Monday, October 8, 2012

Columbus or Leif Erikson Day?

People in the US have celebrated Columbus’ 1492 voyage since colonial days, but the first official Columbus Day holiday was proclaimed by Colorado governor McDonald in 1905, following lobbying by Angelo Noce, a first generation Italian in Denver.  Then in April 1934, President FD Roosevelt made October 12th a Federal Holiday named Columbus Day (after lobbying by the Knights of Columbus) – later the holiday was changed to the second Monday in October.
But now Americans are familiar with the idea that Vikings were the first discoverers of the New World.  It was back in 1874 that Rasmus B. Anderson published his book titled “America Not Discovered by Columbus” that gave credence to the idea of Vikings as the first European discoverers in the New World.  Wisconsin was the first state to officially adopt Leif Erikson Day as a state holiday and a year later Minnesota followed suit.  Seven states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Illinois, Colorado, Washington, and California) and one Canadian province (Saskatchewan) now have October 9th as an official observance date of Leif Erikson Day.

Did you know that Hawaii and South Dakota are the two states that do not recognize Columbus Day at all?  Instead, Hawaii celebrates a Discoverer’s Day that commemorates the contributions of Polynesian voyagers.
And South Dakota celebrates Native American Day.
Nevada does not recognize Columbus Day as an official holiday, but its Governor is “authorized and requested” by statute to proclaim the day each year – what’s up with that, Nevada?!!

Here’s a free patriotic tablerunner from How Stuff to celebrate the occasion, whatever holiday you choose to celebrate today!

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