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Columbus Day Fast and Interesting Facts

Here are some interesting tidbits on the 519th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the Americas.

For many, Columbus Day means little more than a three-day weekend. While a federal holiday, it is not typically celebrated or paraded in any particular way and three states do not even formally recognize it.

Yet, our country may not exist as it does today without the courage of the day's namesake.

So, in honor of Columbus and his holiday, here are some quick and interesting facts:

  • Columbus landed in the Bahamas for the first time on Oct. 12. The holiday, however, is always celebrated on the second Monday in October, even if that day is not the 12th.
  • Cowboys might do well to call Columbus their patron saint. After all, it was Columbus who introduced horses to the Americas. Technically, a breed of horses existed in the Americas beforehand but migrated away to other parts of the world. Until Columbus, Native Americans had not seen horses in thousands of years.
  • Called Columbus Day in the U.S., the holiday has several other names: "Discovery Day" in the Bahamas, "Día de las Americas" in Uruguay, "Día de la Hispanidad" in Europe, and "Día de la Raza" in Latin American countries.
  • Many think of Columbus' fleet as including three ships - the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. But, in truth, only two ships managed to make the full round trip. The Santa Maria was wrecked on Christmas Day in 1492.
  • Columbus Day first became a state holiday in 1906 in Colorado, and first became a federal holiday in 1937. However, three states (Hawaii, Alaska and South Dakota) do not recognize it at all.
  • Columbus' final resting place is unknown. He was buried and re-buried several times around the world, including in Spain and modern-day Haiti.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in October 2011.

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