Facts about Leif Erikson Day
Every year on October 9th, Leif Erikson Day is observed in honor of Leif Erikson, who is thought to be the first explorer to set foot in North America. Leif Erikson was a Norse explorer who was born around the year 1000 A.D. (around 960), and the second son of Erik the Red. It is thought that Leif Erikson deviated from his planned route to or from Greenland and ended up in Nova Scotia. Vinland was the name given by Leif Erikson to the land where they disembarked. Leif Erikson arrived on North American soil about five centuries before Christopher Columbus. Leif Erikson was too busy spreading Christianity to return to Vinland, but his brother Thorvald did.
Interesting facts about Leif Erikson Day:
Vinland is thought to be in Nova Scotia, but Viking ruins discovered in northern Newfoundland in 1963 led some to believe that this was the location of Vinland, rather than Nova Scotia.
The Viking site of L’Anse-aux-Meadows in northern Newfoundland, discovered in 1963, is thought to be the oldest European settlement in North America. More than 2000 Viking artifacts have been recovered on the site to date.
The date of October 9th was chosen to commemorate Leif Erikson Day because it was the day the ship ‘Restauration’ arrived in the United States from Norway in 1825. This marked the beginning of Scandinavian settlement in America. Leif Erikson has nothing to do with October 9th.
During the Norse-American Centennial in 1925, President Calvin Coolidge credited Leif Erikson with discovering America. Although Christopher Columbus was credited with discovering America, scholars’ research identified Leif Erikson as the first person to set foot on North American soil.
Leif Erikson Day became a state holiday in Wisconsin in 1930, Minnesota in 1931, and five more states, including South Dakota, Illinois, Colorado, Washington, and California, by 1956. Saskatchewan, Canada, also recognized it.
Congress officially recognized Leif Erikson Day in 1964.
In the United States, Leif Erikson Day is commemorated by a presidential proclamation.
Leif Erikson Day is regarded as an observance rather than a federal holiday.
Some people celebrate Leif Erikson Day by trying something new, such as surfing or mountain climbing, or by purchasing lottery tickets in honor of ‘Leif the Lucky.’
Some people celebrate Leif Erikson Day by eating seafood, rice pudding, or Norwegian cheese.
Because Leif Erikson discovered North America while on a mission to spread Christianity, some people choose to renew their religious faith on Leif Erikson Day.
Some people believe that Christopher Columbus discovered North America, but scholars have discovered evidence that Leif Erikson was the first.
There is a Spongebob Squarepants episode that honors Leif Erikson as the discoverer of North America.
Some people mark Leif Erikson Day with ceremonies and activities that highlight Nordic-American heritage and the Nordics’ contributions to American history.