It depends on where you are. Columbus day is a public holiday in the majority of states (on average 35/50), but not observed in others. Therefore it’s important to check your state’s policy before not showing up to work on Monday!
When Did Columbus Day Become a Holiday
Americans have been celebrating Columbus Day since the late 18th century. The practice became widespread when Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901) urged Americans to honor the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s landing, although the day was only made statutory in 1907—thanks to the efforts of Italian-American campaigner Angelo Noce.
Significance and Controversy
For many Italian-Americans, Columbus day is an unofficial celebration of their heritage and contributions to America’s success. It is often marked with parades and displays of civic pride.
But the day is not without its critics. Columbus Day has met backlash from the 19th century onwards, when it was associated with waves of Catholic immigrants. Anti-Catholic organizations, like the KKK and Know Nothings, believed celebrating Christopher Columbus would increase the Church’s influence in what was then a predominately Protestant country.
Today, however, critiques are levied against the figure of Columbus himself—who enslaved, exploited, and infected the indigenous populations he “discovered.”