Steven's Notebook

Look Ma - No Hands!

Destiny Day

October 13, 1492: At daybreak great multitudes of men came to the shore, all young and of fine shapes, and very handsome. … I was very attentive to them, and strove to learn if they had any gold. Seeing some of them with little bits of metal hanging at their noses, I gathered from them by signs that by going southward or steering round the island in that direction, there would be found a king who possessed great cups full of gold.

October 14: I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men and govern them as I pleased.

from Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James W. Loewen

And so Christopher Columbus (a.k.a. Cristoforo Colombo) arrived in the “New World” on October 13, 1492. A Dutch sailor reportedly persuaded him to change his log to October 12th for fear the 13th might trouble both the superstitious sailors and potential investors, though most current versions of History mark the 13th as the date of discovery. According to one report I heard on the radio this weekend, the 13th is “Destiny Day.”

Bonus points for you if you can tell us which island Columbus “found” first.

Today in the USA, Columbus Day is one of these floating Monday holidays — so that most governmernt offices can close and thus give some people a three-day weekend — and this year that means we’re actually celebrating the right day.

Of course, that all completely ignores Leif Ericsson and Bjarni Herjulfsson, neither of whom had as good a marketing campaign as Columbus did.

Updated: October 14, 2003 — 12:51 am
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