Americans will once again get together to honor Christopher Columbus with the closing of schools, major sales on cars and furniture, and parades, continuing the yearly tradition of celebrating one man’s effort to shorten his daily commute.
Though not an official U.S. holiday until 1937, celebrants agree that there is no holiday that captures the American spirit better than Columbus Day.
“He discovered the New World” said professional Columbus reenactor Blaine Desmond. “Yes, by accident, but it was because he was sick of the travel time to India and wanted to shave a few minutes off his travel time. What’s more American than that?
Columbus’ famous journey began in 1492, after Columbus was tired of the daily grind of the long ride to India and back just to make a trade. In an effort to shorten his commute by a few minutes so that he could have time to squeeze in a visit to the gym, Columbus sailed west, thinking that the back roads to India would save some time. While his journey may have failed to reach India, he did succeed in reaching the Western Hemisphere, and opening up a new period of exploration.
To this day, school children are still reminded about Columbus’ journey through the following poem:
In fourteen hundred ninety two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue
His attempts to skip rush hour
Helped bring about a new world power
As in every year, Americans will have a wide choice of ways to celebrate Columbus Day. Two of the most anticipated celebrations are the New York City Columbus Day Parade and the Denver Columbus Day Parade. In addition, federal government workers have honored Columbus Day by skipping work every day this month.