Leif Erikson Day

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Leif Erikson Day
LeifErikson1968stamp.jpg
U.S. stamp issued on Leif Erikson Day, 1968
Observed by United States
Type Cultural
Significance Recognize contributions of Americans of Nordic descent
Date October 9
Next time October 9, 2019 (2019-10-09)
Frequency annual
Related to Leif Erikson

Leif Erikson Day is an annual American observance which occurs on October 9.[1] It honors Leif Erikson (Icelandic: Leifur Eiríksson, Old Norse: Leifr Eiríksson or the Norwegian: Leiv Eiriksson), the Norse explorer who led the first Europeans thought to have set foot in North America.[2][3][4]

History

The book America Not Discovered by Columbus by Rasmus B. Anderson was published in 1874, helping popularize the idea that Vikings were the first Europeans in the New World. During his appearance at the Norse-American Centennial in 1925, President Calvin Coolidge gave recognition to Leif Erikson as the discoverer of America due to research by Norwegian-American scholars such as Knut Gjerset and Ludvig Hektoen.[5] In 1930, Wisconsin became the first U.S. state to officially adopt Leif Erikson Day as a state holiday, thanks in large part to efforts by Rasmus Anderson. A year later, the state of Minnesota followed suit. By 1956, Leif Erikson Day had been made an official observance in seven states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Illinois, Colorado, Washington, and California) and one Canadian province (Saskatchewan).[6] In 2012, the day was also made official in Las Vegas, Nevada.[7]

In 1963, the U.S. Representative from Duluth, John Blatnik, introduced a bill to observe Leif Erikson Day nationwide. The following year Congress adopted this unanimously. In 1964, the United States Congress authorized and requested the President to create the observance through an annual proclamation. Lyndon B. Johnson did so, as has each President since. Presidents have used the proclamation to praise the contributions of Americans of Nordic descent generally and the spirit of discovery. In addition to the federal observance, some states officially commemorate Leif Erikson Day, particularly in the Upper Midwest, where large numbers of people from the Nordic countries settled.

Date

October 9 is not associated with any particular event in Leif Erikson's life. The date was chosen because the ship Restauration coming from Stavanger, Norway, arrived in New York Harbor on October 9, 1825, at the start of the first organized immigration from Norway to the United States.[8][9]

In popular culture

In Episode 3B of the second season of the American animated television series SpongeBob SquarePants, the show's titular character celebrates the holiday by wearing a horned helmet and a fake red beard.[10]

References

  1. Office of the Press Secretary (October 8, 2015). "Presidential Proclamation -- Leif Erikson Day, 2015". The White House.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Leiv Erikson". Go Norway. 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "History - Leif Erikson (11th century)". BBC. Retrieved 12 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Why Do We Celebrate Columbus Day and Not Leif Erikson Day?". National Geographic. 11 October 2015. Retrieved 12 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Gjerset, Knut; Hektoen, Ludvig. 'Becoming American, Becoming Suburban: Norwegians in the 1920s. 33. Norwegian-American Historical Association. p. 3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Hansen, Carl Gustav Otto (1956). "Leif Erikson Comes to the Front". My Minneapolis. Minneapolis.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Radke, Jace (October 2, 2012). "City Council To Recognize Leif Erikson Day" (Press release). City of Las Vegas. Retrieved October 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Leif Erikson Day in United States". TimeandDate.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Leif Erikson in Humboldt Park". Norwegian National League. Archived from the original on October 19, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "SpongeBob SquarePants - Season 2". Retrieved 9 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Anderson, Rasmus Bjorn (1874). America Not Discovered by Columbus: an historical sketch of the discovery of America by the Norsemen in the Tenth Century. Chicago: S.C. Griggs.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Sample proclamations: