Columbus and His Day

Columbus reaches the new world.
Columbus reaches the new world.

552 years ago today, in 1492, Columbus arrived in the Bahamas. Exactly three hundred years later, in 1792, America celebrated the first Columbus Day, in New York City. It’s been a public holiday ever since.

However, there’s an interesting anomaly in the dates. Columbus spotted the islands of the Bahamas before the new calendar was introduced to Europe — that is, the Gregorian calendar. He arrived in the Bahamas on October 12 of the Julian calendar. So, actually, the day he really stepped under the Bahamian palm trees was October 21, if you’re looking at a current calendar.

But the old Julian date is used. Why? In 1792, when the first Columbus day was celebrated, England and her colonies had switched to the Gregorian calendar (they switched in 1752). So Columbus Day should have been celebrated on October 21….

One of life’s little curiosities.


Scroll to Top