Monday, October 10, 2011

Unwrapping: Columbus Day

It's Columbus Day or rather the government holiday for Columbus Day so that a long weekend can be had by those fortunate enough to have it off. October 12th is traditionally Columbus Day but as with many holidays that have been moved out of convenience, the real date seems to have been forgotten. I personally don't forget because it's also my father's birthday - he'll be celebrating 91 yrs young.


     Christopher Columbus is attributed with the founding of the Americas in 1492.  Think of the excitement, the fear and speculation that he and his crews might never have returned. After all, it was still believed the earth was flat and that they would sail directly off the edge if they went too far.  We keep with the tradition that it was Columbus and his men that first set eyes on the Americas. Of course, he landed in Central America, not New York City.

     Many forget that it was the Vikings who first landed along the northeastern coast of North America nearly 500 years earlier. Of course, it wasn't as well documented or sponsored so perhaps that's the real reason we don't call it Leif Erikson Day instead of Columbus Day. However, yesterday - October 9 - was actually Leif Erikson Day and many, especially among the Scandinavian people of North America, do celebrate it. He represents the first Scandinavian to set foot on what is, today, American soil.

     I grew up celebrating Columbus Day. We told the story of how in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue in three ships,  The Niña, Pinta, and Santa María. Even today, there are parades in some of our biggest cities and of course, a three-day weekend for government employees. But what if it had been the Vikings who were given the real credit? Would it have made a difference to us?

     Perhaps if the Vikings had been given credit, we'd be drooling over great Viking statues rather than those of Christopher Columbus. Of course, I doubt that any of them were really as good-looking, sexy or as clean as Alexander Skarsgård's Viking Eric Northman in TRUE BLOOD which is based on the SOOKIE STACKHOUSE Series by Charlaine Harris, but it wouldn't be hard to deal with, would it?


     I have noticed there are a lot of romance novels featuring Viking themes with huge Viking heroes capturing the hearts of young beautiful Nordic women but why aren't there any about swarthy handsome Italians who explore and discover far off lands? I wouldn't mind a story centered around some tall, dark and Meditteraneanly handsome hero, would you?

     Oh well, until someone pens it, ... hmmm ... doesn't sound like a bad idea actually, perhaps I will. Until then, we're happy with our Vikings, aren't we? Romance Novels featuring Vikings, I mean -  like in Sandra Hill's newest release, THE NORSE KING'S DAUGHTER or perhaps in Connie Mason's VIKING!



     Regardless of whether you're of the school that the Vikings were the true discoverers of the New World or a traditionalist who believes Columbus should have the credit ... aren't you glad somebody had the courage, incentive and flat out GUTS to cross that huge ocean and see what lay beyond?  Thank you Vikings and Christopher Columbus ... Happy Columbus Day! 

     Happy Reading Everyone!


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