The Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria (image: dean_crilley)
Americans have been celebrating Columbus Day for over 200 years, with the first documented celebration on record October 12, 1792. Columbus is credited with discovering the Americas, albeit accidentally in his search for a western route from Europe to India. Young students in the US learn all about Christopher Columbus and his three ships: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.
Although Spain funded Columbus’s expeditions, the explorer was a native Italian. As such, modern Columbus Day honors Italian Americans and the strong ties between the US and Italy. New York City throws one of the largest celebrations with a parade along 5th Avenue, and plenty of amazing Italian food I’m sure.
As a national holiday, banks, bond markets, federal agencies and some school districts are closed on Columbus Day. There is also no mail service. However, the stock exchanges continue to operate business as usual.
For more on Christopher Columbus, including the controversy around the holiday, click here.