09 October 2018

Viking Mayhem! #LeifEriksonDay: Vikings vs New World Explorers #ColumbusDay

Interestingly enough, Columbus Day (yesterday) fell the day before Leif Erikson Day (today) this year, so there are back to back "explorer days" to celebrate …or not. Because Vikings are a little further removed from our historical record than Columbus, they tend to be viewed through a rosier lens, though historically they were also marauders. They raped and pillaged, killed and conquered with the best (or worse) of them. This is why I stated yesterday, that I wasn't saying that Columbus was EVIL. He might have been in his heart. I don't know. Did he perpetrate atrocities? Almost certainly. But he also lived in an age where such acts were the norm. It doesn't make it right, of course. But History is about understanding the big picture.

This is also why it's funny that Vikings are so romanticized. I'm guilty of doing this myself. I love Viking mythology. I relate to the berserker ethos (as we mythologize it in modern culture). But would I have wanted to encounter an actual Viking had I lived in A.D. 1000? No freaking way!

That said, Happy Leif Erikson Day! Or Fuck Leif Erikson and the ship he sailed over on, if that's your take. As a student of History, I can see both sides. I'm not particular about "holidays after a person" in general. As humans, none of us are perfect and when we elevate a person to a pedestal, there is bound to be a moment of disenfranchisement when the elevated personage is wrought human once more. If you want to celebrate a nation, a school or food, I'm down. But when you seek to raise a single person above others, there's bound to be discord. No matter how great the man, he still has human foibles somewhere. Humans err.


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