We have just celebrated Columbus Day, and each celebration comes closer to being our last. Statues of Columbus are coming down everywhere, and a strong movement to oust him from the calendar has been making itself felt. The man who discovered America while looking for something else is no longer the hero he once was.

Columbus Day always seemed to Dr. Boli to be an odd holiday. We do not have holidays for other people who got thoroughly lost. There is no Wrong Way Corrigan Day in our federal calendar. We do not even have a local holiday for the college kid who drove off the Bridge to Nowhere. (Even as he writes this, Dr. Boli knows his Pittsburgh readers are thinking, “But why not?”) Yet Columbus, a man who set out for Asia and ended up at a completely different continent, and furthermore never figured out how lost he was, gets himself a federal holiday.

But it is true that Columbus accidentally had a large effect on history. He brought cultures together, whether they liked it or not. And that has inspired Dr. Boli to suggest a replacement for Columbus Day, or, if you prefer, an enhancement to Columbus Day. We shall call it Encounter Day. The Encounter Day tradition will be to throw parties and stage events that celebrate the encounter of all our different cultures.

In practical terms, what this means is food. Italians bring pasta, Mexicans bring spiced chocolate, Cambodians bring ban chhev, Ethiopians bring sambusa, and so on. English people bring Indian takeout, because that is far and away the best food in England.

So there is our plan: a holiday for food, which is the best kind of holiday. We have a little less than a year to get ready for next year’s Encounter Day. Start planning the dish you’ll bring.


  1. von Hindenburg says:

    I’m all onboard for Lief Ericsson Day.

  2. Dr. Boli says:

    It seems unlikely that the people who are displeased with Columbus because of his relations with the original Americans would be better pleased with Leif the Lucky. The main difference between the two encounters was that the Northerners recognized the Europeans as pests very quickly, and took care of the problem before it became a serious infestation.

  3. Occasional Correspondent says:

    If it is to be a holiday for food, and it is to be Leif Ericsson Day, wouldn’t that imply . . . lutefisk?  Let’s be careful with the proposals we’re bandying about here.  Start down this road, fruitcake might be on offer.

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