Happy Columbus Day

Today is Columbus Day. Not only that, this year Columbus Day falls on the actual day that Columbus discovered America, October 12, rather than just a three-day-weekend Monday in October. The Europeans have now know about what they called the New World for 517 years. This day is now celebrated by saying that Columbus really didn’t discover America, since the Native Americans were already here, and by saying that his discovering America was a bad thing. The mood seems to be not to celebrate it, except that there is no way federal workers would give up a three-day weekend. Is there any way of rehabilitating this holiday?

One thing we can all do, though, is fight the myth that in Columbus’s day people thought the earth was flat. In the Middle Ages and going back through the time of the Greeks, it was common knowledge that the earth was a sphere. It was the Enlightenment, which sought to discredit the past, that came up with the myth (along with others, such as confusing “the Dark Ages” with the “Middle Ages”). See this classic post for evidence.

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