How to celebrate Columbus Day in the United States

Putting it bluntly, we don’t recommend celebrating Columbus Day. The premise of the holiday is based on some terrible acts that we now know better than to support. But let’s talk about what that is, why some states have changed the holiday, and how you can celebrate the weekend.

Christopher Columbus was the Italian explorer who lead the first European expeditions to Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, leading to the European colonization of the Americas. In which lies the problem. During his travels, Columbus promoted slavery, had a role in the extinction of the Taíno people and had allegations of tyranny towards the Spanish colonists. Not to mention what the European colonization did to the existing inhabitants of the Americas.

We acknowledge that some argue we should just celebrate the good parts because that’s how it’s always been done. However, there’s a growing backlash in the community and do you want your brand associated with slavery?

Columbus Day is a federally observed holiday, and 21 states have chosen to have their own celebrations, instead highlighting indigenous people. Only government departments and banks are likely to close. Some schools choose to locally, but it’s a very low-key celebration. Generally, it is a safer bet to position your brand’s messaging for Native Americans Day or Indigenous Peoples Day (and the second name is better than the first) if you choose to celebrate at all.

If you do choose to celebrate, something acknowledging the First People would work on social media. It is low-key. No sales or promotions; that would be inappropriate. If you have a local trade market area, you could help promote your city’s ceremonies and events, if they have them. A credit union in Seattle is using the day for their organization’s day of service with all their team volunteering in a community project. Or you could just skip it, and that’s OK too.

 

 

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Photo by Evelyn Paris on Unsplash

Bianca Smith

Bianca is a freelance digital marketer in Seattle. She works with clients big and small, in the US and Australia, on digital marketing, branding, event communications, social media and website content.

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