Some 520 years ago, Christopher Columbus set out across the Atlantic and discovered - The Bahamas. Half a millenium later, we mark the achievement with a nice long weekend before the weather turns cold.
Over the years, Columbus Day has become more controversial. Native American organizations understandably take a very different view of the day than those who first created it. And then there's the matter of historical accuracy. I've actually been to L'Anse Aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland, where Vikings briefly established a colony in the 12th Century before being driven out by natives on the Canada coast. One historical account they tell up there says that bad blood was almost inevitable because when the Vikings and Indians first met, a cow that came over on the Norse boats burst loose, terrifying the Indians and sending them scaterring.
Closer to home, I've written in the past about New England archaeological anomalies such as America's Stonehenge in New Hampshire, which also strongly suggest that ancient sailors were more skilled than we give them credit for. There is also the mystery of Dighton Rock, now a Massachusetts State Park. The rock features ancient petroglyphs that Cotton Mather thought were the work of the devil and which the Indians said were not from them. Another interesting anomaly to look up around here include the Westford Knight, thought to be the grave of a 13th Century explorer who traveled with Prince Henry The Navigator, who at least one professor has also linked to the previously mentioned Dighton Rock. Then there's also that fellow known as Leif Erikson.
So back to Columbus Day. When you look at the history of it all, John Cabot Day seems to make as much sense as Christopher Columbus Day. But it's still a great excuse to take one last long weekend before the weather turns.
What do you think about Columbus Day? A fitting tribute to a great explorer? A dark day in history? Just a day off? Or something perhaps in between?