By Paul Goldfinger
Columbus Day, a Federal holiday, celebrates Christopher Columbus. He gets a day, but Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson do not. What’s the story? Columbus wasn’t even an American. In New York City, Columbus Day celebrates Italian-Americans, but how come Irish-Americans or Native-Americans don’t get a Federal Holiday?
New Year’s Day is a holiday as are Christmas and Thanksgiving, but Easter is not.
Veterans get two holidays: Memorial Day and Veterans Day
According to the official list of Federal holidays (5 U.S.C. 6103), which relates to when Federal government workers get a holiday, only three of them are named for individuals: Martin Luther King , George Washington and Christopher Columbus. Granted some states use different names (e.g., President’s Day), but the law says “George Washington.”
America gets one holiday, Independence Day, while workers get one holiday — Labor Day.
Perhaps it’s time to make some changes. Let’s have one Federal holiday for all the explorers who discovered America including Columbus, Leif Erikson and the Vikings, the Phoenicians and even the Chinese who, it is said, sold egg rolls to Chris’ crew in 1492.
So how about a resolution in Neptune Township to give their workers off for Explorers’ Day, October 8? That would give us a lot more to celebrate, and a wider variety of holiday foods. But who knows what the Phoenicians ate? I guess maybe it was matzoh ball soup, a delicacy the Hebrews adopted when they invaded Phoenicia. It’s too bad the Hebrews didn’t find America. Moses’ birthday would have become a Federal Holiday — or maybe Woody Allen’s birthday.
Editor’s note: The Federal holidays are: New Years Day, Christmas Day, Veterans Day, Columbus Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King Day, Washington’s Birthday and Independence Day
SOUNDTRACK: Columbus was Italian, but it was the Spaniards who financed and approved the voyage of Columbus. Actually, he had first gone to the Portuguese, but they rejected him. It’s like Google getting rejected by a venture capitalist and finally landing in the office of a smart investor – -in this case, Queen Isabella.
So the Italians get the credit for Columbus, but really it was the Spanish crown that should get the credit, and thus our choice of Spanish music below.
By the way, when Columbus returned to Spain, it is reported that the Queen said to him, “Get your hands off me, Columbus; you discovered enough for one day.”
From the soundtrack of “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (Woody Allen) is “Granada” by Emilio de Benito: