Monday, October 09, 2006

Break Out The Fine China And Silverware, It’s Columbus Day!

History is something I truly enjoy studying, so when I awoke this morning and was reminded by Odat’s blog that today is Columbus Day, I did some quick Christopher Columbus refreshing on the Wondernet. Ok, I’ll be honest; I was prompted more by the fact that for some today is a day off than by my interest in Mr. Columbus himself.

Now keep in mind that I was in an early morning no-coffee-yet haze while doing my Columbus Day research, so some facts may be a little sketchy. It was around this time in 1492 that Italian sailor Chris Columbus left Spain (who financed his voyage) for the New World. He sailed with three boats, which if I remember correctly were called the Enterprise, Excelsior and the Santa Fe. After that, the details begin to differ significantly from what we learned in textbooks as youngins.

From what I have gathered, it took Columbus something like five different voyages to “find” the New World, although Spain kept financing him, so he gets kudos there (unless he was a “kept” sailor and Queen Whatserhername was his royal sugar mamma). In the meantime, he “found” the Bahamas and even Cuba. Add to that the fact that there is ample evidence (depending on whom you believe) that anything Columbus did was moot because the Vikings had already “found” the New World. We are of course forgetting that the continent had long been inhabited anyway, so there was really nothing to find in the first place.

Confused? Join the party because I could reread what I just wrote another ten times and still have the scholarly reaction of “duhhhhhhh, what?” Of course, I wouldn’t be such a stickler about this if I had the day off because I can guarantee you that federal employees and bank employees couldn’t care less about what today is in observance of. I however did work today and am all the more interested in what should really be observed today and whether it’s worthy of some folks getting an all expense paid day off.

This got me thinking, as most things do, about all the other holidays where the observances are less than concrete. Perhaps the biggest of these is Christmas. It’s hard to be sure of the actual birthday of baby Jesus as the holiday evolved over the centuries until it coincided with a different religious holiday that already occurred each December. I suppose the day (though I have no proof whatsoever and am too lazy to find out for sure) could be in the middle of June. That would really affect the over commercialized version of Christmas, so I shudder to try to imagine the implications any more than I already have. Even the Fourth of July is slightly off kilter. John Adams wrote that he could foresee the third of July becoming a day of national celebration. I won’t bother to mention all the Presidential birthdays in February that were melded together to create President’s Day.

I suppose that next we’ll discover that Father’s Day is not the actual day that the very first father came into being, but was selected because there is normally good weather in mid-June making it perfect for barbequing. What again is Labor Day? Shouldn’t it be renamed to End of Summer Day since that’s what it has become?

Oh well, the second Monday of October is and apparently always will be Columbus Day and unless I change occupations, it won’t matter because I’ll still be working. So to you Mr. Columbus and your intrepid band of travelers, thank you for finding, or discovering, or stumbling upon wherever you did whenever you did at some point many years ago. American thanks you, I think.

Author’s note: very little actual research was done for this story and should it appear in your Google search for any school report or paper, it should be promptly ignored and discarded immediately.

5 comments:

Awesome Mom said...

I think would I prefer to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving today rather than Columbus Day. I hate that American Thanksgiving is so close to Christmas.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I also did a bit of research on this and came up with some startling facts, which I posted today.

I had always thought the competition to be first European in the New World, which is really quite, quite old, was between Columbus and Magellan. But the Chinese beat them both to our shores.

Sorry you had to work. Have you noticed how most of our holidays are misnamed? Labor Day, for instance, when few actually work.

Odat said...

Well, thank you for your insight and your dedciated research into this matter, and gee, I thought the names of Columbus'ships were somewhat different than the ones in your post, thanks for setting me straight ;-)..I appreciate it and I wholeheartedly agree with the way these so called dedicated days are now celebrated.
I, for one, bought a pair of Italian shoes yesterday! :-)

Peace

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

oh now that was a good blog! i tried this myself yesterday morning and had little success. don't bother to go look, it stunk! (see today's for the admission). anyway, good job! bee

PARLANCHEQ said...

Really it's all about the paid days off from work, not what's being celebrated. It would probably be easier to just have one generic holiday a month, like January Day, February Day, etc. Then people can celebrate whatever they want, while relaxing at home, getting paid for doing noting.

That said, I was psyched this year to have Columbus Day off. We have never had it as a holiday before this year.