Monday, October 12, 2009

It's Columbus Day!

If you were expecting to get something important in the mail today, you can forget about that because the post office is taking the day off.  Also some other people get the day off, but not everybody does.  The reason for this is that it's Columbus Day, which is a holiday that some people celebrate and some people don't, which is pretty confusing.  In my opinion, if there is a holiday, everybody ought to get the day off, period.  Mom gets the day off, but she's retired, so she gets every day off!

Okay, now I will tell you what I learned about Columbus Day after doing extensive research for 15 minutes or so on Wikipedia.  A long time ago, there was this man named Christopher Columbus, and he was from a place called Genoa, which is in Italy.  But even though he was Italian, this lady named Isabella, who happened to be the Queen of Spain, hired him to sail three little dinky ships all the way across the ocean to the Indies.  In those days, they called anyplace in Asia "the Indies," even if it was really supposed to be called China or India or Japan.  And the mainmost reason for going to the Indies was to get spices and silk and stuff like that which they didn't have in Europe.

Before this, the Europeans always went by land to the Indies, which took a really long time because trains and semis hadn't been invented yet.  But Mr. Columbus had this idea that he could just go to the East by sailing west across the Ocean Sea, which is what they used to call the Atlantic.  Queen Isabella thought this would be a cool thing to do and that Spain could then get rich by selling spices, so she hired Christopher Columbus to go across the ocean and check it out, which he was glad to do.

The only problem was that he thought the Ocean Sea was way smaller than it really is.  But he kept on sailing and sailing and sailing, and finally he got to where he was going.  Except he didn't really.  Instead, he discovered America.  But he didn't really discover America because this other guy, Leif Eriksson, had been there earlier.  And there were already a whole bunch of people living there anyway, and they knew America was there, so it didn't really need to be discovered.

But in spite of all this, we now have a holiday to celebrate the day when Mr. Columbus discovered America.  Except, like I said before, not everybody celebrates this holiday.  For instance, the trash trucks will still pick up our trash on Thursday instead of a day later, like happens when there is a real holiday.

Columbus Day was made into a Federal Holiday in 1934.  At that time, it was on October 12, which was the exact day in 1492 that Columbus discovered America without actually meaning to.  Nowadays Columbus Day is on the second Monday of October, which is also the same day as Thanksgiving in Canada.  This is kind of crazy because everyone knows that Thanksgiving is supposed to be on a Thursday so that you can also get Friday off and have a 4-day weekend.  But leave it to the Canadians to do it all wrong!

Anyway, getting back to the story of Christopher Columbus, the most important question is whether he had any dogs with him on his voyage in the three little boats.  I am sad to say that Wikipedia does not answer this question.  Maybe someday I can do more research and discover the answer, like Mr. Columbus discovered America.  I just don't want to find out that the sailors got so hungry that they ate their dogs, which I am afraid is what might have happened.  So maybe it's better not to know these things.

Christopher Columbus died in 1506.  He was 55 years old when he died, which is 385 in dog years.  It's possible that nobody ever even told him that he had discovered America.  And another thing no one told him was that he would someday have a holiday named after him.  This is kind of sad, if you ask me.  Also nobody knows exactly what Mr. Columbus looked like, although that didn't prevent people from painting pictures of him.  So he might have looked like this:

Or like this:

But we will never really know.  Also we will never know if he had a dog or not, but I hope he had one, and I hope he didn't get so hungry that he had to eat it!


  1. Hey Piper - good job; thanks for reminding me it's Columbus Day. Since being "retired" I get a bit lazy about the "days." Having worked at a bank for a number of years....I ALWAYS knew the holidays!! Again, have a good week w/your Aunt Cheryl.