If there’s one thing Americans love more than working for the weekend, it’s working for those precious three-day holiday weekends. From kicking off summer with Memorial Day to saying goodbye on Labor Day, we can’t wait to look at the calendar to plan our next three-day holiday weekend. Which begs the question: When did Columbus Day in October become just another Monday? But a more important question: Should we get Columbus Day off?
Yeah, yeah, if you work for the federal government, banks, etc. then you’re already among the privileged who receive paid time off for this American holiday. But if one thing is certain – depending on where you live and what your job is – Columbus Day is one of the most inconsistently celebrated holidays in the country. According to the Council of State Governments’ Book of States, there are only 23 states (plus the District of Columbia – fitting right?) who get Columbus Day off as a paid holiday. And the inconsistency doesn’t stop there, here’s a look at how a few other states choose to honor the “on” or “off” holiday.
Although Columbus Day will be nationally recognized on October 13, 2014, Tennessee (at the Governor’s discretion) celebrates the day as the Friday after Thanksgiving. Hey, better late than never, right?
Rather than refer to the man himself – probably for political reasons – Hawaii celebrates Discoverer’s Day, but even still, it’s not an official state holiday.
Taking a different route and paying homage to its indigenous roots, South Dakota marks the second Monday in October as Native American’s Day – an official state holiday.
It appears that the Centennial State has always been on the progressive edge. Nearly 100 years ago, Colorado became the first state to declare Columbus Day a state holiday, in large part through the efforts of Angelo Noce, who relished the dream of honoring his fellow Italian founder, Cristoforo Colombo.
Nevada & Iowa
Statutes in these two states don’t appoint Columbus Day a legal holiday but do “encourage” the governor to issue an annual Columbus Day proclamation. Fingers crossed the current governor likes to celebrate the holiday.
Day Off or Just Another Day? Where Do You Stand?
So now that you’ve got the scoop on who has Columbus Day off and the incredible discrepancy of Columbus Day celebrations across the U.S., where does the argument of whether or not your company should get the day off reside?
Well, we all know the story of Columbus sailing west in hopes of reaching Asia (the Indies) and accidently landing in the Bahamas, but what we choose to leave out of the story is the siege of European settlement and mistreatment of natives that came after Columbus’ initial voyage. Is it this political controversy that serves as a reason for employers to deny workers a paid vacation day – celebrating a man who founded our beloved homeland yet caused so much turmoil in American history? Politics aside, should Columbus Day be a holiday where we can both honor our indigenous forefathers AND our humble beginnings as Americans (of course that term would come much later)? Maybe renaming it Discoverers’ Day like Hawaii or Native American’s Day like South Dakota could help change the stigma associated with the holiday?
Whatever your stance on Columbus Day may be, it’s probably safe to say that another three-day weekend before the onslaught of fall/winter holidays would be more than welcomed by employees across the nation.
But more importantly, what do you think: Should your company get Columbus Day off as a national holiday? Voice your opinion on the comments section below.