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What am I celebrating?

October 10, 2017

The Scandinavian community of Metropark Centralis, including those from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland gathered at the bust of Leif Ericson in front of Shooters in Cleveland’s Flats. Leif Ericson was a Norse explorer regarded as the first European to land in North America (excluding Greenland), nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus.

According to the Sagas of Icelanders, he established a Norse settlement at Vinland, tentatively identified with the Norse L’Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland in modern-day Canada.

In 1964 the United States Congress authorized and requested the president to proclaim October 9 of each year as “Leif Erikson Day”. Each year local Scandinavians meet at the bust of the exploerer which is in front of Shooter’s restaurant in the Flats. Here they toast Ericson and his maritime accomplishments with a drink of Aquavit, a 40 proof Scandinavian liqueur. Aquavit is said to get its special flavor from its trip to the Equator.

That’s right; Aquavit is placed in barrels and put on a ship bound for Australia. It must pass the Equator and return to get the right flavor. All of the sloshing in the barrels on the long ocean trip makes the drink unique. It also has a distinctive flavor, partially because of spices such as caraway. Skol!

Facts and quotes . . .

  • Leif Erikson was actually born in Iceland but his family was Norwegian. He died in Greenland in the year 1020.
  • On October 9, 1825, the first wave of Norwegian immigrants arrived on US soil in New York City. Between 1825 and 1925, nearly one-third of Norway’s population immigrated to the US.
  • Erikson named his settlement Vinland or Wineland due to the many grape vines that he discovered there.
  • There are more than 4.5 million Americans with Norwegian ancestry living in the US today, of which 55% live in the Upper Midwest states.
  • Histories have been written and more will be written of the Norwegians in America, but no man can tell adequately of the tearing asunder of tender ties, the hardships and dangers crossing the deep, the work and worry, the hopes and fears, the laughter and tears, of men and women who with bare hands carved out of a wilderness a new kingdom. – Rønning, N. N., from the book Fifty Years in America

What to do on Leif Eriksson day  . . .

  • Purchase a Leif Ericson Millennium Commemorative Coin from the US Mint. The coins were released at the beginning of the century however you can purchase some from collectors online or even try to find them in public circulation.
  • Visit one of the many Leif Erikson statues in the United States. There are statues in Boston, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland, Virginia, Seattle, Minnesota and North Dakota.
  • Take a trip to Iceland, Norway or Greenland and visit the homelands of Leif Erikson.
  • Take a trip to UNESCO site of L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada. This is believed to be the site of Erikson’s first New World settlement.
  • Watch a movie about Vikings and Leif Erikson. Some movies include: Leif Ericson (2000) and The Vikings (1958), The Viking Sagas (1995) and The 13th Warrior (1999).

Leif Erikson Day was yesterday, but today is Tattoo Tuesday!

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