I need to start this by flagging one thing: I was born in Australia and have lived in Australia my whole life until January 2017 when I moved to the US. I mean this post to be helpful and informative to Australians and others who are new to this country, and if I offend or get my facts in any way wrong, please do let me know so I can correct them.

Columbus Day, in recent years, has become a contentious topic of debate. For Australians, you will understand this debate well because it is very similar to our very own issues surrounding Australia Day and its celebration.

 

Columbus Day

Columbus Day marks the day that Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas. This does however also, therefore, coincide  with the beginning of the enslavement and the genocide of native Americans (sound familiar?).

This is why it is still a holiday that is presented in calendars across the US, but many businesses choose to work through and give holidays to staff on other significant days like Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 15, 2018) instead.

Also of note is the fact that many states and cities celebrate a form of “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” on the same date as a means of countering the celebrating of Columbus.

So what does this mean for you? Well there is a good chance that you will be working on Monday, 9th October 2017, and it’s important that you are aware of the implications of wishing someone a “Happy Columbus Day”!

Cheat sheet (a very general rule that differs in every state):

  • Some banks are closed;
  • Some, but not all businesses will give their staff an option or close;
  • Schools are closed;
  • No mail delivery;
  • Government-run things closed.