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Columbus Day

Ottobre 2013
Il 12 ottobre per gli americani è Columbus Day, la festa per celebrare la scoperta dell’America. Cristoforo Colombo in realtà non si rese mai conto di aver scoperto un nuovo continente, tant’è che questo prende il nome da un altro esploratore (Amerigo Vespucci). Benvenuti alla festa italo-americana per eccellenza!

di George H. Limongi

File audio:

The Santa Maria, San Francisco 2011
The Santa Maria, San Francisco 2011
The Columbus Parade on New York's, Fifth Avenue
The Columbus Parade on New York's, Fifth Avenue

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

Five hundred and twenty-one years ago, on October 12th, 1492, a Genoese explorer and navigator called Christopher Columbus arrived in a new land. He thought he had reached the East Indies, but actually he discovered a whole new continent.  Nowadays everywhere in North, Central and South America, people celebrate this holiday mostly known as “Columbus Day.”


In the 1400s explorers were looking for alternative ways to arrive in Asia. The usual route traveling east, which they had used until then, was too long and becoming more and more dangerous. Christopher Columbus wanted to prove the Earth was round, so he convinced Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon to support him on an innovative expedition that would reach the East Indies by sailing west. Christopher Columbus never realised he had reached a whole new world. In fact, Amerigo Vespucci was the first to understand it, so America took its name from him.


Every year in America people celebrate this event. This holiday is called “Columbus Day” in the United States, but there are variations to this name: “Día de la Raza” (“the Day of Ethnic Groups”) in many countries in Latin America, “Discovery Day” in the Bahamas, “Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural” in Argentina, “Day of the Americas” in Belize and Uruguay.


At first people celebrated this holiday unofficially in many different ways, but in 1892, on Columbus Day’s 400th anniversary, President Benjamin Harrison made it an official event. In this way teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day as a symbol of loyalty to the nation and social progress.


Every year New Yorkers get together and march in “The Annual Columbus Day Parade” on Fifth Avenue. You can see more than 35,000 marchers, over 100 groups, including bands, floats and contingents. Nearly one million spectators! Fifth Avenue is transformed during the Columbus Day Parade, the world’s largest celebration of Italian-American culture. Participants from all over the world march in this Parade with pride. The Columbus Day Parade has become a globally televised event with millions of viewers. If you happen to be in New York City around that time, go and have a look! 

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