164.3k readers

11 Genocides That Have Been Turned Into Holidays

Updated June 14, 2019 164.3k views11 items

Who doesn’t love to party down on a federally mandated holiday? Usually the people who know what actually happened on said holiday.

The dark history of Thanksgiving is helped spur people to think about what they’re actually celebrating, and once you look into the back stories of many different celebrations, you realize that there are a lot of holidays based on genocide. America celebrates most of them, but there are plenty of holidays that shouldn't exist that are still celebrated all across the world. 

You would be hard-pressed to find someone who was purposefully celebrating Thanksgiving as an excuse to stick it to America’s indigenous people one more time, but it’s still important to remember the terrible fate Native Americans suffered as colonists began to claim land that they didn’t rightfully own.

Most people do their best to not think about the terrible catalysts behind their traditions, and that’s understandable. Who needs one more horrible thing to think about during the day? But if you’d like to dive deep into the world of misery that created some of your favorite holidays, this collection of horrific events that helped create some of the world’s most popular holidays is right here waiting for you.

If you know about another holiday with less-than-positive beginnings, leave a comment about it and prove that you’re the next Howard Zinn.

  • Thanksgiving

    The most famous of genocides that was turned into a family-friendly holiday is obviously Thanksgiving. The day that we reserve for stuffing ourselves with our family around a lush tablesetting is a day that grew out of a truly horrific event in American history.

    In 1637, after discovering the dead body of a white man, settlers armed themselves and set a Pequot village on fire. Anyone that managed to escape, including children, was systematically hunted down and killed. The name "Thanksgiving" allegedly comes from a speech that the governor of Bay Colony gave afterwards, referring to the day as: "A day of thanksgiving. Thanking God that [the settlers] had eliminated over 700 men, women, and children."

  • Columbus Day

    We can all admit that it's weird that we're still celebrating Columbus Day, right? Everyone knows it's a bogus celebration that was created as a way to promote the Chicago's World Fair in 1893? Besides that, Columbus didn't actually do anything that hadn't already been done, other than help pave the way for the extinction of America's indigenous people.

    So maybe let's not shut down the banks on a day that we named after him?

  • Confederate Memorial Day

    Photo: Henry P. Moore - Library of Congress / via Wikipedia

    Hold the phone. There's a national holiday to commemorate those who were fighting for their right to to enslave a race of people and make money off of their unpaid work?! Kind of. There's no set day for this "holiday," but it is honored in 10 states out of the Union (all in the South - duh), and it goes by a few different names, "Confederate Heroes Day" being the worst.

    In Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, it's a paid government holiday. Celebrations are pretty low-key for this holiday that sounds like something that the KKK made up, but we're sure that someone throws a party on one of the many different days that it's held - and more than likely that person is David Duke. What a nightmare world we live in. 

  • The Turkish Gallipoli Commemoration

    Photo: The Armenian Genocide Institute Museum / via Wikimedia

    In honor of the fallen soldiers who fought in the World War I battle of Gallipoli (fought on April 25, 1915), Turkey held international centenary events in 2015 featuring leaders of the World War I Allied nations, including Australian prime minister Tony Abbott; John Key, the New Zealand premier; and Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, along with his son Harry.

    Here's the problem: This celebration fell on April 24, the same day that Armenians commemorate the Armenian Genocide, when 1.5 million people were killed in a campaign by the Ottoman authorities to wipe out their people. Armenians consider April 24, 1915 (one day before the Gallipoli battle) to be the start of the genocide, when Turkish authorities began rounding up Armenians in Constantinople.