|Leif Erikson Day|
U.S. stamp issued on Leif Erikson Day, 1968
|Observed by||United States, Canada, Iceland, Minnesota, other places with Nordic communities|
|Significance||Celebrating Leif Erikson as the first European to discover North America|
|Next time||October 9, 2020|
|Related to||Leif Erikson|
Leif Erikson Day is an annual observance that occurs on October 9. It honors Leif Erikson (Old Norse: Leifr Eiríksson, Icelandic: Leifur Eiríksson, Norwegian: Leiv Eiriksson), the Norse explorer who led the first Europeans thought to have set foot in continental North America (other than Greenland).
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 all but 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 U.S. state to officially adopt Leif Erikson Day as a state holiday, thanks in large part to efforts by Rasmus Anderson. In 1931, Minnesota did also. Thanks to the efforts of the Leif Erikson Memorial Association of Saskatchewan, the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan proclaimed—through an order-in-council in 1936—that Leif Ericsson Day would be observed on October 9. 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).
In 1963, Senator Hubert Humphrey and Representative John Blatnik, both from Minnesota, introduced bills to observe Leif Erikson Day nationwide. On September 2, 1964, Congress unanimously authorized and requested the President to create the observance through an annual proclamation. Lyndon B. Johnson did so that year, as has each president in the years since, often using the proclamation to praise the contributions of Americans of Nordic descent generally and the spirit of discovery.
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, beginning a wave of immigration from Norway to America.
In addition to the federal observance, 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 settled. It has long been observed in Seattle, Washington. In 2012, the day was made official in Las Vegas, Nevada. Westby, Wisconsin and Norway, Michigan have held festivals near the day. There have been Canadian commemorations, including in Edmonton, Alberta and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The day is also celebrated in Iceland.
The Norwegian National League in Minneapolis took the initiative in getting the Minnesota legislature to adopt a law of the same import and contents as the Wisconsin law making October 9 Leif Erikson Day. Such a bill was signed by Governor Floyd B. Olson, April 7, 1931.
Though many still regard Christopher Columbus as the discoverer of the New World, Eiriksson´s right to this title received the stamp of official approval in the USA when in 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson, backed by a unanimous Congress, proclaimed October 9th "Leif Ericson Day" in commemoration of the first arrival of a European on North American soil.
To honor Leif Erikson and celebrate our Nordic-American Heritage, the Congress, by joint resolution (Public Law 88-566) approved on September 2, 1964, has authorized the President to proclaim October 9 as "Leif Erikson Day".
Burnaby-New Westminster MP Peter Julian wants a day dedicated to Leif Erikson
The date, October 9, does not mark any special moment in Leifur’s life.
When, for example, Leif Erikson day was first commemorated nationally in the U.S. in 1964, the date October 9 was chosen because large scale migration from Norway to the U.S. began on that day in 1825 when the ship Restauration arrived in New York from Stavanger in Norway.
Norway once again will celebrate its Scandinavian heritage this weekend with the annual Leif Erikson Festival.
The Vinland Society of Prince Edward Island will mark Leif Erikson Day Thursday with a flag-raising ceremony in front of Province House.
October 9 is Leif Eiriksson's Day, when the people of Reykjavik celebrate the discovery of America.