What Happened to Columbus Day? What's Indigenous Peoples Day? And Is There School?

If, like many Angelenos, you were once a resident of another state—or even if you can remember to way back before 2009—you may be experiencing your annual attack of Columbus Day confusion. Is there school on Monday? Is it a holiday? Should you be picking something to do from the Mommy Poppins events calendar? And what about Indigenous Peoples Day—is that a thing? Go ahead and check your school district’s calendar if it makes you feel better, but we can end the mystery for you right here: yes, your public school kids have school on Monday.

Columbus Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October in other states, in honor of the Italian explorer who serendipitously bumped into our continent half a millennium ago. With every passing year, fewer states join in the party, though the residents of the 25 or so states that close schools and banks to celebrate Columbus Day assume that they’re taking part in a national holiday. The other half of the country has taken a stand against celebrating the man whose arrival resulted in the demise of the Native American way of life.

But wait—there's more! Some parts of California have renamed the once national holiday Indigenous Peoples Day, and Los Angeles is among them. The LA City Council voted last year to make the second Monday in October a citywide holiday called Indigenous Peoples Day, but so far no local school districts have taken that as a reason to close schools.

In the meantime, any descendants of the disoriented Italian explorer who are feeling slighted by the displacement of their ancestor's holiday can take comfort in another action the city council took to balance any hurt feelings: October 12th has been named Italian American Heritage Day. No recommendation has been made, however, to close schools that day either. Kids will just have to find a different way to celebrate all of this culture. The second Monday in October is just another day here around here; no one discovered us in 1492.

Happy two-day weekend!


Originally published October 3, 2012