Happy Leifur Eiríksson Day!



Leifur “heppni” (Leifur The Lucky) Eiriksson was born about 968 at Eiríksstaðir in Dalasýsla. According to the Sagas of Icelanders, he established a Norse settlement at Vinland, most likely Norse L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada.

Leifur’s mother is Thjóðhildr and his father is the famous Norwegian Viking named Eirík the Red. Eiríkur “rauði” )Eirík the Red) founded the first Norse colonies in Greenland. His family lived at Brattahlíð in the Eastern Settlement. Leif had two known sons: Þorgils, born to noblewoman Þorgunna in the Hebrides; and Þorkell who succeeded him as chieftain of the Greenland settlement.

You will find various spellings of Leifur’s name. Leif Erikson, Leif Erickson, Leifr Eiriksson, and Leifur Eiríksson. He is regarded as the first European to land in North America. Tomorrow, we will be celebrating Columbus Day. This is a bit controversial today since Christopher Columbus arrived in North America nearly 500 years after Leifur and the others in following expeditions such as Guðríður, Snorri, and Þorfinnur plus the many others.

October 9, 1929, the Wisconsin Legislature passed a bill to make October 9 “Leif Erikson Day”. That date was not special in his life but was chosen because it commemorates the first organized emigration in 1825 from Norway to the United States. Their ship was called Restoration. On board this ship were 52 Norwegian Quakers. Their ship came to the New York harbour. Afterwards, many people emigrated from Norway to North America.

To commemorate their journey, in 1964, the US Congress proclaimed October 9 of each year as “Leifur Eiríksson Day”. And if you are wondering — October 9th is also the special day to commemorate:

  1. Chess Day

  2. Moldy Cheese Day

  3. Clergy Appreciation Day

It is also the birthday party for one of my grandsons. So, we will be celebrating in a few hours. Hope you have a wonderful day whatever you are celebrating!


Icelandic Roots is a non-profit, educational, heritage organization specializing in genealogy, history & traditions of our Icelandic ancestors.

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