Today in 1492, the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus made landfall in the Americas. This achievement – creating a viable sailing route to the Americas and opening the new world – is celebrated every year on a holiday that bears his name.
Columbus Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October. This year, the government holiday falls on Monday, October 12th.
The first celebration of Columbus Day in the United States occurred in 1792, when a group of leaders in New York held an event to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the historic landing of the explorer. Similar events continued during the year until 1892, when President Benjamin Harrison made an announcement Asking Americans to celebrate Columbus during a holiday in which they “stop toiling and devote themselves to such exercises that may best express the honor of the discoverer and their appreciation for the great achievements of the four completed centuries of American life.”
President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared Columbus Day a national holiday in 1937. It was originally celebrated every October 12th but was changed to the second Monday in October starting in 1971 by the Single Monday Holiday Act.
Today is not without controversy. In recent years, Native Americans and other groups have protested the idea of celebrating an event marking the beginning of the colonization of the Americas and the displacement of indigenous people. Columbus Day has been replaced by other holidays in some areas, including Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, and South Dakota, which celebrate Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Alabama today celebrates three holidays
The state of Alabama officially celebrates the day as a three-day holiday today: Columbus Day, American Indian Heritage Day, and Brotherhood Day.
Alabama, home to nine recognized tribal governments, first celebrated American Indian Heritage Day in 2000. The celebrations aim to “honor the indigenous people of Alabama, their contributions to their homeland and their passion for preserving Indo-American culture and history a vital part of Alabama state officials said last year.”
Sibling Day is unique in the state of Alabama.
The day was celebrated for the first time in 1915 on the second Thursday in October. It was meant to be a time to honor the work of the fraternal organizations and the Alabama legislature later ordered that it coincide with the Columbus holiday. The holiday focused not only on traditional fraternal organizations, such as the Freemasons, but also veteran groups and other clubs.
Here’s a look at what was opened and what was closed for Columbus Day 2020:
- Federal offices are closed. Columbus Day is the seventh of 10 federal holidays in 2020, with Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas still remaining.
- Most banks and credit unions are closed, so check with your local branch.
- The US Post will not deliver mail, and post offices are closed.
- UPS and FedEx are open.
- Alabama offices and courts are closed; Columbus Day is one of 13 public holidays.
- Many county and city offices remain open. Birmingham City, Huntsville City and Mobile City are open.
- Almost all schools are open on Columbus Day.
- Redstone Arsenal and Marshall Space Flight Centers are closed. Gates will be accessed based on holiday / weekend schedule.
- ABC stores are open.
- Stock markets (NYSE and Nasdaq) are open.
- Restaurants, Malls, and Cinemas – Almost all restaurants, malls and cinemas are open.
- National parks are open.
- Most libraries will be closed.
- Most of the stores and restaurants will open.
- The groceries will open.
- The garbage collection and recycling schedule may change. Check with your local service provider for service changes.
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