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National Leif Erikson Day


This day, October 9, is an annual observance that honors Leif Erikson, the Norse explorer who brought the first Europeans known to have set foot in North America.


In 1925 at the Norse-American Centennial, President Calvin Coolidge gave recognition to Leif Erikson as the discoverer of America due to research by Norwegian-American scholars such as Knut Geirset and Ludvig Hektoen.


United States Representative, John Blatnik from Duluth, introduced a bill, in 1963, to observe Leif Erikson Day nationwide. In 1964, the United States Congress authorized and requested that the President create the observance through an annual proclamation. President Lyndon B. Johnson and each President since have done so. In the proclamations, the Presidents have praised the contributions of Americans of Nordic descent generally and the spirit of discovery.


Some states officially commemorate Leif Erikson Day, in addition to the federal observance, particularly in the Upper Midwest where there are large numbers of people from the Nordic countries settled.


October 9 was chosen as Leif Erikson Day as the ship, Restauration, coming from Stavanger, Norway arrived in New York Harbor on October 9, 1825, at the beginning of the first organized immigration from Norway to the United States.

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