October 13, 2006

Alternatives to Columbus Day

Leif Erikson DayLeif Erikson Day is a United States observance occurring on October 9. It honors Leif Erikson, who led the first Europeans believed to have set foot on North American soil. In 1964, Congress authorized and requested the President to create the observance through an annual proclamation. Lyndon B. Johnson and each President since have done so. Presidents have used the proclamation to pay tribute to the contributions of Americans of Nordic descent generally and the spirit of discovery.

In addition to the federal observance, some U.S. states officially commemorate Leif Erikson Day, particularly in the Upper Midwest, where large numbers of immigrants from the Nordic countries settled. In 1930, Wisconsin became the first state to officially adopt this holiday, thanks to efforts by the Norwegian-American initiator, Rasmus B. Anderson. A year later Minnesota followed suit. In 1963, the U.S. Representative from Duluth, John Blatnik, introduced a bill to observe it nationwide. The following year Congress adopted this unanimously.
Discoverer's DayDiscoverer's Day is a commemorative public holiday of the state of Hawaii in the United States, observed on the second Monday of each October. It is celebrated on the same day as Columbus Day, a federal holiday which Hawaii does not officially honor, as Christopher Columbus had no part in the history of Hawaii. One of the principal advocates of the creation of the alternative holiday to replace the irrelevant federal holiday was Bud Smyser, editor of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin newspaper. While many in Hawaii still celebrate the life of Columbus on Columbus Day, the alternative holiday also honors James Cook, the British navigator that became the first person to record the coordinates of the Hawaiian Islands and shared with the world the existence of the ancient Hawaiian people and society. Some people interpret the holiday as a celebration of all discoveries relative to the ancient and modern societies of Hawaii.Discovery DayDiscovery Day is celebrated in only two provinces in Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador celebrates Discovery Day on June 24. Yukon celebrates it on the third Monday of August.

In Yukon, Discovery Day is a public holiday commemorating the anniversary of the discovery of gold in 1896, which started the Klondike Gold Rush.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, it commemorates John Cabot's discovery in 1497.


writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
One of the supposed proofs that Vikings also discovered what is now North America was a map drawn on parchment that was found bound in a book of Nordic sagas. Some of the sagas mentioned 'Vinland' as a part of their stories, and the map supposedly illustrated a pre-Columbian view of the northern hemisphere. Greenland was shown as an island and the Canadian coast was shown as part of a continent. As reported on NOVA on PBS this week, the map came to be regarded as one of the most valuable artifacts of early European history. But modern scientific analysis, while verifying the hand-scribed sagas as genuine, began to chip away at the map's authenticity. The parchment was isotope-dated to the right century, but the ink itself became problematical. Finally, with laser-spectral examination, the ink was found to contain titanium-based compounds that only have existed since about 1900. The map was a forgery, cleverly accomplished perhaps, but nonetheless a fake. Very much in doubt now are the voyages of the Vikings to Vinland, the green land of many animals and wild food and proud peoples...
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

Here's a good roundup of the evidence for a Viking discovery of America:


Many other such finds of "Viking" artefacts have been discredited as fakes. However, this has not occurred with the ruins at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, which are generally accepted as genuine. This site, with the evidence of radiocarbon dating and the Norse nature of its artefacts, gives genuine credibility to the Graenlendinga and Eirik's Saga. The evidence strongly supports the belief that the Vikings did visit the coast of North America long before Columbus.