Leif Erikson

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If you ask someone who discovered America they will most likely say it was Christopher Columbus! But that's not the complete story; the first European person recorded discovering America was Leif Erikson. Lucky Leif, as he was called, grew up in Iceland and had to leave the country when his father, Eric the Red was exiled. Eric, together with fellow comrades, moved to a place he later named Greenland. He chose the name Greenland in attempt to attract more people to move there despite its rugged terrain. 

According to the Icelandic Sagas, which were written almost five hundred years before Columbus set sail, one day when Leif returned to Greenland after his journey he bought a ship and set off on a journey with a group of young men to find another world. Rumours of this "other world" came from a man named Bjarni, who had seen a distant land from Greenland. 

The place they set ashore was rather disappointing; everything was rock. They named it Woodland, today a part of Eastern Canada. Leif and his men wanted to find something more attractive and with better conditions during winter so they journeyed further until they reached an island south of Woodland. They described it as the place where the grass and the grapes grow and named it Vinland. There they spent the winter in the turf houses they built for themselves. Vinland today is the province of Newfoundland in Canada.

Leif was so excited because Vinland had days and nights equal in length; totally different than Iceland and Greenland. After winter, when spring started, they could finally go back home and tell people what they had discovered.

Archeological research using Carbon 14 has dated their settlement to the Saga time.

The US declared Leif Ericson Day on October 9, 1929 but has only be celebrated since 1964.