Happy Leif Erikson Day!
So yesterday was Columbus Day, but Scandinavians know who the true discoverer of America was: Leif Erikson.

Good thing then, that there’s the annual Leif Erikson Day, an American observance which occurs on October 9. It was in 1874, that Rasmus B. Anderson’s “America Not Discovered by Columbus” was published, and the book helped popularize the now familiar idea that the Vikings were the first Europeans in the New World. Leif Erikson (or Leifr Eiriksson in Old Norse) was probably born around 970 and died around 1020, his mother was named Thjohild and his father was Erik the Red, an explorer and outlaw from Western Norway, who founded the first Norse colonies in Greenland.


According to the Saga of the Greenlanders, Leif had heard the story of merchant Bjarni Herjólfsson who claimed to have sighted land to the west of Greenland after having been blown off course. Leif approached Bjarni, purchased his ship, gathered a crew of thirty-five men, and mounted an expedition towards the land Bjarni had described.

Leif's father Erik was set to join him, but dropped out after he fell from his horse on his way to set sail, an incident he interpreted as a bad omen. Leif followed Bjarni's route in reverse, and landed first in a rocky and desolate place he named Helluland (Flat-Rock Land; possibly Baffin Island). After venturing further by sea, he landed the second time in a forested place he named Markland (Forest Land; possibly Labrador). Finally, after two more days at sea, he landed in a place Leif named Vinland (Wineland). There, Leif and his crew built a small settlement which was called Leifsbúdir (Leif's Booths) by later visitors from Greenland. After having wintered over in Vinland, Leif returned to Greenland in the spring with a cargo of grapes and timber. On the return voyage, Leif rescued an Icelandic castaway and his crew, earning Leif the nickname "Leif the Lucky".