Brownielocks and The 3 Bears
The History of
"In a museum in Havana
there are two skulls of Christopher Columbus, one when he was a boy and one when
he was a man."
--- Mark Twain
NOTE: We have some Columbus
Day Products in our Store. Take A Peek!
Columbus may be famous today as an explorer, but he died in 1506 in
poverty and most of his achievements basically forgotten. Originally born in
1451 in Genoa, Italy (his parents were a wool merchant and weaver) he took off
at the age of 14 to sail. A shipwreck off the coast of Portugal in 1470 caused
him to swim ashore and there he settled briefly and then moved to Spain.
Columbus' discovery of America was a combination of: pure accident, a big
ego and hugely under estimating the real distance between Europe and the East
Indies. Back in the 15th Century, many did believe that the earth was round, but
they also believed that there was a distance of 10,000 miles of ocean to cross
between Europe and the East Indies. And a only an elite group actually
believed a ship could make this journey successfully.
time, Christopher Columbus was 46 years old. He was an Italian explorer,
who wasn't so good on calculations. He grossly miscalculated the distance
of 10,000 to be only 2,500 (a quarter of what it really is). So some say
when he set sail on August 3, 1492, he wasn't courageous, he was misguided. ;0
They feel that if he really really knew how long it was, he wouldn't have gone.
Columbus had no intention of finding America. He wanted to find the Spice
Islands aka Moluccas or East Indies. And his financial backing did not
come from Italy, but from Spain. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, were
hoping he'd bring them back spices -- especially pepper! Why? Pepper
was an essential spice in those days to preserve meat (they didn't have
refrigeration yet) and disguise bad tastes.
did Columbus underestimate the distance, he somehow had no clue that there was
this big huge landmass (aka North America) between Europe and the East Indies.
So, after being at sea for 2 months, on October 12, 1492, he landed on an
island in the Bahamas, which he named San Salvador (Some historians believe
Watling's Island in the Bahamas is where he really landed) , haughty and proud
thinking he had accomplished his goal of sailing to the East Indies.
Arawak Indians greeted him, but, they didn't have any spices let alone pepper.
They also had no gold or really anything worth bringing back to Spain. You
can imagine what Columbus thought! The trip was a total bust. But, to
Columbus' dying day, he believed he had reached the East Indies. He just
felt it wasn't his fault they didn't have the spices that were so rumored about.
the Arawak Indians were peaceful. They served as guides to help Columbus
for the remainder of his voyage. I shall insert a joke here. Those
of us who are Italian often remark that it's a good thing Columbus wasn't afraid
to ask for directions or he'd never have found anything! ;)
Columbus sailed and sailed and sailed. In a 9 year time frame, he made 3
voyages eventually discovering: Dominica, Jamaica, Trinidad and the mouth of the
Orinoco River on the S. American mainland. On his 4th and final voyage of
his life, he made it down to the Isthmus of Panama, but he never did find the
East Indies, all those spices, gold etc. that he expected.
returned back to Spain in 1504 only to have his patron Queen Isabella die a few
weeks later. Without her, he basically was a pauper and as I said in the
beginning, he died 2 years later in 1506 in poverty.
though America wasn't named after Columbus (It was named after Amerigo
Vespucci, who followed Columbus afterwards.) it's an observance that has been
taken very seriously in this country for many years.
first Columbus Day celebration took place in New York City in 1792, the
300th anniversary of Columbus' first voyage. This was done by The Society
of St. Tammany, also known as the Columbian Order. As
time went on, the Italian population of New York City annually celebrated
Columbus's discovery. It is believed that the Compagnia del Toro al
Bersaglio di New York Sharpshooter's Association began the
festivities. Soon other Italian Associations followed them in other parts
of the country. So that by 1869, in New York City, Columbus Day was celebrated
very elaborately with sharp shooting contests, dancing, festivals and Italian
ships in the harbor all decorated.
(Note: Some communities held turkey shoots on Columbus Day. But due to many
charges of animal cruelty, they no longer are held.)
in San Francisco they celebrated on October 17, 1869 and called it
Discovery Day. The event was organized by Nicola Larco, a community leader
and business partner of the chocolate magnate, Domenico Ghirardelli, a year
earlier. Mr. Larco also founded La Societą Italiana di Mutua
Beneficenza (Began in 1858 and is oldest continuously-existing
Italian-American organization in the United States). San Francisco annually puts
on a Columbus Day parade and claims to have the oldest continuously-existing
Italian-American celebration in this country.
Day is embedded into the Italian-American culture. So, later on when the
California Capitol in Sacramento was being restored, architects suggested that
the Columbus statue that had been erected on the capitol grounds in 1882 be
removed. Italian-American politicians and other organizations caused a stir of
protest about that. And, so the statue was reinstalled and kept.
most common way Columbus Day is celebrated is with a parade where mostly
Italian-Americans and Knights of Columbus members parade up the
street. In New York, over 100,000 people march up 5th Avenue, along with
local and state politicians. And some hotels host a Columbus Day dinner.
also has a Columbus Day parade of smaller size around 8,000 people that
march about 4 miles from the city's Back Bay area to the North End. Los
Angeles and San Francisco have the largest parades on the West Coast. Some
believe that the parade for Columbus Day is a reflection of the Italian
religious processions of the Catholic religion.
way to celebrate Columbus Day is to reenact his first landing in the new
world. Many seaside communities across the United States hold Columbus Day
pageants and reenactments.
people feel the idea to do the reenactment originates from the painting by John
Vanderlyn called "The Landing of Columbus." This painting was
commission for the U.S. Capitol rotunda in 1839 and was later reproduced on
celebration of Columbus Day is mostly popular in Italy. Spain,
of course highly celebrates Columbus Day, especially where he launched his 3
ships: The Nina, The Pinta and The Santa Maria. In
Mexico, Columbus Day is part of their Dia de la Raza (Day of the Race)
MAKING IT LEGAL
1907, Colorado was the first state to make Columbus Day a legal holiday, due to
a drive led by a local prominenti aided by the Italian consul in Denver.
it took another 100 years before a national celebration was held in 1892.
The Knights of Columbus, a Roman Catholic society for men (founded in 1882)
petitioned state legislatures over and over to declare October 12 a legal
400th anniversary of Columbus' voyage, President Benjamin Harrison made a
commemorative proclamation in 1892 at the opening of the Columbian Exposition in
1905, Colorado (not New York) became the first state to observe Columbus
Day, proclaimed by then Governor Jesse F. McDonald. This means the entire State,
not just a city. People get this confused. But, it wasn't made an official
holiday in Colorado until 1907. Since 1920, Columbus Day has been
celebrated annually by communities, or states in some manner. Although President
Franklin Roosevelt in 1937 proclaimed every October 12 as Columbus Day,
regardless of the day of the week it landed on. Well proclaiming a holiday and
actually making it legitimate are two different things.
1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed a law officially making the second Monday
in October a federal holiday to observe Columbus Day!
not everyone supports having a Columbus Day for various reasons. Columbus
Day is not a legal holiday in Nevada. In Berkeley, CA (since 1992) they've
changed the title to "Indigenous People's Day." South Dakota
calls it "Native American Day." And, Hawaii doesn't officially honor
Columbus Day either.
Christopher Columbus the Man:
in History October 12
Christopher Columbus Facts
Hotels - Columbus Discovers The Caribbean!
feel it was Columbus who should get credit for discovering America when
he really landed in the Bahamas?
about Leif Erikson, who many feel is the real explorer who discovered
to our Month of October
Source: "Holiday Symbols, 2nd
by Sue Ellen Thompson
Omnigraphics, Inc. © 2000
"America Celebrates" by
Hennig Cohen and Tristram Potter Coffin
Visible Ink Press, Detroit, Michigan © 1991
"Go to the Distance" from Disney
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