Leif Erikson Day in United States

Leif Erikson Day

What is Leif Erikson Day?

Leif Erikson Day recognizes the history and contribution of the explorer Leif Erikson, one of the first European explorers to step foot on North American soil. The day has historical significance as his adventure motivated other immigrants to embark on their journeys, eventually resulting in Norse explorers settling in Greenland.

For many years, Nordic Americans have drawn inspiration from the expedition of Leif Erikson and his brave company. However, many states in the U.S.A. and Canada now celebrate this day. Please continue reading to know more about his journey and the importance of celebrating Leif Erikson Day. 

Leif Erikson Day All Quick Overview

  • Date: October 9
  • Category: Federal
  • Where It’s Marked? The U.S.A.
  • Why It’s Marked? By Remembering the explorer credited with bringing the first Nordic people to America around the year 1000.

History of Leif Erikson Day

While Columbus Day in the United States has been the subject of recent controversy, it is essential to remember that Christopher Columbus was not the first European to discover America. Leif Erikson arrived there over 500 years before him. He likely beat him quite some time!

Here is a brief history of Leif Erikson and why we celebrate him on October 9. 

The day is called Leif Erikson Day, but it is not just about one man it celebrates the whole Leif Erikson family and his crews who have sailed with him on the adventurous journey.

1. A Legend is Born

Leif Erikson was most likely born in Iceland between 970 and 980. He was the son of Erik the Red and Thjodhild, distant relatives of the traveler credited with discovering Iceland. 

He was raised as a pure Viking with his two brothers and a sister. But soon, his father was exiled from Iceland. Therefore, they moved to Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and founded their first permanent settlement. 

As you can see, adventure, exploring new places, and being a wanderer from early childhood helped him become a great navigator. 

2. Discovering Vinland 

After dealing with the harsh cold weather of Newfoundland, Leif decided to set off his voyage with his trusted crews to find Greenland around 999. His adventure was estimated to take him across the Atlantic Ocean, where he landed in continental North America. 

Upon reaching there, he built houses for his 35 crews and named the place Vinland or Wine Land as they found grapes there to make wine! They also hunted geese and made maple syrup before they headed back home.

What makes it even more remarkable is that he did all this without leaving any trace behind!

3. Norwegian Immigrants 

However, 52 Norwegian Quakers reached the New York shore after almost another millennium. The ship Restauration initiated the wave of immigration from Europe to America. Restauration reached the harbor on October 9, 1825.

Since then, Immigrants from Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark began to shift their life to America. And all the people who have Scandinavian or European roots consider this day as the accomplishment of Leif Erikson. 

Some anthropologists also assume Leif set foot on North American soil on October 9, 1002. 

4. Recognition

Even though the descendants of Leif have settled their lives in America, the official recognition of him being the first European to discover America came after a long path. After Calvin Coolidge declared and acknowledged Leif as the discoverer of America at the Norse-American Centennial, the voice started rising for official recognition. 

Finally, in 1964, the U.S. Congress took the initiative to observe October 9 as Leif Erikson Day. Therefore, Leif Erikson Day became a national holiday in the United States in 1964.

How to Celebrate Leif Erikson Day?

Leif Erikson Day is a holiday that celebrates the life and accomplishment of the explorer Leif Erikson. It is also a day to celebrate Norse culture and heritage. 

We should celebrate this day because it is a chance to learn about and observe the achievements of an important historical figure and Norse culture and tradition. 

There are many ways you can celebrate this great day. But the best part about celebrating Leif Erikson's day is being able to learn more about him and his legacy while having fun at the same time! Here are some ideas:

1. Homemade Treats

This idea is fun to celebrate this day by giving homemade treats or party favors with Nordic symbols. The symbols can be leaves, dragons, and ships.

2. Cosplaying and Parades

Although the day is celebrated the day before Columbus day, many people still do not know the history and significance of this historic day. 

Therefore, in various communities, people wear Norse-inspired clothing such as Viking helmets, horned helmets, fur cloaks, and braided hair and parade around the area near their place to let more people know about Leif’s expedition.

3. Read Books or Watch Movies

Leif was a skilled navigator and intrepid adventurer; his legacy has inspired many people over the centuries. Teachers can arrange special occasions in schools and colleges to read books or watch movies about him or any other history explorer. 

Or, you can always visit your local library or bookstore to read about explorers and honor this day. 

Countries that Observe Leif Erikson Day

While most Americans have never heard of Leif Erikson Day, it’s celebrated every October 9 in Iceland, parts of Canada, and the United States.  

In Iceland, people celebrate this day with honor and commemorate the very first Icelandic explorer. 

Around 1000 CE, Leif Erikson became the first European to travel from the Arctic to New Brunswick in what is now Eastern Canada. Hence, the archeologists of Canada are still searching to figure out the mythologies that circle the Vikings in Canada.

The USA's government publishes different postcards and proclamations to celebrate the day. 

Interesting Facts about Leif Erikson Day

Leif Erikson Day, which honors the Norse Explorer to early North American history, happens each year on October 9. As you plan your celebrations around this holiday, here are some interesting facts about him that you can share.

  • The Icelandic Saga states that the Voyage Erikson sailed with his crew members was planned with his father. However, a few days after setting sail, his father fell from a horse and called off the plan.  
  • After returning from his expeditions, he sailed back to Norway, becoming a popular figure due to his amazing adventures. 
  • In 1925, the government of Iceland inaugurated a monument in Reykjavik as a tribute to his discovery of America. 
  • In Spongebob Squarepants, Leif Erikson Day was mentioned in one of the episodes. Patrick’s note says, “Hey everybody!!! It’s Leif Ericson Day!!! HINGA DINGA DURGEN!!!

Unique Leif Erikson Day Celebration Ideas

Now that you know the significance of Leif Erikson, you must be thinking about what you can do to celebrate Leif Erikson Day. Here are some unique ways to help you celebrate this day. 

1. Visit Museums or Hike

s day. You can uniquely celebrate Leif Erikson's day by visiting the museum or art galleries that display paintings of landscapes of Nordic islands. There are statues and sculptures of Leif in Iceland and Canada, which can also be a part of your expedition. 

Another way to observe this day is to go hiking and explore places you have never been to with your friends.

2. Cook Food

Many European households celebrate this national holiday by cooking food. They believe that these foods are favorite recipes of Leif. 

You can cook-

  • Gingerbread cookies, 
  • Bannock bread,
  • Lefse (flatbread),
  • Pease porridge,
  • Lutefisk (dried whitefish) and 
  • Wild rice pudding with maple syrup whipped cream.

Leif Erikson Day Quotes

We should celebrate Leif Erikson Day to honor his courage, exploration, and dedication to his people. Some inspiring quotes about him might help others get involved in this day’s activities. So, here they are:

“We are all leaders-whether we want to be or not. There is always someone we are influencing-either leading them to good or away from good.”

“The pain that we cause is the cause of our pain.”


1. What is Leif Erikson most famous for?

Leif Erikson was famous for being the first European to set foot in North America.   

2. Was Leif Erikson a viking?

Yes, he was a Norse Viking.

3. Why did Leif Erikson get banished from Iceland?

He was banished from Iceland for killing Eyiolf the Foul.

Leif Erikson Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2022Sun09 OctLeif Erikson Day Non Public
2023Mon09 OctLeif Erikson Day Non Public
2024Wed09 OctLeif Erikson Day Non Public
2025Thu09 OctLeif Erikson Day Non Public
2026Fri09 OctLeif Erikson Day Non Public

We constantly update the dates of holidays that keep changing every year. However, while we revise and change some dates to be accurate, if you find any errors, kindly inform us . That will mean a lot to us.

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