Thursday, October 10, 2013

Columbus Day Celebrations

Columbus Day, which also falls on Canada's Thanksgiving Day, is Monday.  Christopher Columbus was Italian and he completed four voyages, for the Spanish Kingdom, across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents.   During his first voyage in 1492, instead of reaching Japan or India as he had intended, Columbus landed in the Bahamas.  This is why he named the natives "Indians" thinking he landed in India.

Columbus' crew sailed on the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.  Over the course of three more voyages, Columbus visited the Greater and Lesser Antilles, as well as the Caribbean coast of Venezuela and Central America, claiming them for the Spanish Empire.  Though Columbus was not the first European explorer to reach the Americas, having been preceded by the Norse expedition led by Leif Ericson in the 11th century, Columbus's voyages led to the first lasting European contact with the Americas.

Those are the common knowledge facts.  But when you dig a little deeper, it gets ugly.

When reading some of Columbus' journals and doing more research, things get fuzzy.  Columbus has been accused of mostly searching for gold, slaughtered thousands of natives, sold young girls into sex slavery and had an ego larger than his ships.  Other historians believe that his ships were followed by traders and entrepreneurs who did all of the horrific things.  Who really knows?

Certainly I do not want my children to emulate this.  So I will inform them of these mistakes and teach them how to reach their dreams without hurting others.  On this day especially, I like to encourage my kids to go after their dreams even when others don't believe in them...but to do so in a way of integrity.  

Needless to say, we won't be "celebrating" Columbus' achievements since I'm not even sure what they were.  I almost feel like it should be Dia De Los Muertos and we mourn all the natives who lost their lives and heritage.  But to each his own, so if you do want to celebrate, here are some different ideas to do so.

Here are some Columbus Day worksheets, crafts and activities that your kids might like:

How about decorating your table with ships, earth decor, Native American decor or even some Spanish/Italian decor? 
Old maps of the world would be great too.

Now check out these food ideas!

My wish to you is that you can make this day positive and a great educational experience with your kids about true integrity and character!

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