We all remember the ridiculous song we sung long ago in our elementary years: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…” Today we are met with, yet again, another Columbus Day. Cheers to celebrating the man that accidentally bumped into our already inhabited continent. For those free of work and/or school, today is merely a day to sleep in or catch up on things. And for those of us who still have to go to school and/or work, we care even less.

School taught us from a very young age all we need to know. Who Christopher Columbus is, what he did and why we celebrate. But I’m sure you didn’t know that every year in honor of Christopher’s Italian heritage, the U.S. president signs an executive order designating the month of October as National Italian American Heritage Month. Coinciding with the festivities surrounding Columbus Day, the proclamation is recognition of the many achievements, contributions, and successes of Americans of Italian descent as well as Italians in America.

Now don’t let The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Snooki & JWoww, and Jerseylicious cloud your judgment. I promise you that yes there are real, educated, and respected Italian Americans who have made huge contributions to good ol’ America. Not only have they helped shape our country, Italians make up at least 15% of our Californian population! One out of ten people have some sort of Italian blood running through their veins.

So I encourage you to spend this year’s Columbus Day appreciating all that the Italians have given us. Go for a long drive on the open road (In Italy, the first highway was built in 1921). Enjoy a delicious ice cream cone (invented by the Italian ice cream manufacturer Spica in 1959). Or go clone an endangered species (first studied and performed by Italian scientist Philip Damiani). Believe me; this list can go on and on.

But if highways, cloning and ice cream are not for you, then there is a fantastic way to celebrate National Italian American Heritage Month here in Sacramento. On Sunday October 14, the Sacramento Italian Cultural Society throws its annual Columbus Day Olive Oil Celebration. Enjoy some of the best olive oils, pastas, desserts and more! Please click here for more information. Until then, ciao and happy Columbus Day.

Words Rica Douglas

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