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Historical & Current Events dictionary

Leif Erikson Day

Erikson is variously spelled as Ericson, Ericsson, or Eirikson [ leef er-ik-suhn dey ]

What is Leif Erikson Day?

Leif Erikson Day is a US holiday that commemorates the landing of Norse navigator Leif Erikson in North America around 1000 CE.

Erikson is believed to have landed in a location known as Vinland, a place that’s variously identified as the coast of New England, Labrador, or Newfoundland.

Leif Erikson Day is most commonly celebrated in places in the US with large populations of people with Scandinavian heritage.

When is Leif Erikson Day?

Leif Erikson Day is observed each year on October 9.

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Related words

Constitution Day, International Women's Day, Mexican Independence Day

Where does Leif Erikson Day come from?

Leif Erikson Day was officially proclaimed as a holiday in 1964. The date of October 9 was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of the day in 1825 when a group of Norwegian immigrants arrived in the US as part of what’s considered to be the first large migration of Scandinavian people to the US.

Leif Erikson later became a symbol of Scandinavian people in the US, similar to how Italian navigator Christopher Columbus has traditionally been held as a prominent figure among Italian Americans.

Leif Erikson Day takes place around the same time as Columbus Day (observed on the second Monday in October), which commemorates Columbus’s landing in the Americas in 1492. Before knowledge of Leif Erikson’s journey, Columbus was commonly credited as the first European to land in the Americas.

The placement of Leif Erikson Day in close proximity to Columbus Day is interpreted by some as a way of making it a “rival” holiday, especially due to Erikson’s earlier arrival.

Celebration of Columbus and his role in the colonization of the Americas is often criticized due to the devastating consequences for Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples. Many people object to the celebration of Columbus Day and instead observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Similarly, though Erikson’s landing in North America did not result in colonization, some object to the holiday as another example of white European history overshadowing and marginalizing the history and culture of Indigenous Peoples.

Examples of Leif Erikson Day

It's only fitting that the Vikings won on Leif Ericson day
@SuperNES414, October 9, 2016
This Leif Ericson Day, remember that no matter how long your ride home is, it’s probably not half as far as Leif Ericson’s was!
@SpongeBob, October 9, 2015
October 9 is Leif Erikson Day, a United States holiday that honors the Icelandic explorer who some believe was the first European to reach North America.
Becky Little, National Geographic, October 11, 2015
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Who uses Leif Erikson Day?

Did you know … ?

  • Leif Erikson was the son of Eric the Red, who explored and colonized Greenland around 985 CE.
  • Some people first became familiar with Leif Erikson Day due to the cartoon show Spongebob Squarepants, in which it’s mentioned as the title character’s favorite holiday.

What are other words used in discussion of Leif Erikson Day?

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Bonifacio Day, Small Business Saturday, Giving Tuesday, ♐️ Sagittarius emoji, American Music Awards

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This is not meant to be a formal definition of Leif Erikson Day like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of Leif Erikson Day that will help our users expand their word mastery.