Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Leif Erikson Day

Yesterday, a Monday, was the Columbus Day holiday. Columbus Day used to fall on October 12, recalling the day in 1492 when Christopher Columbus "discovered" the New World.

October 9 is Leif Erikson Day, commemorating the Viking pioneer who landed in North America some 500 years earlier. Here is President Bush's proclamation:
Leif Erikson Day, 2007

A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

On Leif Erikson Day, we commemorate the enduring legacy of a brave explorer and honor the significant contributions of Nordic Americans who continue to enrich our culture and our way of life.

Leif Erikson, a son of Iceland and grandson of Norway, led a determined crew across the Atlantic more than 1,000 years ago and became one of the first Europeans known to reach North America. The courage of these pioneers helped open the world to new exploration and important discoveries. Today, Nordic Americans help strengthen our country, and their determination and optimism make America a more hopeful land. Our Nation continues to benefit from strong ties with Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, and we are grateful for their continued friendship.

To honor Leif Erikson and to celebrate our citizens of 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 of each year as "Leif Erikson Day."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 9, 2007, as Leif Erikson Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs to honor our rich Nordic-American heritage.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-second.

For Leif the Lucky's discovery of North America, you can read this portion of The Saga of Eric the Red from 1387 (translated, of course). Or there is this more modern telling the life of Leif Erikson. While Leif himself only visited in the year AD 1000, Vikings from Iceland and Greenland soon settled in North America, as proven by the archaeological discoveries at L'anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, beginning only in the 1960s. But it seems that it was then a period of what we would currently call "global warming" (think farms in Greenland), and the outpost was abandoned as the pioneers went back to Iceland.

Oh, why October 9? According to the Leif Ericson Viking Ship organization, October 9, 1825 was the arrival date of the first Norwegian immigrant ship, the Restauration, in New York.

So Columbus only re-discovered America. I'll go see the replica of the Nina anyway, since it is still in Peoria.

No comments: