbus Day is the type of holiday that creeps up on the public, but is still well off the radar and then suddenly… it disappears.

So why is this day celebrated? Columbus Day commemorates the day Christopher Columbus landed in America on October 12, 1492. Columbus Day didn’t become a federal holiday in the United States until 1937. Before that time, there were scores of celebrations in honor of Mr. Columbus’ landing dating back to 1792.

Columbus Day is actually October 12, but the day has been shifted to the second Monday of October year-to-year starting in 1970, the year Don Draper jumps off the Empire State building. Oh, did I give something away. Oh and yes, Rosebud is a sled. Anyway, that shift to Columbus Day Mondays has made it possible for bankers, teachers and government workers to have the day off to buy appliances. Have you seen those deals at Sears?

There are some states that never observed Columbus Day. A few of those “Ishtar-less states” include Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon and South Dakota. So, both Sarah Palin and Don Ho are just two of the millions who have been deprived of Columbus Day in their pasts. That deprivation gave then-Miss Heath one more day to go to school and Mr. Ho, another day to play “Tiny Bubbles” to tourists.

Just like Ishtar, Columbus Day has its share of critics. About 10 years ago, the University of California, Los Angeles released unflattering documents of Columbus that portray him as someone who was a shameless self-promoter who stopped at nothing to advance his ambitions, kind of like the Donald Trump of his day. Seriously, many critics add that the world should not honor a man who engaged in brutality and enslavement of Native Americans. This criticism has led to protests around the globe on this day.​

Those protests do not look like they will persuade those state legislatures to end Columbus Day anytime soon. So, for those of you off today, remember that there’s a reason for why you’re at home watching the Bradys.  I’ll get back to you on the Gigli of holidays also known as President’s Day in a few months.


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