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History of Leif Erikson Day

Leif Erikson was a Norse explorer and he is the first European to land in North America. He landed five hundred years ago before Christopher Columbus. It is trusted that he was born in Iceland about 970 AD. He was the son of Erik Thorvaldsson, a Norse explorer from Western Norway. Erik Thorvaldsson is also known as Erik the Red. Leif Erikson mother's name was Thjodhild. Leif Ericson had one half sister named Freydis and two brothers, Thorvald and Thorsteinn. Leif Erikson married a woman, Thorgunna. They had only one son named Thorkell Leifsson.

Leif Erikson went to work for Olaf I, the king of Norway. When he stayed in Norway Erikson turned himself into Christianity. He returned to Iceland and bought a boat in 1003. He set out to explore the land west of Greenland that had been discovered by an older explorer, Bjarni Herjolfsson. The land he discovered was actually Newfoundland and that land is now part of Canada. It is believed that he first visited Baffin Island, then Labrador and settled in the Northern part of the Newfoundland Island. There are some speculations that Leif Erikson and later explorers travelled to the area of now Minnesota in the United States. The archaeological finds Kensington Runestone and the Maine Penny supports this one as well, but it is not gets proved.

Leif Erikson day is observed on October 9th every year, which is an annual American observance. It is celebrated on memory of honoring Erikson. He brought the first Europeans to have set foot on the North American soil and so the Leif Erikson day is getting celebrated. In 1874, Rasmus B. Anderson published a book with a statement that “America not discovered by Columbus“. This book popularized the idea that Vikings were the first Europeans in the new world. In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge at his visit at the Norse-American Centennial acknowledged that Leif Erikson as the discoverer of America. Due to the great efforts of Rasmus B. Anderson, Wisconsin declared Leif Erikson day as a state holiday in 1930. Wisconsin became the first state to do officially. Minnesota followed Wisconsin after a year.

Leif Erikson day had been an official observance in seven states by the year 1956. The seven states are Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Illinois, Colorado, Washington, and California. One Canadian province named Saskatchewan is also included in the list. John Blatnik, the U.S. representative from Duluth, introduced a bill in 1963 to observe Leif Erikson day nationwide. By next year, Congress adopted this unanimously. October 9 is not associated with Leif Erikson life event. It was chosen and observed because it is the anniversary day that the ship restauration arrived in New York from Norway (Stavanger) on October 9, 1825. It was the start of the organized immigration from Scandinavia to the United States of America.

Fri, 21 May 2010 11:10:55 +0000

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