Leif Erikson is believed to have been the first European to arrive in North America-- nearly 500 years before Columbus. It has been a holiday since 1964. The date was chosen because the ship Restauration from Stavanger, Norway, arrived in New York Harbor on October 9, 1825, at the start of the first organized immigration from Norway to the United States
Leif Erikson - born 960 - 980 A.D. in Iceland - died 1020 in Greenland. He was a Viking Explorer and the first recorded European to set foot on the North American continent in the year 1000 A.D. in the area of northern Newfoundland, nearly 500 years before the discovery of the America's by Christopher Columbus in 1492.
The twelve included explorers are as follows: Leif Erikson, Marco Polo, Bartolomeu Dias, Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, Amerigo Vespucci, Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, Ferdinand Magellan, Juan de Ponce de León, Hernando de Soto, Francisco Coronado, and Jacques Cartier.