Happy Columbus Day! Today we celebrate all things Italian including the “discoverer” of America, Christopher Columbus. See the funniest memes here.
In the United States, it first became a state holiday in Colorado in 1905 thanks to the lobbying of Angelo Noce, a first generation Italian living in Denver. Similar lobbying by Italians made it a federal holiday in 1937. Many Italians observe the day as a celebration of Italian heritage, while other Americans view it as the “discovery” of America.
In recent decades, the holiday has become increasingly controversial with the rise of the alternative Indigenous People’s Day. Not to be outdone, the date is also that of Leif Erikson Day, which celebrates the Viking Erikson’s arrival in the Americas 500 years before Columbus.
Italian-Americans view Columbus Day as a celebration of Italian-American heritage.
Until the late 20th century, Italian-Americans faced racism in the United States and Columbus Day’s inception in Denver in 1905 was hoped to be an acceptance of Italian culture in the New World. However, in the 1911 Dillingham report, created by the United States Immigration Commission, Italians were described as “inherently criminal” by the government.
According to the New York Times, “The Immigration Act of 1924 barred most Italians from coming into the country — causing immigration from Italy to fall 90 percent.”
Despite this, much of Italian culture is celebrated today as American.
See the funniest Columbus Day memes here: