Tuesday, October 9, 2012

This year, Columbus got here first

Pursuant to 36 U.S.C. §114, today is Leif Erikson Day. Scandinavian lobbyists successfully lobbied Congress in 1964 to pass legislation allowing the President to declare every October 9 as Leif Erikson Day -- making sure, you see, that Erikson's achievement in reaching the New World (around 1001) was celebrated before that late-coming Italian, Columbus.

But the drafters of the legislation failed to anticipate the later adoption of Monday holidays in the United States -- and, therefore, sometimes, Columbus Day gets here before Leif Erikson Day. As in this year, when Columbus got here first.

Actually, according to our crack research staff, the real reason why October 9 was selected to commemorate Leif Erikson was that it was on October 9, 1825 that 52 Norwegian immigrants (who'd set sail from Stavanger, Norway three months earlier) first arrived on American shores. It was the first organized Norwegian emigration to America.

Our crack research staff also claims to be confused by the continuing controversy between Italian-Americans and Scandinavian-Americans over which of their heroes got to the New World first. After all, they tell us, it was St. Brendan that got here first, back in the 500s. Of course, our crack research staff are all of Irish descent.

Of course, if you'd rather avoid all this ethnic controversy, you can instead celebrate Moldy Cheese Day today, or National Sneakers Day.

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