Columbus is a US federal holiday commemorating the date when Christopher Columbus first set foot in the Americas. In the United States, Columbus day is observed on the second Monday in October.
Though Columbus Day is one of the ten US legal federal holidays, it is not considered a major one. On Columbus Day, however, there is no postal service.
It is a Federal Reserve Bank holiday, so while banks may be open, some transactions will not be processed. Most businesses remain open, and retail stores may run special sales.
In addition to a state level, in many cities, the day is now celebrated as Native Americans’ Day or Indigenous People’s Day. In Hawaii, Discovery Day is celebrated on the 2nd Monday in October, in recognition of the Polynesian discoverers of the Hawaiian Islands.
Columbus’ voyages across the Atlantic Ocean initiated the European exploration and colonization of the Americas.
While the first voyage in 1492 was immensely significant, Columbus did not actually reach the American mainland until his third voyage in 1498. Instead, while trying to find a sea route to India, he made landfall on an island in the Bahamas that he named San Salvador. While there, there had been celebrations in 1792, to mark the 300th anniversary. Columbus Day was first officially proclaimed by President Benjamin Harrison in 1892, to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the Bahamas. The proclamation said, “On the anniversary, let the people, so far as possible, cease from toil and devote themselves to such exercises as may best express honor to the discoverer, and to show their appreciation of the great achievements of the four completed centuries of American life.”
With a large Italian immigrant population at the time, Colorado was the first US state to make Columbus Day an official holiday. Franklin Roosevelt established the first federal observance of Columbus Day in 1937. Since 1971, the holiday has been celebrated on the second Monday in October.
- 1792 – The first Columbus Day celebration was organized by The Society of St. Tammany and held in New York City (300th anniversary of Columbus’ landing).
- 1892 – President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation establishing a celebration of Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing.
- April 7th, 1907 – Colorado became the first state to declare Columbus Day a legal holiday.
- 1920 – Columbus Day begins being celebrated annually.
- October 12th, 1937 – First federal observance of Columbus Day, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt
- 1971 – Columbus Day became a legal federal holiday in the United States. A Presidential Proclamation states that the observance of Columbus Day is always on the second Monday in October.
The largest celebration of Columbus Day is in New York City, which hosts a huge parade. Communities with large Italian American populations may hold special Columbus Day festivities.
In Little Rhody, the Federal Hill Commerce Association is excited to celebrate the 31st Annual Columbus Day Festival on historic Federal Hill, from Friday, October 6th – Sunday, October 9th, 2023. The festival takes place from Dean Street to Sutton Street, along Atwells Avenue.
The Association is excited to welcome back and feature the La Cucina Galbani Cooking Stage located at America Street and Atwells Avenue.
Take the entire family to celebrate, be entertained, and to indulge, with over 80 food, art, and retail vendors, along with games and amusement rides. Listen to live entertainment on four different stages throughout the festival grounds.
Federal Hill is home of some of the best Italian food in the world. Experience the flavors of over 25 Federal Hill restaurants that offer expanded seating, and will feature special menu items throughout the weekend. A small sampling of participants includes Bacco Vino & Contorni, Trattoria Appia, Venda Ravioli, Saje Kitchen, Saint, Providence Oyster Bar, Don Joses, and OURS.
The festival date and times are:
- Friday, October 6th, from 5 pm until midnight.
- Saturday to Sunday, October 7th – 8th, from 11 am – midnight.
- Monday, October 9th, from 11 am – 8 pm
On all four days of the Festival, Dean Street to Sutton Street, along Atwells Avenue, will be closed to vehicle traffic.
This year’s Opening Ceremony will take place at 12 noon on Saturday, October 7th, at the DePasquale Plaza stage. The honorees this year are: Grand Marshall – Gene Valicenti – NBC 10, Vincent A. Cianci Civic Award – Peter Carvalhal, Legacy Award – Chris Morris – Antonellis Poultry and Federal Hill Foodie Ambassador – Barbi Jo DiMaria – 92 ProFM.
This year’s annual Columbus Day Festival Parade will take place on Sunday, October 8th, at 11:00 am. The parade route is from Knight Street to Bradford Street, along Atwells Avenue. This entire section of the avenue will be closed to vehicles during the parade time.
Fun Fact: In Little Rhody, Providence was ranked among the Top 5 Little Italy neighborhoods in the country, along with Boston, San Diego, New York, and Philadelphia.