It's Leif Erikson Day! (So What Does That Really Mean?)

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Today, October 9, is Leif Erikson Day, and Spongebob Squarepants fans everywhere are yelling Hinga Dinga Durgen, sporting a false beard and metal helmet, and joyfully rowing their bed across the floor. A Spongebob Facts account announced online that "today is one of Spongebob's favorite holidays, Leif Erikson Day!! He is celebrating the first known European to set foot in North America by wearing his Viking helmet and red beard!"

So let's talk about why Leif Erikson Day exists. Like the account said, he is the first known European to set foot on North America. Yes, even before Christopher Columbus. Erikson lived from 970-1020 and was a Norse explorer who started a settlement at Vinland, the northern tip of Newfoundland in modern-day Canada. His own place of birth is not known, but thought to be Iceland, as he was the son of a man who, after starting his family, was banished from Iceland and in turn, established the first permanent settlement in Greenland.

Although none of Erikson's settlements in Vinland were permanent, news of the traveling made it back to other Norse people, who in turn, made the voyage out west. In fact, it is rumored that it may have inspired Christopher Columbus, who visited Iceland in 1477 and may have heard stories of the journeys.

Viking Leif Erikson by John K. Daniels, 1948-49, near the Minnesota State Capitol.  ( source: Wikipedia )

Viking Leif Erikson by John K. Daniels, 1948-49, near the Minnesota State Capitol.

Wikipedia

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