Columbus Day 2020: What’s open? Will mail run? Alabama celebrates 3 holidays today

Jaime E. Love

Today in 1492, Italian Explorer Christopher Columbus made landfall in the Americas. That accomplishment – – establishing a viable sailing route to the Americas and opening up the New World – is celebrated each year on the holiday bearing his name.

Columbus Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October. This year, the government holiday falls on Monday, Oct. 12.

The first Columbus Day celebration in the U.S. took place in 1792, when a group of leaders in New York held an event to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the explorer’s historic landing. Similar events continued through the year until 1892, when President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation asking that Americans celebrate Columbus during a holiday in which they “cease from toil and devote themselves to such exercises as may best express honor to the discoverer and their appreciation of the great achievements of the four completed centuries of American life.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Columbus Day a national holiday in 1937. The day was originally celebrated every Oct. 12 but was changed to the second Monday in October beginning in 1971 with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.

The day is not without its controversy. In recent years, Native Americans and other groups have protested the idea of celebrating an event that marks the start of the colonization of the Americas and the displacement of indigenous people. Columbus Day has been replaced with other holidays in some areas, including Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon and South Dakota, which commemorate Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day.

Alabama marks 3 holidays today

Alabama officially marks the day as three holidays today: Columbus Day, American Indian Heritage Day and Fraternal Day.

Alabama, home to nine recognized tribal governments, first celebrated American Indian Heritage Day in 2000. The commemorations is intended to “honor Alabama’s indigenous people and their contributions to their homeland and for their passion in keeping American Indian culture and history a vibrant part of Alabama’s life,” state officials said last year.

Fraternal Day is unique to Alabama.

The day was first celebrated in 1915 on the second Thursday of October. It was meant as a time to honor the work of fraternal organizations and the Alabama Legislature later ordered it moved to coincide with the Columbus holiday. The holiday focused not just on traditional fraternal organizations, such as the Masons, but also on veterans’ groups and other clubs.

Here’s a look at what’s open and what’s closed on Columbus Day 2020:

  • Federal offices are closed. Columbus Day is the seventh of 10 federal holidays in 2020, with Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas remaining.
  • Most banks and credit unions are closed, check with your local branch.
  • U.S. Post Office will not deliver mail, post offices are closed.
  • UPS and FedEx are open.
  • Alabama state offices and courts are closed; Columbus Day is one of 13 state holidays.
  • Many county, city offices remain open. Birmingham City, Huntsville City and Mobile City are open.
  • Almost all schools are open on Columbus Day.
  • Redstone Arsenal and Marshall Space Flight Centers are closed. Gates will be accessible based on holiday/weekend schedule.
  • ABC Stores are open.
  • Stock markets (New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq) are open.
  • Restaurants, malls, movie theaters – Almost all restaurants, malls and movie theaters are open.
  • National Parks are open.
  • Most libraries will be closed.
  • Most department stores and restaurants will be open.
  • Grocery stores will be open.
  • Garbage and recycling collection may be on an altered schedule. Check with your local provider for service changes.

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