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Ever Heard of The Columbus Exchange ?

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The 10th of October 2016 is Columbus Day this year. It varies year to year as it is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Columbus Day is the celebration of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas on October 12th, 1492. Canadian Thanksgiving and Columbus Day have many common attributes. Namely, they are celebrated on the same day.

By landing on American soil, Christopher Columbus is unfortunately now known and responsible for  '' the Columbus Exchange.” This was the transfer or exchange of all things human, materialistic, edible and contagious !

What was ‘exchanged’?

  • Chocolate
  • Wheat
  • Bubonic plague
  • Chicken pox
  • Cholera
  • Malaria
  • Measles
  • Typhoid

Crikey!! 

Timeline

1492 Christopher Columbus’ voyage ended on the Bahamas Island – the Americas Continent.

1792 Three hundred years later New York and other US cities celebrated Columbus Day.

1869 Italians in New York City claimed Columbus as their own and celebrated Columbus Day Italian style.

1892 US President Benjamin Harrison declared Columbus Day a patriotic day.

1905 Colorado was the first state to observe the holiday.

1937 Columbus Day was declared a federal holiday.

1971 It was decreed that Columbus Day would be celebrated on the second Monday of October.

2004 Columbus Day was first celebrated in Italy.

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Who was Christopher Columbus?

Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa Italy in 1451. He became a sailor. During a voyage, the ship he was aboard was attacked by French pirates. He was lucky to have been able to swim ashore to Portugal. He settled there and later married Felipa Perestrello in 1479. He had always been a mariner.

He believed he could sail east from the Old World, Europe, and find Asia. He took his beliefs and experience to the royal houses in Europe in search of support. He received none until he met with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. They believed in him and gave their support.

“Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.”

Christopher Columbus, 1492.

Christopher Columbus assembled his fleet under the Spanish flag. His flagship was the Santa Maria. They set sail in August 1492. Thirty-six days later he landed on an island of modern-day Bahamas. His crew traded with native folk and they travelled to nearby islands. They observed the ways of the local folk and realised they wore gold, pearls and jewels as accessories.

On Christmas Eve 1492, their flagship, the Santa Maria, met with a coral reef. The crews spent Christmas salvaging the cargo and what lumber they could from the ship itself. When Columbus next set sail for Spain, he left thirty-nine sailors behind in a new settlement, Villa de la Navidad or "Christmas Town." Columbus sailed away fully believing he had discovered the outer islands of Asia.

The following year he returned to South America or the New World and continued his explorations. While exploring he claimed each island as a colony for Spain’s empire. He left his two brothers on the islands as managers. Neither their governance nor his supervisory skills were popular with the natives.

It took a further return trip to Spain before Columbus found his way to mainland South America, namely Venezuela. Shortly after he arrived a royal official arrived and had Columbus shackled in chains to return to Spain. Columbus had to answer to the royal court on matters of mismanagement. Though the charges were later dropped, his title of governor of the Indies was stripped from him.

He convinced the royal court that one more voyage would bring the riches he had promised. They set sail but were washed ashore on Cuba. He showed his ingenuity when the disillusioned natives refused to feed them. His knowledge of the moon and astrology meant he knew an eclipse was imminent. He declared that the natives lack of food for the stranded sailors would be frowned upon by the gods and they would be duly punished by the loss of the moon. The eclipse hid the moon, the natives fed and watered the crew, the moon “appeared.” A rescue party arrived from Spain to retrieve the stranded sailors. They returned without the promised riches in late 1504.

Christopher Columbus spent his last two years rebuilding his reputation and his wealth. Although he regained some of his wealth, he never regained his titles before his death. He did die believing he had discovered the western side of Asia…

Irish Gift Ideas from Lee Valley

Did you know?

In Latin America, Columbus Day is celebrated as Día de la Raza, meaning “day of the race” or “day of the people.”

Columbia is the only country to get its name from its European discoverer, Christopher Columbus.

Christopher Columbus never set foot on North American soil.

Christopher Columbus’ initial landing was on the Bahamas; there Columbus Day is called “National Heroes Day.”

Val Kilmer starred in the movie called “Columbus Day.”

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  • caitriona@leevalley.ie (caitriona hurley)
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