Columbus Day: Honoring explorer, colonizer and clueless navigator Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas, on Oct. 12, 1492. The dude was actually trying to reach Japan in hopes of becoming rich via the lucrative spice trade, but instead landed in the Bahamas archipelago, which he promptly deemed San Salvador.
Under command of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, over the course of three more voyages, Chris visited the Greater and Lesser Antilles, and the Caribbean coast of Venezuela and Central America, haplessly claiming them all for the Spanish Empire.
Columbus Day was first observed in Colorado in 1906 and became a national holiday in 1937. In most states, there are parades for some reason, although three states—Hawaii, South Dakota and Alaska—are wise enough to pay it no mind at all. For some reason, it is also celebrated in Latin America, as Dia de la Raza, Discovery Day in the Bahamas, Dia de la Hispanidad in Spain and Dia de las Americas in Uruguay.
Columbus, incidentally, was not the first European explorer to reach the Americas: A Norse expedition led by Leif Ericson, who apparently used a map, preceded Chris. And yet Columbus got credit for the first meaningful European contact with America, since he colonized a shitload of undeclared land.
So let's acknowledge Columbus Day, in honor of a celebrated dude who was obviously pretty dumb, got lucky and subsequently became famous and rich. Sure enough, he is the epitome of the American dream. Just watch any reality show.