Columbus Day and the Italian American Experience


Life as a child is often full of paradoxes and as a small boy I wondered why we needed a day to celebrate Italian-American culture in the United States when I lived like an Italian in the United States each and every day of my life, for example.  As I grew up, I realized many Italian Americans observe Columbus Day as a celebration of our heritage, however, and any day that highlights the Italian American experience can’t be a bad thing.

Columbus Day was first celebrated as a holiday in New York on October 12, 1866.  The holiday was made popular by the Italian American Angelo Noce in Denver, Colorado in 1905 and in 1934 Franklin Roosevelt made Columbus Day a federal holiday. As we move further away from the first Italian immigrants who came to the US (during the first great migration in early twentieth century and then, to a much smaller extent, in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s) we should stay focused on what it truly means to be and live as an Italian American and not what our American culture has defined for us.

Happy Columbus Day and enjoy the photos of the Scordo family in 1950/60’s Calabria, Italy.


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