Amerigo Vespucci Day is observed on March 9 every year in the U.S. This day is to commemorate the discovery and evolution of the U.S. Americans celebrate this day with zeal, staging spectacular parades, educational events, and cultural competitions. Participate in the festivities and spend the holiday with your fellow citizens.
History of Amerigo Vespucci Day
On March 2, 1959, Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York declared this holiday. This day was set aside to commemorate Amerigo Vespucci’s birth anniversary on March 9. Rockefeller considered it vital to celebrate this day, as Vespucci gave his name to the two continents of America. He was one of the first Europeans to travel to the Western Hemisphere allowing the rest of the globe access to a new land.
The Governor proclaimed Vespucci as someone in whom everyone can take pride, regardless of where they came from. According to Rockefeller, Vespucci’s spirit is admirable and has an exceptional attraction. The mariner sailed all the way south down the coast of South America, facing unforeseen hurdles, at a time when going around the world was not a luxury. In his honor, Rockefeller urged the people of New York “to participate in all suitable observances of the occasion”.
This holiday was established to honor Vespucci and his contributions to American heritage and culture. Isn’t it amazing how a piece of the map gave our country global recognition and provided a home for thousands of people? Vespucci’s historic expedition in 1501 landed him at modern-day Rio de Janeiro. After returning home, he chose to keep track of his travels in the form of letters to his friend, Lorenzo Medici. We now have some evidence of his investigations and discoveries thanks to those letters.
Although many people credit Columbus with discovering America, it was Vespucci who affirmed the existence of a new land that was not part of Asia. Several folks proposed that Columbus Day be replaced by this holiday in order to honor the person who found our country.
Amerigo Vespucci Day timeline
Vespucci goes on a voyage across the Atlantic from the west coast of Africa, which takes around 24 days.
Inspired by Marco Polo’s investigations, Vespucci embarks on his most successful expedition down South America's coast, down to Patagonia, where he discovers Rio de Janeiro and Rio de la Planta.
Vespucci describes his discoveries in a letter to his friend Lorenzi Medici, in which he uses the name ‘New World’ for the first time.
In honor of Vespucci and his expeditions, the Italian Mint issues a five euro silver coin.
Amerigo Vespucci Day FAQs
Why is America named after Vespucci, rather than Columbus?
Although Columbus was the first to discover the American continent, he regarded it to be a part of South Asia. Later, Vespucci journeyed along the same route and wrote accounts on finding new lands. In fact, he recognized this new land as being on a separate continent.
What was Vespucci’s relationship like with the Native Americans?
Vespucci, unlike Columbus, did not seek to colonize the indigenous. He spent a significant amount of time with them to learn about their habits, lifestyle, and customs. However, on the other hand, he did engage in the slave trade and benefitted from it.
What was Vespucci’s actual purpose in exploring the Western Hemisphere?
Vespucci was a curious explorer. Besides, he had met with Columbus and learned of a new territory discovered by the latte during his expenditures. He set out to explore this new territory (which was still considered to be a part of Asia) and discovered that it is in fact a separate continent.
How to Celebrate Amerigo Vespucci Day
Join a parade
Doesn’t it sound fun? Throw in a beret and an Italian Cioppa over your regulars and you’re ready to march to the beat of drums amidst resonating cheers.
Read a bit of history
This Amerigo Vespucci Day, take some time out to read up on the adventures of this Italian explorer. Knowing a little about the legacy and true essence of this holiday might give it more meaning.
Enact in a play
How about directing a kids’ play on the life of Vespucci and enlightening them on the discoveries made by him? We think it’d be excitingly informative.
5 Interesting Facts About Amerigo Vespucci
Coined the term ‘New World’
Vespucci came up with the term ‘Mundus Novus’ (meaning ‘New World’) after discovering the new continents of America.
Chief navigator of Spain
In 1508, King Ferdinand had appointed Vespucci as the Pilot-Major of Spain and also authorized the explorer to establish a school of navigation where he modernized and standardized navigation techniques.
First to discover the mouth of Amazon
Vespucci is believed to be the first person to discover the mouth of the Amazon during his voyage to the south of Spain.
During one of his business trips to Seville in 1498, Vespucci met Columbus and even assisted him in preparing for his third voyage.
Service at Portugal
On his return to Spain following his first voyage, Vespucci proposed to go on a new expedition across the Indian Ocean, which was rejected by the Spanish government — as a result, he chose to serve Portugal instead.
Why We Love Amerigo Vespucci Day
Founded a method to determine longitude
While being anchored by the east coast of South America, Vespucci first measured longitude using conjunctions. At moonrise, he estimated that the moon was a degree and several minutes east of Mars and it turned out accurate.
Discovered two continents
If not for Vespucci, the American continents wouldn’t have had their current names and who knows, might have taken years to be known to the world. He was the first to recognize America as two distinct continents rather than an extension of Asia.
Being one of the first Europeans to have traveled as far as Cape St. Augustine in the Western Hemisphere, Vespucci has left quite a legacy behind. He was undoubtedly one of the greatest Italian mariners who gave rise to a new era of freedom.
Amerigo Vespucci Day dates