Many countries celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas, which occurred on October 12, 1492. In the United States, Columbus Day is observed on the second Monday in October. For information on how and when other countries celebrate “Columbus Day,” click here.


A common misconception is that Christopher Columbus discovered America. However, he never actually came close to landing on what is now called the United States. He “discovered” the Bahamas and the island that is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In fact, John Cabot, an English explorer, landed on Newfoundland around 1497, and paved the way for England’s colonization of North America. Since, at this time, early America was fighting with England, colonists turned to the Spanish Columbus as their hero. Hence, Columbus Day.


  • Hawaii, Alaska and South Dakota do not recognize Columbus Day at all. Instead, Hawaii celebrates Discoverers’ Day (to commemorate when the Polynesian discovered Hawaii), and South Dakota celebrates “Native American Day,” celebrating the heritage of the Native American tribes.
  • Christopher Columbus thought he had discovered islands off the coast of Asia when he arrived in, what is now, the Caribbean and Latin America.
  • The District of Columbia is named in honor of Christopher Columbus.

Celebrating Suggestions

  • In preparation for the three-day holiday weekend, stock up and staff up for a busy Monday!
  • As this is a three-day holiday weekend for many and early in the Autumn, consider hosting some type of Autumn Festival or celebration, like a Beer Festival or Taste of Fall event.
  • As the celebration of Columbus Day is somewhat controversial, try and keep anything in-store to a general patriotic theme, as opposed to heralding Christopher Columbus himself.

Check out our Marketing Holiday Calendar for more dates to celebrate!