Opinion: Forget the Nobel Peace Prize, it’s Leif Erikson day, people!


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Far be it from us to advance a completely unfounded conspiracy theory, but is it at all possible that the Swedes have something against the Norse? Otherwise, how to account for the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to President Obama on Leif Erikson Day.

Erikson, as many will remember from their world history classes, was the first European to set foot on North American soil (well, Canada, actually), beating out Christopher Columbus by nearly 500 years.


The discovery went unnoticed, apparently, because Europe was busy with the Crusades. (At least that is the theory advanced in this delightfully easy-to-read essay about Erikson that we found online.)

Erikson, of Norwegian parentage, was born in Iceland in 960, the son of Eric the Red (hence the last name) and grew up in Greenland. Around 986, while tooling around on his yacht, he happened upon what would later be known as New Foundland.

In 1964, Congress passed a resolution authorizing the president (it was Lyndon Johnson that year) to declare each Oct. 9 Leif Erikson Day. Erikson is singled out, but actually, the day commemorates another set of travelers. Here’s the proclamation:

On this day in 1825, the ship Restauration landed in New York City after sailing for 3 months from Stavanger, Norway. The 52 passengers aboard represented the first organized emigration of Norwegians to America. These brave individuals set to the seas, following in the grand footsteps of the famous Scandinavian explorer Leif Erikson. Over a millennium ago, Leif Erikson -- son of Iceland and grandson of Norway -- arrived in North America and founded the settlement Vinland, located in modern-day Canada. Today, we celebrate his historic voyage and remember those who journeyed to America from far-away lands.

So on this day, as Democrats celebrate Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, and Republicans do not, perhaps everyone can at least agree to raise a glass of honey meade in honor of Leif Erikson, who was a registered independent. Not!

--Robin Abcarian

Click here for Twitter alerts of each Ticket item. Or follow us @latimestot. We’re also on Facebook.Workers with the arts-service company Artech, labor to remove a statue of Viking explorer Leif Erikson from a concrete base, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007, overlooking Seattle’s Ballard waterfront. The project to repair the statue and move it to another nearby location became difficult when workers discovered that the hollow legs of the bronze statue had been filled with concrete when it was installed, permanently attaching it to the pedestal it has been displayed on for 45 years. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)