Columbus Day honors the day Christopher Columbus discovered America. Originally observed every October 12, it was fixed to the second Monday in October in 1971.
The first Columbus Day celebration took place in 1792, when New York's Columbian Order–better known as Tammany Hall–held an event to commemorate the historic landing's 300th anniversary. Taking pride in Columbus' birthplace and faith, Italian and Catholic communities in various parts of the country began organizing annual religious ceremonies and parades in his honor. In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation encouraging Americans to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus' voyage with patriotic festivities, writing, "On that day let the people, so far as possible, cease from toil and devote themselves to such exercises as may best express honor to the discoverer and their appreciation of the great achievements of the four completed centuries of American life."
In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Columbus Day a national holiday in the United States.
Many Latin American countries also celebrate October 12 as the Día de la Raza (Day of the Race). The Spanish heritage is honored of people of Latin America. Celebration ceremonies feature speeches, parades, and colorful fiestas.