October 9, 2010

Leif Ericson Day – U.S.

This American holiday honors the Norse explorer Leif Ericson, who is thought by historians to be the first European to land in North America, other than Greenland. This landing took place nearly 500 years before Columbus arrived in the Americas, perhaps somewhere in Canada, probably on the northern tip of Newfoundland Island. (Another possibility is that the landing occurred in Massachusetts.)

Leif was born around the year 970 in Iceland. His father, who was called Erik the Red, was an explorer from Norway.

Leif heard from another Norse explorer that there was land visible west of Greenland, and he set off with 35 men to find it. The first landing he called (in Old Norse) “Land of the Flat Stones.” The second he called “Wood-land,” and the third, “Vinland,”

Historians have taken “Vinland” to mean wine land because grape vines grew there, or pasture land because vin used to mean “pasture.”

The Norse explorers built a small settlement at Vinland and stayed there during the winter. They returned to Greenland in the spring with a cargo of timber.


You might ask why October 9 is Leif Ericson day. Was he born on that day? Did he die on that date? Was it the day he first landed on the shores of North America?

No, October 9 is not linked to anything in Ericson's life. Instead, it was the day of the first organized immigration to the U. S. from Norway, in 1825.

Learn more...

Here is a short, interesting video about Norse exploration and Vinland. 

Check out this website about many different explorers. 

NOVA has a webpage all about Viking ships. 

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