9 Columbus Day Quotes That Make You Wonder Why We Celebrate This Holiday At All
I don't understand Columbus Day. Most people don't get the day off from work, no one passes out candy, and from a historical point of view, this whole "discovering America" claim to fame Columbus has going for him isn't even that factually accurate. He may have sailed the ocean blue in 1492, but as these Columbus Day quotes painfully bring into view, the whole idea behind celebrating Columbus Day is kind of bogus.
Most people probably haven't given much thought to the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria since sixth grade history class, so allow me to refresh your memory. More than 500 years ago, Columbus, an Italian explorer, "discovered" the New World during a voyage sponsored by King Ferdinand of Spain. He made it over to the Americas sure enough, but spoiler: he didn't exactly find America. Instead, he landed in the Bahamas — and brought with him a whole host of devastating European diseases like small pox that threatened to nearly obliterate native populations. (Oh, and for those of you keeping track, Viking Leif Erikson had already landed in present-day Newfoundland several centuries before Columbus, meaning Columbus wasn't really the first to discover anything.) But whatevs — Columbus' legacy is one that Americans have been celebrating since the 1700s. Columbus Day became an official federal holiday in 1937, and since the '70s has been observed every year on the second Monday of October.
Fast forward to present day, and it's worth noting that there has been a move to get rid of the holiday on a local level, with some cities voting to observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of Columbus Day. It's seen as a controversial move by some, but given the questionable history behind this day of observance, now is the perfect time to wonder if we're celebrating Columbus Day for all the wrong reasons. Here are nine quotes that prove just how irrelevant Columbus Day really is.
1. "Christopher Columbus, as everyone knows, is honored by posterity because he was the last to discover America." — James Joyce
2. "If Columbus had an advisory committee he would probably still be at the dock." — Arthur Goldberg
3. "I also hate those holidays that fall on a Monday where you don't get mail, those fake holidays like Columbus Day. What did Christopher Columbus do, discover America? If he hadn't, somebody else would have and we'd still be here. Big deal." — John Waters
4. “Perhaps, after all, America never has been discovered. I myself would say that it had merely been detected.” — Oscar Wilde
5. "America's one of the finest countries anyone ever stole." — Bobcat Goldthwait
6. "What a pity, when Christopher Columbus discovered America, that he ever mentioned it." — Margot Asquith
7. "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." — Marcel Proust
8. "Columbus only discovered that he was in some new place. He didn't discover America." — Louise Erdrich
9. "As soon as I arrived in the Indies, in the first island which I found, I took some of the natives by force, in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts. And so it was that they soon understood us, and we them, either by speech or by signs, and they have been very serviceable." — Christopher Columbus
Taking natives by force? Columbus, we're through.
Images: Getty; Giphy (3)