Thursday, October 13

The History of Columbus Day Revisited

The holiday season is upon us and was successfully launched by the season opener — Columbus Day. Who doesn’t love Columbus Day with all of its pageantry and tradition?
Every year, I like to pause and reflect on the traditions, history and true meaning of each holiday. Columbus Day is steeped in meaningful tradition including bank closures and even bank drive-thru closures.
The history of Columbus Day is a completely fabricated story surrounding some loosely connected facts. Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 and discovered a land mass already inhabited by people. His boat landed somewhere off the coast of southern Florida, probably on an island in the Caribbean.
But why get bogged down in the details? One thing’s for sure, he definitely didn’t land anywhere in the domestic U.S., the only country where Columbus Day is celebrated — other countries have somewhat similar festivals, but nothing devoted solely to Columbus.
After his sojourn at the beautiful island with the friendly people and fresh fruit, Columbus went home and told all the important people he knew and anyone else that would listen about his discovery. His self-promotion and public relations campaign puts Kim Kardashian to shame. He convinced everyone that he was one of the greatest explorers of all time and that his discovery was historical (a new and revised version of history). Columbus definitely didn’t persuade people with endless gifts from the new world (which may or may not have been stolen from the tribes people in the Caribbean).
Then, Amerigo Vespucci, a so-called “friend” of Columbus, set out like a Kardashian sister to build his own platform of fame and fortune. He commenced his own expedition and discovered another inhabited land mass, possibly on the East Coast of North America but more likely South America. Without Facebook or a TV, Vespucci was forced to be creative with his discovery advertisement. He began by crafting copious letters that eloquently detailed the beauty of the land that he branded “the new world.” He mailed the letters to all the important people he knew and anyone else that would read them, including Matthias Ringmann, who just so happened to be an editor.
Oddly enough, Ringmann was at that very moment working on a geography book with a cartographer, Martin Waldseemuller. What a fortunate coincidence. History says that Ringmann and Waldseemuller found Vespucci’s eloquent writing so compelling that when they depicted “the new world” on the map they decided to name it America after Amerigo Vespucci. Vespucci definitely didn’t give them any money or bribe them in anyway. Ringmann and Waldseemuller of their own accord decided to name two gigantic land masses after a guy they barely knew.
It has been documented in multiple places that Columbus died and never knew that history has attributed him with discovering America. Additionally, it has also been written as fact that Vespucci didn’t know that the new world would be named “America” after him.
It must be assumed that Columbus didn’t know that North and South America had been discovered (or visited) thousands of years previous by both the Chinese and Vikings. Likewise, Vespucci presumably didn’t realize that the residents of “the new world” already had a name for the place where they lived.
Amerigo Vespucci’s name was branded forever and history was rewritten to crown Christopher Columbus discoverer of America. You won’t find it written anywhere but it sure looks like Vespucci and Columbus struck a deal to me.

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