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The acknowledgement of Norwegians

In 1930 the state of Wisconsin officially recognized Leif Eriksson Day as a state holiday. It is not until 1931 Minnesota followed Wisconsin’s initiative in adopting Leif Eriksson Day.

John Blatnik, introduced a bill in the US Congress to make Leif Eriksson Day a nation wide observance in 1963; it was approved by annual proclamation by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, in which every year has been annually proclaimed by other presidents.

During the presidential proclamations, it is tradition to praise people of Scandinavian heritage for their ongoing contributions in society. However as early as 1925 president Calvin Coolidge gave recognition to Leif Eriksson as the discoverer of America; due to the research by scholars like Anderson, Gjerset and Hektoen.

So why October 9th? On October 9, 1825 the Restauration arrived from Stavanger, Norway in the first organized migration of Norwegians to the United States. The date has nothing to do with Leif Eriksson or his voyage to America.

Leif Eriksson Day has two functions, first to acknowledge what Norwegians have contributed as well as other Scandinavians to American society; and to begin the trend to a correction in history that is long over due, in that Christopher Columbus was not the first European in America, the Norwegians were.

According to the Grœnlendinga saga Bjarni Herjólfsson was on his way to Greenland from Iceland to visit his parents, when he was blown off course arriving in a strange new landscape, in the year 985 or 986 CE. Although his crew begged Bjarni to explore this mountainous tree covered wilderness Bjarni was eager to find his parents and not explore the new land.

It was not until Leif Eriksson arrived in Greenland in 1000 CE with the intent to convert Greenland to Christianity ousting his father Erik the Red. Leif himself was recently converted by Olaf I of Norway and had been charged by Olaf to convert Greenland.

However upon arriving in Greenland Leif bought Bjarni’s ship and headed out in a exploration of the lands that Bjarni had discovered in the year 1002 or 1003 CE.

The first lands Leif came to he named Helluland, which is most likely Baffin Island in Canada, the second land was named Markland, which is believed to be Labrador and to a greater extent Atlantic Canada. The third land Leif came to he named Vinland. There is great debate about the location of Vinland due to the particular items found at this location, wild grapes and butternuts. It is most likely in my personal research of this topic to be in south-eastern New Brunswick, Canada. As it has both wild grapes and the only location in Atlantic Canada that butternut also occurs along with the wild grapes.

The settlement in L`Anse Aux Meadows discovered by the Ingstad’s in the 1950’s – 1960’s proved that the Norse were the first Europeans in North America in approximately the year 1000 CE, which would correspond to the voyage of Leif Eriksson.

Although Leif Eriksson converted to Christianity his accomplishments and deeds as Norseman can not be ignored as they play a vital role in the correction of Germanic history and cultural image.

Posted in Forn Seðr, Other.

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