Monday, October 08, 2007

The Holiday That Isn't

The Holiday That Isn't

Today is Columbus Day, one of the most controversial and inconsistently-observed holidays in the United States.

The Federal Government does observe Columbus Day. Missouri State Government offices do observe Columbus Day, as does the State of Illinois. Most banks are closed as well.

However, the University of Missouri does not. Nor does St. Louis City (PDF) government, although of course we did have a Columbus Day parade on The Hill yesterday. Nor does Washington University observe Columbus Day. Indeed, the WashU PR department website today features an article strongly critical of the holiday.

I think there's some irony in the fact that controversial Columbus Day was moved to the 2nd Monday in October on the Federal holidays calendar in 1971, the same year Martin Luther King Day became a holiday in the City of St. Louis -- a good 15 years earlier than the Federal holiday was designated.

This is the 70th anniversary of Federal designation of Columbus Day, and the 100th anniversary of its first official celebration, in Colorado. Protestors attended the parade in Denver this year to mark their desire to call the day Indigenous Peoples Day.

I cannot really complain about not getting Columbus Day off as an MU employee. After all, I still get four personal days and seventeen vacation days each year -- a pretty good deal for any employer. But it is kind of odd that, across the street, all the courts are closed, and at City Hall, while most offices are open, the vehicle and drivers license offices are closed, as they are operated by the Collector of Revenue (not by the License Collector, as you might expect) under a State contract. Also, traffic coming into downtown was unusually light at 7:30 this morning.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

St. Louis city employees worked Columbus Day in exchange for a holiday the day after Thanksgiving.