Columbus Day

Columbus Day

Today is Columbus Day in the United States, a federal holiday.

“Columbus Day” for my African readers has always perplexed them. After all, we know that Columbus didn’t land in America, but in the West Indies. So it absolutely strikes non-Americans as a fickle holiday in a country that’s known to not have many.

This year, though, it has special meaning. We in America normally take long weekend breaks much deserved and anticipated around days like this. For those of us living in The North it’s always a beautiful time as the trees change color and the frost of winter appears on our morning windows.

But this year we aren’t relaxing a bit: Americans are glued to their TVs and radios anxiously wondering if they will contract ebola and if not that, end up in yet another war in the Levant.

All but a handful of states suspend many elective services, schools are closed, all banks in all states must be closed, and there’s no mail delivery. The holiday was proclaimed in 1937 on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus into the Americas. So this year, with so much of the federal government also closed, America is really chilling out.

Many large cities, including New York, have huge parades. Over the years the celebration has taken on an ethnic tone, celebrating Italian heritage.

Many of us would normally take short road trips to country house BnB’s and tiny towns further north to enjoy the fall colors.

But this year the only color we see is black. The country is worried, today.