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5 Ways to Celebrate Columbus Day with Kids

5 Ways to Celebrate Columbus Day with Kids - Columbia SC Moms BlogMy mom was a banker. Odd federal holidays were unexpected three-day weekend treats and I enjoyed them.

Chances are good that you’re not getting a three-day weekend this October, though. Some states don’t even continue to recognize the second Monday of this month as Columbus Day. It’s quite a controversy. (So is most of history.)

But moms, you’re no stranger to controversy. Let’s quick divide and conquer this thing. All Mondays need something to celebrate. This one still has so much to offer us.

What is, or Was, Columbus Day?

Columbus Day commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World on October 12, 1492. The History Channel’s website describes it as a way of both honoring Columbus’ achievements and celebrating Italian-American heritage. The celebration began in several cities as early as the 18th century, eventually becoming a federal holiday in 1937.

Why is Columbus Day so Controversial?

There are lots of misconceptions I gained from a kindergarten storytelling of Columbus’ discovery of America. Yes, many already knew the world was round. No, Columbus didn’t actually land in America. But primarily, I didn’t hear that millions were deprived of their culture, land, and lives when Europe arrived. Indigenous Peoples’, or Native Americans Day is the alternative celebration.

Ways to Honor Both

  1. Look at maps and touch a globe. How can you not talk about all the places when you’re discussing these historical people. Track the voyage from Europe to America. See where you live in relation to where he first landed. Talk about who already lived where. Discuss what prompted the voyage. Where did Columbus want to go and why did he want to go there?
  2. Choose good books. Every event has a variety of perspectives. You’ll find dozens of books about Columbus. I like the fun-filled facts of You Wouldn’t Want to Sail with Christopher Columbus!  But you’ll also find books from Native Americans viewpoints. Encounter imagines a Taino Indian boy’s dream of visitors that destroy his people. It’s a harsh message told in beautiful language. Read several books as a family to get a fuller understanding of history.
  3. Open up your spice rack. Columbus was looking for a trade route. Do your children know about spices? It sounds so foreign, pun intended, to us, as our world has shrunk. Most of us forget many spices on our grocery shelves today still come from foreign lands. Let your children open those jars and smell a few of your spices. Then make a batch of cookies and tea.
  4. Visit a local museum. Do you know which groups of Native Americans lived near your hometown? My first visit to USC’S McKissick Museum opened my eyes to those who had and still live near me. You may be able to see relics and current photographs. You may find that you know some Native Americans. You may decide to research your own genealogy.
  5. Take a trip. I’m thinking this weekend would be a great time to rent a canoe or a kayak. You could imagine you lived like those Columbus met. Of course, the following weekend you could take a road trip and see the bigger boats. Georgetown’s Wooden Boat Show might inspire you, too.

What do you remember about Columbus Day lessons?

Are you enjoying a long weekend? Which will you emphasize at your house?

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