Leif Erikson Day 2022: History, Significance and Celebrations

Leif Erikson Day is an annual observance on 9th October and it celebrates the Norse explorer who is believed to be the first to land in the Americas

Leif Erikson Day is an annual observance on 9th October and this day celebrates the Norse explorer Leif Erikson who is believed to be the first European to set foot in the American continent. 

The holiday has been adopted by a variety of states throughout the 20th century and represents a celebration of Norweigan explorers, the spirit of discovery, and the contributions of Norwegians in building the Americas over the time. 

This day is celebrated as remarkable achievement towards the discovery of the Americas and interestingly it is also celebrated just before the Columbus Day as Columbus is mostly regarded with the discovery of the Americas so this day is kind of awareness day to acknowledge the contribution made by Leif Erikson as well. 

Event Leif Erikson Day
Date October 9, 2022
Day Sunday
Significance The day honors and celebrates the Norse explorer Leif Erikson
Observed by World wide

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Leif Erikson Day History: 

Leif Erikson was likely born in Iceland around 970 or 980 AD, he was the son of Erik the Red and Thjodhild, and distant relative of the explorer who was said to have discovered Iceland. He was a true Viking from the start and had two brothers and a sister. His father was banished from Iceland and that's why they went to Greenland to establish the first permanent settlement there in 986 AD. 

Leif, however, apparently had enough of the extreme cold in Greenland and decided to move out. He and his crew then later traveled to Norway in 999, where he was converted to Christianity and was given the mission of introducing Christianity to Greenland. This was essential to his legend, as it was during this journey to Greenland, almost 500 years before Columbus would sail the ocean blue, during his voyage to Greenland he got blown away and landed to a land what he called "Vinland" and that's North America! 

It is believed that he landed in the Eastern Canada region that time and he named it Vinland because he saw that the territory was rich of vines and grapes. Then he along with his crew built a settlement there for visitors and spent the winter in their undiscovered territory. Come Spring, Leif’s crew loaded their ship with grapes and timber and headed back to Greenland. Later he is presumed to died in Greenland and never returned. 

The 1874 book America Not Discovered by Columbus by Norwegian-American Rasmus B. Anderson helped popularize the idea that Vikings were the first Europeans in the New World, an idea that was verified in 1960.  During his appearance at the Norse-American Centennial at the Minnesota State Fair 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. 

In 1929, Wisconsin became the first US state to officially adopt Leif Erikson Day as a state holiday. In 1963, Senator Hubert Humphrey and Representative John Blatnik, both from Minnesota, introduced bills to observe Leif Erikson Day nationwide. Then in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed proclamation to praise the contributions of Americans of Nordic descent generally and the spirit of discovery by declaring October 9th as the official holiday of Leif Erikson Day! 

Leif Erikson Day Significance: 

Infact October 9 is not associated with any particular event in Leif Erikson's life. The exact date of Leif's discovery of the Americas is unknown, but the Sagas state that it was in autumn. At the suggestion of Christian A. Hoen, 9 October was settled upon, as it took place in fall, and was already a historic date for Scandinavians in America. 

The date of October 9th was chosen because the ship Restauration coming from Stavanger, Norway, arrived in New York Harbor on October 9, 1825, beginning a wave of immigration from Norway to America. And because of that Norwegians immigrants played a very important role in building of the Americas. So this day recognizes the contributions of Americans who are of Norwegian or any other Nordic descent. 

Although the Norse settlements in Vinland did not last amd were forgotten later. But The Norwegian and other nordic people were earning a reputation for these journeys throughout Europe rapidly which led to further voyages in the years to come. Some also believes that even Christopher Columbus was inspired by Leif Erikson for starting his voyage in which he later discovered or maybe re-discovered the Americas. 

Norwegian people identify themselves and their culture with the courageous and curious explorers like Leif Erikson and it is a matter of pride for them. As they immigrated in droves to the United States, statues of Leif Erikson began to crop up, and Scandinavian communities, particularly in the Midwest, still define themselves by his spirit and legacy today. 

The holiday has also been acknowledged in the Nickelodeon animated series SpongeBob SquarePants where the series lead character Spongebob was shown as celebrating the Leif Erikson Day in the episode called "Bubble Buddy". Forbes states that the holiday is often mainly associated online with its appearance in SpongeBob SquarePants. 


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Leif Erikson Day Celebrations: 

The federal government of the United States observes the holiday and some U.S. states officially commemorate Leif Erikson Day. It is celebrated in many communities, particularly in the Upper Midwest and other places where large numbers of people from the Nordic countries have been settled. 

The state of Michigan along with many states have even held festivals near the day to celebrate it. There have been Canadian commemorations as well on this day, including in Edmonton, Alberta and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The day is also celebrated in Iceland.

Some people celebrate Leif Erikson Day by embarking on a new adventure such as surfing, mountain climbing, or by buying lottery tickets in honor of 'Leif the Lucky'. Some celebrate Leif Erikson Day by enjoying Norwegian food and cuisine such as seafood, rice pudding, or Norwegian cheese. Sine people also enjoy this day by performing traditional Norwegian dance. 

Leif Erikson Day is observed in many Nordic communities, but there are notable Nordic festivals around Scandinavian Museums and Heritage centers, as well as several in Washington state and Michigan. So people also likes to visit these places on this day. 

Most Searched FAQs on Leif Erikson Day: 

1. When is Leif Erikson Day observed? 

Leif Erikson Day is annually observed on October 9th. 

2. Why is Leif Erikson Day is not that known? 

Leif Erikson Day doesn't get as much recognition because it's overshadowed by Monday's Columbus Day which, unlike Erikson's day, is a federal holiday. 

3. What episode of Spongebob is Leif Erikson Day? 

SpongeBob loves Leif Erikson Day and he celebrates it in the episode “Bubble Buddy”.

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