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Here’s what’s open (and closed) on Columbus Day 2021

Fortune logo Fortune 10/11/2021 Chris Morris
© Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg—Getty Images

Arguably the most controversial holiday on the federal calendar, Columbus Day, also called Indigenous Peoples' Day, is often overlooked—until you try to conduct some personal business only to find closed signs.

That’s generally not the case with retailers. But if you’ve got reason to visit a government office or bank, things get more complicated. And with many businesses facing staff shortages (and the fact that Mondays generally are slow for many industries), you could see more closures than normal this year.

Here's a look at who's open and closed on Columbus Day 2021, and a look at the controversy surrounding the holiday.

What is Columbus Day?

Columbus Day, held on the second Monday of October, is meant to celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas, which occurred on October 12, 1492. It became a federal holiday starting in 1971. However, while he's credited for leading the charge of European immigration to North America, history has shown that Columbus was less a heroic historical figure and more of an arch-villain, bringing disease, wars, and more to what would eventually become the U.S. and brutalizing Native Americans in the process.

That led to a symbolic renaming of the day to Indigenous Peoples' Day starting in 1992. Rather than focusing on Columbus, the day celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. It’s not recognized on a federal level, but it is an official holiday in 13 states and dozens of cities, which choose not to honor Columbus Day.

Are banks open on Columbus Day?

In general, no. Columbus Day is a federal holiday, meaning most banks will be closed as well. One exception is American National Bank, which keeps its branches open.  You can, of course, still use ATM machines to get cash or put money into your account.

Will there be any mail delivery on Columbus Day?

There won’t be any from the U.S. Postal Service. Mail delivery is suspended that day, but UPS and FedEx will conduct business as usual, including deliveries for all divisions. In addition, all of their drop-off locations will be on normal hours.

Is the stock market open on Columbus Day?

The New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, and bond markets are all open. Their next scheduled holiday is Thanksgiving.

Are government offices open on Columbus Day?

Federal offices will be closed, but it’s less certain for city, county, and state divisions. City of Chicago offices, for instance, will be closed, but Delaware doesn’t recognize this as a legal holiday. Many states that observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day do not offer this as a paid holiday, either.

Which retail and grocery stores are closed on Columbus Day?

Basically none. While some small businesses could be closed due to staffing crises, no major retailer shuts down for this holiday. Previously, some retailers would offer "Columbus Day Savings," but the specials generally weren’t that good. These days, there’s enough controversy around the holiday that most tend to ignore it.

What makes Columbus Day so controversial?

Among the things historians have learned about Columbus: He enslaved many West Indies natives, seizing six of them on the first day he hit land in 1492 to make them his servants. Thousands were sent to Spain to be sold. And others were forced to search for gold in mines. Within 60 years of his landing, there were only a few hundred Taíno natives left, compared to the 250,000 who resided there when he arrived.

So why do people still celebrate Columbus Day?

Many Italian-Americans view the day as one of pride, celebrating their heritage. New York City will host the 77th annual Columbus Day parade on Fifth Avenue. Another, celebrating its 39th year, will take place in Brooklyn.

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