Skip to comments.Leif Erikson Day, October 9, 2004
Posted on 10/10/2004 3:14:20 PM PDT by U.S. Resident
Leif Erikson Day, 2004 More than 1,000 years ago, Leif Erikson led his crew on a journey across the Atlantic, becoming the first European known to have set foot on North American soil. Every October, we honor this courageous Viking explorer, his historic voyage, and the rich heritage of Nordic Americans. Immigrants from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden and their descendants have made great contributions to our Nation in the fields of business, politics, the arts, education, agriculture, and other areas. Nordic Americans have also made a significant mark on our country's society and culture, and have helped to establish and define America's most cherished principles. Their energy and spirit have inspired others, and their courage, skill, and determination have played an important role in the development of our country. Today, millions of people in the United States trace their origins to these Nordic countries, and their contributions to America make our country stronger and better. On this day, we also recognize our longstanding ties to these nations that were home to the ancestors of many Americans. Together, we continue to work to advance prosperity, expand freedom, and increase stability and security in Europe and elsewhere in the world. To honor Leif Erikson, the courageous son of Iceland and grandson of Norway, 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 and requested 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, 2004, 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 seventh day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-ninth. GEORGE W. BUSH
By the President of the United States of America
Leif Erikson Day, 2004
More than 1,000 years ago, Leif Erikson led his crew on a journey across the Atlantic, becoming the first European known to have set foot on North American soil. Every October, we honor this courageous Viking explorer, his historic voyage, and the rich heritage of Nordic Americans.
Immigrants from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden and their descendants have made great contributions to our Nation in the fields of business, politics, the arts, education, agriculture, and other areas. Nordic Americans have also made a significant mark on our country's society and culture, and have helped to establish and define America's most cherished principles. Their energy and spirit have inspired others, and their courage, skill, and determination have played an important role in the development of our country. Today, millions of people in the United States trace their origins to these Nordic countries, and their contributions to America make our country stronger and better.
On this day, we also recognize our longstanding ties to these nations that were home to the ancestors of many Americans. Together, we continue to work to advance prosperity, expand freedom, and increase stability and security in Europe and elsewhere in the world.
To honor Leif Erikson, the courageous son of Iceland and grandson of Norway, 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 and requested 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, 2004, 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 seventh day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-ninth.
GEORGE W. BUSH
"The country which is called Greenland was discovered and settled from Iceland. Eric the Red was the name of a man from Breidafjord who went there from here and took possession of land in the place which has since been called Ericsfjord. He named the country Greenland, and said it would make people want to go there if the country had a good name. There, both in the East and the West, they found human habitations and fragments of skin boats and stone implements, from which it was evident that the same kind of people had been there as lived in Wineland and whom the Greenlanders call Skraelingjar. He began settlement in the country 14 or 15 years before Christianity came to Iceland, according to what a man who himself had gone there with Eric the Red told Thorkell Gellisson in Greenland."
This extract from the Book of the Icelanders by Ari the Learned (1067-1148) is completely reliable, though tantalizingly brief. He could be sure that his readers knew about Wineland, and so wasted no words on the story of its discovery and the early attempts that were made to settle there.
The Book of Settlements contains more about Eric the Red, the father of Leif Ericsson. Erics father had fled from Norway because he had slain men, and settled in Iceland. Eric established a farm at Erisstadir in the west of Iceland and also lived for a short time on Oexney and Sudurey, two of the islands off the West coast. Like his father, he also became involved in slayings, and was eventually sentenced to three years outlawry and exile. Eric sailed to Greenland and spent the three years exploring both the East and West coasts. After a year in Iceland, he then moved permanently to Greenland in either 985 or 986. The same summer, 25 ships set out for Greenland, of which only 14 made the crossing. This was the beginning of the Icelandic settlement of the country, a settlement which flourished for some centuries.
The discovery of Wineland the Good and other lands on the eastern coast of North America is recorded at greater length in two mediaeval Iceland sagas, the Saga of Eric the Red and the Saga of the Greenlanders. These were probably written around or soon after the year 1200, just over two centuries after the events they record. Of course it is likely that many details in them were distorted or altered in the time during which they were handed down orally, but these two sagas contain a central body of facts in common, including most of the characters, the new lands in the west, and many of the main events.
Leif was Erics eldest child, probably born at Ericsstadir about 970-980. As a child he moved with his parents to Greenland and grew up on the farm at Brattahlid. Following the custom common among the sons of prominent Icelandic families of the time, he made a voyage to Norway as a young man. According to the account in the Saga of Eric the Red, his ship was blown to the Hebrides and he spent most of a summer there, during which time he begot a child with a woman named Thorgunna. He arrived in Norway in the autumn. The king of Norway at the time was Olafur Tryggvason (who ruled 995-1000), and he made great efforts to convert Norway and the countries which had been settled from it to Christianity. Leif met the king, was converted, and spent the winter with him. In the spring the king sent him to Greenland to spread Christianity, and sent two men to Iceland for the same purpose, who succeeded in getting the Icelanders to adopt Christianity at the Althingi in the summer.
Leif was driven off course in this voyage, and found lands whose existence he had not previously known of. In one place there were fields of self-sown wheat and grapevines. Leif named the country Wineland. On the way back to Greenland he found men on a wrecked ship and rescued them, after which he made his way to his fathers home in Brattahlid. This took place in the year 1000 according to Snorri Sturlusons Heimskringla.
Leif brought a priest with him from Norway, and set about spreading the new religion in Greenland. The saga says that Eric was reluctant to have anything to do with it, but his wife Thjodhildur was converted immediately and had a church built at some distance from the farm buildings. The settlers in Greenland were probably all converted very quickly, since no heathen graves have been found there. A cathedral and bishopric were built later in Gardar in the next fjord.
Soon after Leifs return to Greenland, an expedition was mounted to explore the lands he had found. The explorers came first to a flat and stony land which they named Flat-Stone Land. Then they sailed further south and found another piece of land which was level and wooded, and they named this Forest Land. Then they sailed a long way south and reached a country where there were grapevines and self-won wheat. Flat-Stone Land was probably Baffin Island, while Forest Land was possibly part of Labrador. Archeological remains left by Norsemen in the Viking Age have been discovered on the northern tip of Newfoundland. They are probably the remains of wintering quarters, a staging-point on the way between Greenland and Wineland. From the descriptions in the sagas and from the objects found in Newfoundland it seems plain that Wineland was considerably further south, probably to the south of Gulf of St. Lawrence in what is now New Brunswick.
The Saga of Greenlanders tells how Bjarni Herjolfsson, the son of a settler in Greenland, was the first to see the new countries when he lost his course in fog while sailing to Greenland, and how Leif Ericsson later explored them and gave them their names. It is impossible to say now which version is correct, but if the two sagas are given equal weight then the conclusion is that both men were the discoverers, but Leif retains the credit for exploring the new lands and giving them their names according to their characteristics.
Attempts were later made to settle in Wineland. A man from Skagafjord in northern Iceland, Thorfinnur Karlsefni, led a large expedition in the early 11th century. According to the Saga of Greenlanders, there were sixty men and five women on his ship, including his wife Gudridur. Thorfinnur had all sorts of livestock with him, since he intended to settle in the new country. He got Leifs permission to use the houses Leif had built in Wineland and stayed there with his men for three years, but was driven away following violent clashed with the Skraelingjar. During the first autumn in Leifs house in Wineland, Snorri, the son of Thorfinnur and Gudridur was born, and he is the first European recorded in history as being born on the American continent. After a short time in Greenland, Thorfinnur and Gudridur went back to Iceland and settled at Reynines in the North.
"Gudridur was a very exceptional woman" says the Saga of Eric the Red, and the Saga of the Greenlanders says that after Thorfinnurs death she made a pilgrimage to Rome, returned to Iceland to live with her son, finally becoming a nun and a recluse in her old age.
Very little is known about Leifs later life. He was the most prominent person in Greenland after the death of his father, and he lived at Brattahlid. It is not known when he died, but his son Thorkell is on record as the master of Brattahlid in about 1025, so that he presumably died before then.
Leifs determination and nobility of spirit are well attested in the two Wineland sagas, albeit in tersely-worded passages. "Leif became wealthy and well respected" says the Saga of the Greenlanders. After the rescue of the shipwrecked men, the Saga of Eric the Red reads: "In this, as in many other things, he showed the greatest nobility and goodness ... and after this he was always called Leif the Lucky".
The Orientals had him beat by at LEAST 10,000 years.
We need a clarificaton: Finns were NOT Vikings.
Go Vikings!! (and kitties)
I come from the Land of the ice and the snow...........
We don't know who he was, but he could have come from anywhere but Australia.
The deal is, if you take a good look at the hurricane season in the Atlantic, and the sheer size of the Pacific basin, ancient people could get to America fairly easily. They just couldn't get back home ~ unless, maybe, the guys from the high Andes running cocaine to ancient Egypt, ever thought to go back.
Snorri's grandfather was Carhal, the High King of Ireland in that day, right?
The Kensington Runestone is now housed in a museum in Alexandria, Minnesota. It is generally dismissed as a forgery from after the modern settlement of Scandinavian immigrants in the area.
Speaking of Leaves, does anybody remember Leif Garrett? During the late 1970s, he attained a certain degree of notoriety as some sort of teen idol. A few lame Top 40 hits and possibly a movie or two but I can't remember. He was some kind of sissy long-haired kid. Faded into obscurity even faster than Shaun Cassidy.
I Was Made for Dancin'
Like a wheel on a road
Turning round and round
Nowhere to go
I've got to find out
If you're feeling it too
It's hard to tell
So here's what I do
And everytime I want more
I take you out on the floor
I was made for dancing
All, all, all, all night long
Yes, I was made for dancing
All, all, all, all night long
The days and nights
Are moving by me and you
You're such a crazy love
You tear me in two
I spend my time
Moving to dreams that I face
Such a crazy love
You can see it in my face
And everytime I want more
I take you out on the floor
(CHORUS) etc to fade
That's funny! I was thinking of that old 70's era song myself, when they mentioned Iceland, and the discovery of the other lands up there!
Their is a Leif Erickson Park in Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights Brooklyn, created back in the day when that part of New York was home to the largest population of Norwegians outside of the midwest. Although most (though not all) of the Norwegian has moved on, there is still the crowning of Miss Norway every year in May.
I'd bet there weren't any Viking old folks homes.
I raise my glass of mead to you all....skol!
...and I raise my glass to you, as well!
Hey, the Vikings WON today, too!!!
Thank you Sir!
(Nordic Princess - ex-Minnesotan...I love MN, it's just too cold to live there! ;-)
The part about the wool-carders in Genoa is just a story. By the time he was 18 years of age he was sailing on ships owned by Rene of Anjou, one of the King of France's cousins, and Isabella's Grandpa!
"They" knew who he was, even if you weren't supposed to. His wife was a niece of the King of Portugual as well, and you didn't climb to such heights in the High Middle-Ages without being born with a privilege or two.
My money's always been on Columbus (Colombo to the cognizenti, and knowing that "BO" is an old Welsh and Breton prefix for "Mc", we have some interesting possibilities here) being one of Rene's cousins, or possibly even a batard or thereabouts.
To get to the point, it's very likely that all the Scanderhoovians in the world are descended from half a dozen of Columbus' Breton cousins, so what's the big deal?~!
I'd thought York County PA was the largest settlement of Scandinavian people outside of the Midwest in the 1800s, and in the 1600 and 1700s the LARGEST settlement of Scandinavian people outside of Scandinavia itself!
Orientals? You mean a bunch of rugs and vases or did you mean Asians?
Great photo. I would love to see a good movie made about the Vikings. Russell Crowe would be perfect for that type of film.
Ohh I'm sorry... I used the now defunct un-PC term.
Kinda like calling blacks, colored.
Don't tell the NAACP I used that term, K?
Perhaps if all the various racial groups could publish an annual "white paper" we could all use the accepted temporal terms...?
Did you ever see a movie that came out many years ago called: "The Viking Prince"? It starred: Kirk Douglas(with a patch over his eye!), Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh(who has also recently departed, sadly!), and I think, Ernest Borgnine.
It must have been made somewhere in the mid-to-late 50's. Because Douglas and Curtis starred in "Spartacus" in roughly the same time frame. Also, Curtis and Leigh played in a movie about Harry Houdini and his wife in that era, I believe.
That would be cool; because I like History, and that's one part of the world I'd like to know more about! I do remember reading a long while ago about some people finding that stone! Apparently there was a trip taken by some people, including a well known newsman, Erik Severeid(sp?); to trace a route believed taken by Viking settlers/explorers, after that stone was found.
This group took canoes down along the St.Lawrence river, going inland; trying to find out how far these people might have gotten in their travels. I can't remember what happened after that; or what they found out. I know that they ran into some obstacles, because of time going by, and people changing the land through farming and industry.
I do remember Kirk Douglas playing in a viking movie.
I remember that show! A Bonanza clone, but a good one. They don't make 'em like that anymore (sigh).
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest -- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)
I read that Christopher Columbus may either be Italian, Spanish, Jewish, or Basque.
Lapkit of the Valkyrie, Shield Maidens of Valhalla;
Battlecat of a thousand tales of glorious victory;
Wielder of Thors Hammer;
He hurls bolts of Zot as mortal man doth cast spear and battleaxe.
Fiercest of a fearsome brood,
Broodmate of the heroes of sagas and runes yet unwrit;
But boasted of in the high halls of fame and glory,
And hissed in caves of dread and darkness.
Grandsire of all the Kits of Viking lore,
Whose sharp ears stand like spear tips;
Upraised, erect, listening for evil-sounds,
The lies that fall from lips of trolls not good.
Fangs of iron; claws of steel;
Maw dripping with the black blood of evil doers;
Terror of Trolls, ruiner of Rats, destroyer of Dims;
His muzzle darkened with evil gore.
Now he purrs;
Hey, that's my wedding anniversary (I think...). 'Tis an interesting thing for this Scot.