About National Leif Erikson Day
Viking Leif Eriksson set foot in the New World a full 500 years before Columbus ever set foot on a ship.
Today, we know the World Heritage archaeological site L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland was Eriksson’s short-lived Vinland colony. Excavations in the 1960s uncovered Viking artefacts and confirmed it as the earliest European settlement yet known in the Americas. Leif Eriksson Day made its debut in the early 20th century, but it has never achieved the same stature as Columbus Day.
While Erikson died about a thousand years ago, his legacy lives on. This special day is recognized annually on October 9th, because the ship Restauration, coming from Scandinavia, arrived at New York Harbor on this day in 1825. That day was the start of many Norwegian immigrants coming to America and has no direct connection to Erikson himself.
While Columbus is honored with a federal holiday, President Lyndon Johnson first signed a proclamation in 1964 that declared October 9th as Leif Eriksson Day, a national day of observance. Each sitting president still issues a proclamation about it every year.
Leif Erikson Day has become well known thanks to a 2002 Spongebob Squarepants episode, in which Spongebob tries to celebrate the viking holiday with a friend.