Many countries in the New World and elsewhere celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas, which occurred on October 12, 1492 in the Julian calendar and October 21, 1492 in the modern Gregorian calendar, as an official holiday. The day is celebrated as Columbus Day in the United States, as Día de la Raza in many countries in the Americas, as Día de las Culturas (Day of the Cultures) in Costa Rica, as Discovery Day in the Bahamas, as Día de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional in Spain and as Día de las Américas (Day of the Americas) in Uruguay. These holidays have been celebrated unofficially since the late 18th century, and officially in various countries since the early 20th century.
In the US, Columbus Day first became an official state holiday in Colorado in 1906, and became a federal holiday in 1934. However, people have celebrated Columbus' voyage since the colonial period. In 1792, New York City and other U.S. cities celebrated the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World. In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to celebrate Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event. During the 400-year anniversary in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day rituals to teach ideals of patriotism. These patriotic rituals were framed around themes such as support for war, citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation, and celebrating social progress.
Since 1971, the holiday has been fixed in the US to the second Monday in October, coincidentally the same day as Thanksgiving in neighboring Canada (which was fixed to that date in 1959). It is generally observed today by banks, the bond market, the U.S. Postal Service and other federal agencies, most state government offices, and some school districts. Most businesses and some stock exchanges remain open, however, and there is a trend among some states and municipalities away from observing the holiday. (From: Wikipedia, license: CCA-SA)