Five Things You Probably Didn't Know About Christopher Columbus

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Twitter: @AndreaGompf

I don’t really understand why Columbus Day is still a federal holiday in the United States. First of all, Columbus didn’t actually discover North America (Leif Erikson got there first). Second of all, I think we’ve all basically agreed you can’t “discover” a place that was already inhabited by millions. Third of all, it is pretty well-documented that Columbus was the worst – a violent instigator of genocide, whose interest in the Americas (which he stubbornly insisted were actually the East Indies) was largely motivated by his desire for gold and slaves.

With that said, he did pave the way for the Spanish colonization of the Americas – which, devastating and genocide-filled though it was, basically created a cultural legacy that nearly all Latinos share today, regardless of our racial or geographical differences.

Anyway, my unsolicited opinions aside, there is no denying  ol’ Cristoforo’s pivotal place in history, so we figured we’d furnish you with some random facts about him for the water cooler:

1. Historians do not know Christopher Columbus’ exact birthday, but there is strong evidence to suggest it was on October 31st aka HALLOWEEN. Which would explain his whole white devil deal.

2. No portraits of the famed discoverer were made during his lifetime. As a result, reports of his looks have varied widely – with many describing him as a dreamy, six foot tall, strawberry blonde. Given the life span, dental hygiene, and prevalence of scurvy during the late 15th century I find it difficult to believe that Columbus was really that fly. But to each his own, I guess. Anthropologists writing in the journal Visual Anthropology used “morphing” to create an image of Columbus out of a composite of eight prints, to get as close as they could to the real thing. It looks kinda like George Washington:

3. Nostradamus was totally a Columbus biter. Ok, I’m definitely taking a huge presumptive leap here. But toward the end of his life (1501, to be precise) Columbus wrote a book called “The Book of Prophecies,” in which he compiled his apocalyptic religious revelations and other creepy stuff. That was two years before Nostradamus – who is famous for his book “The Prophecies” – was even born. Just sayin’.

4. Columbus’ remains took a little farewell world tour: they were originally sent to the Dominican Republic, then transferred to Havana, Cuba, then back to Seville, Spain. Kind of reminds me of when Celia Cruz died and they sent her body to Miami, New Jersey and the Bronx.

5. After his death, Columbus’ heirs sued the Crown for a part of the profits from trade with America, which led to an extended series of legal disputes known as the pleitos colombinos. This is interesting mainly because I wasn’t aware you could sue the monarchy in the 15th century, since, you know, they were into Absolute Power and exterminating anyone who opposed them and stuff.  The more you know…