Today is Columbus Day. While some are trying to erase history others want to celebrate it. Despite all the good, and bad, things that came from Christopher Columbus setting sail all those centuries ago, we today should at least remember what he did accomplish.
Columbus Day, like most holidays, is not steeped in historical fact, it’s about the myth. All those people running around dispelling the myth are missing the point. We know the TRUTH of the historical figure, history isn’t dead (as long as you leave it alone and stop trying to erase it) rather the truth is it’s just like Easter, Christmas, or even the 4th of July, we celebrate the myth, the legend, the story, not the man or the men who lived hundreds of years ago.
Every year on February 14th people who are in relationships buy cards, chocolates and flowers for their significant other. None of them are Roman citizens performing marriages ceremonies despite the law forbidding it. Most people don’t even know, or care, the historical truth behind Valentines Day, nor should they. We celebrate it as a day of LOVE, that is all. All of the symbols, the gifts, the rituals; these are just ways to show the people we love how important they are to us.
On Halloween kids dress up in costumes begging for candy. I am certain more than the VAST majority of them are not doing so to “ward off evil spirits” or to celebrate the dead in any way, shape or form. Most also don’t even believe in ghosts or spiritual forces yet they participate in the activities and celebrate the MYTH, or the idea of Halloween, not the actual “true meaning” or whatever that nonsense is. Same for Christmas, how many parents tell their kids to be good or else Santa Claus won’t bring them any presents? Now how many of them actually believe there is a magical elf king enslaving little elves forcing them to make toys for him. Oh, shoot, we celebrate the subjugation of elves if we celebrate Christmas. Darn it.
Looks like people just need to get over themselves and learn that Columbus Day celebrates the sense of DISCOVERY. It’s not about the actual truth or the consequences of those voyages, it’s just another way for us to wrap up an IDEA, in this case discovery, wonder, and exploration, around a semi-historical tale loosely based on real facts. Nobody cares that when we celebrate Christmas we don’t actually celebrate the Birth of Jesus at a historically accurate time of the year, or that we don’t remember the historical Saint Nicolas figure. Nor do we actually believe there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow with a little green leprechaun waiting to greet us on St. Patrick’s Day.
Why is it okay to ignore history on literally every single holiday, except Columbus Day? I for one think you should have your kids make little paper renditions of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. Tell them them the story, not the history but the STORY of the man who “discovered America” in a way that lets them know, it’s just a story, we exaggerate it because it’s another day to put aside our worries and just forget try to remember what it was like to be a kid exploring the world around you. Don’t take that sense of discovery, wonder, and curiosity away from your children. Not if you want them to actually grow up to become educated adults who question the world around them. Teach your kids the MUTH of Columbus Day and let them learn the real history when they go off to college and have to leave childhood behind. For now, just let them be kids.