Friday, October 10, 2008

Leif Eiriksson Day

Leif Eiriksson Day

In the United States of America, October 9th is Leif Eiriksson Day. This day honors Leif, who brought the first European adventures to North America. In 1964, Congress authorized and requested the President to create the observance through an annual proclamation. Lyndon B. Johnson and each President since have done so. Presidents have used the proclamation to praise the contributions of Americans of Nordic descent generally and the spirit of discovery. Some states also officially commemorate Leif Eiriksson Day.

October 9th 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.

Leifur Eiriksson was born between 975 and 980 on the west coast of Iceland, the son of Erik the Red, a Norse explorer and outlaw. Leif immigrated to Greenland as young boy, in 985, with his father. The Complete Sagas of Icelanders begins with the two sagas known as the Vinland Sagas, which tell of the voyages first led by Leif Eiriksson to a land he called Vinland (‘Wineland’). Leif, nicknamed 'Leif the'Lucky' after rescuing shipwrecked seamen on his way back from Vinland.

While in Norway Leif Ericson converted to Christianity, like many Norse of that time, at the request or command of the King of Norway, Olaf I. When he returned to Greenland, he bought a boat and set out to explore Vinland, which likely was Newfoundland, Canada.

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