- FUN FEATURES
We all know the rhyme "In 1492, Columbus sailed the Ocean blue."
But, as we celebrate Columbus Day this year, few people know much about the man himself, except for the fact that he is credited with discovering America.
Here are a few fun facts about Columbus and the day set aside to celebrate his discovery.
1.) Before the Spanish monarchy agreed to finance his journey of discovery, Columbus was rejected by the rulers of Portugal, Genoa, and Venice. In fact, Spanish nautical experts were skeptical of Columbus' plans initially, and any thought of a lengthy journey was put on hold as Spain battled Muslims. After the stronghold of Granada was defeated, however, Columbus' request was approved.
2.) Columbus landed in Cuba during his journey, and the story goes that natives of that country became upset with he and his comrades after a period of time. They decided to stop trading with Columbus and withheld food from he and his men.
Columbus, however, reportedly threatened to keep the moon from the Cuban inhabitants, and was subsequently helped by a lunar eclipse. The natives reportedly began trading with Columbus immediately afterwards.
3.) When Columbus saw the Cuban shores, he believed he had found the mainland of China, as he had originally believed he was sailing towards Asia.
4.) During his time on the island of Hispaniola, what is now the Dominican Republic, one of Columbus' ships, the Santa Maria, was wrecked. With the help of natives, Columbus and his crew were able to salvage much of the wreckage, and with the materials they helped build the settlement Villa de la Navidad ("Christmas Town"). Thirty-nine men stayed behind to occupy it.
5.) Only three states in the U.S. do not celebrate Columbus Day: Alaska, Hawaii and South Dakota. In Hawaii they celebrate Discoverer's Day in honor of the Polynesians who arrived in Hawaii, and in South Dakota Native American Day is celebrated.
6.) Columbus Day has been protested since the 19th century for a variety of reasons. Many anti-immigrant groups protested the holiday because of its association with Cathlocism. Native American groups have protested because of what they state was Columbus' mistreatment of native people during his journey, and the fact that his discovery indirectly led to colonization and the spread of deadly forms of diseases.
7.) Upon arriving in the Americas, Columbus introduced a variety of previously unseen items, including wheat, barley, rye, sugar, bananas, citrus fruits and horses.
8.) Colorado was the first state to make Columbus Day an official, legal holiday, and Denver still holds one of the largest Columbus Day parades each year.
9.) Columbus returned to the Caribbean islands a year later, still convinced he had found the outer islands of China.
10.) After his death, it's believed that Columbus' remains were moved at least five times. Currently, both the cities of Seville (Spain) and Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) claim to be the final resting place of Columbus.