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Leif Erikson Day

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Leif Erikson Day
Observed by United States
Type Cultural
Significance Recognize contributions of Americans of Nordic descent
Date October 9

Leif Erikson Day is a holiday in the American and happens on October 9. It honors Leif Ericson, the Norse explorer who brought the first Europeans known to have set foot in North America. [1]


America Not Discovered by Columbus by Rasmus B. Anderson was published in 1874. This book helped make popular the idea that Vikings were the first Europeans in the New World. In 1925, American President Calvin Coolidge recognised Leif Erikson as the Discoverer of America. This was due to research by Norwegian-American scholars such as Knut Gjerset and Ludvig Hektoen.[2]

In 1930, Wisconsin became the first state to officially adopt Leif Erikson Day as a state holiday. A year later, the state of Minnesota did the same. By 1956, Leif Erikson Day was an official holiday seven states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Illinois, Colorado, Washington, and California) and one Canadian province (Saskatchewan). [3]

In 1963, the U.S. Representative from Duluth, John Blatnik, introduced a bill to observe Leif Erikson Day in the rest of the United States. In 1964, the United States Congress authorized and requested the President to create the observance through a yearly proclamation. Lyndon B. Johnson and each President since have done so. Presidents have used the proclamation to praise the spirit of discovery and the contributions of Americans of Nordic descent generally. Some states officially commemorate Leif Erikson Day, particularly in the Upper Midwest, where large numbers of people from the Nordic countries settled.


October 9th is not related with any 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. This was the start of the first organized immigration from Norway to the United States.[4][5]


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.

Other websites

Sample proclamations: