Leif Erikson Day is an annual American observance which occurs on October 9. It honors Leif Ericson (Old Norse: Leifr Eiríksson or the Norwegian: “Leiv Eiriksson”), the Norse explorer who brought the first Europeans known to have set foot in North America.
Leif Erikson Day in United States
Leif Erikson Day honors the first Scandinavian known to have set foot on American soil and the contribution of the Nordic peoples to the United States.
Leif Erikson Day honors a viking explorer known as Leif Erikson. He is believed to be the first recorded Nordic person to have visited the area that is now the United States. It is believed that he visited Baffin Island and Labrador around 1000 CE.
October 9 is not associated with any particular event in Leif Erikson’s life. The date was chosen because the ship Restauration coming fromStavanger, Norway, arrived in New York Harbor on October 9, 1825, at the start of the first organized immigration from Norway to the United States.
What do people do?
The president of the United States issues a proclamation about the holiday. Many US presidents have, in the past, publicly praised the spirit of exploration and discovery, as well the contributions of people with a Nordic background and their culture.
“Leif Erikson was born of Norwegian descent around 970 CE in Iceland. It is thought that his father and grandfather were outlaws and explorers around Scandinavia and Greenland. His father founded two settlements in Greenland. Leif had two brothers and one sister. He married a woman named Thorgunna and they had one son, called Thorkell Leifsson.
Leif Erikson went to Norway to work for King Olaf I of Norway. During his stay, he converted to Christianity. When he returned to Island, he bought a boat and, in 1003, set out to explore the land west of Greenland that had been discovered by Bjarni Herjolfsson, and older explorer. The land that he had discovered was actually Newfoundland, which is now part of Canada. The ‘Saga of the Greenlanders’ tells of his adventures.
It is thought that he visited Baffin Island and Labrador and settled on the Northern part of the island of Newfoundland, now all part of Canada. There are speculations that Leif Erikson or later explorers may have traveled into the area that is now Minnesota in the United States. Some controversial archaeological finds, such as the Kensington Runestone and the Maine Penny, support this theory, but it is not considered proven.
October 9 was chosen because it is the anniversary of the day that the ship Restauration arrived in New York from Stavanger, Norway on October 9, 1825. This was the start of organized immigration from Scandinavia to the USA. The date is not associated with an event in Leif Erikson’s life.”
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