“On we sweep, with threshing oar…”

It may not be a day off from work, but today, my fellow Americans, is Leif Eriksson Day. By happy coincidence, I’m teaching The Saga of the Volsungs tonight. Why not find your own way to mark this marvelous manifestation of medievalism?

If your belly cries out for a taste of goopy, chilled curds, then swing by your local Whole Foods. It’s the only chain in the U.S. that sells skyr, the “yogurt” of the Vikings, in all its tart, rennety goodness.

It’s never too early to plan a trip to L’Anse aux Meadows, the remote site in Newfoundland where the Northmen landed. (Just be prepared to eat the occasional cod tongue.)

Why not groove to a little neo-Viking pop? Take in a Skitamorall video or two, or read a very old article about Sigur Ros.

If you’re pining for the fjords, you can order a VHS copy of The Outlaw, the 1981 film adaptation of Gisli’s Saga, for only $68.63. You can specifically commemorate Leif Eriksson by reading the Vinland Sagas—or, for kicks, you can read the Havamal:

Deyr fé, deyja fraendr,
deyr sjálfr it sama;
en orðstírr deyr aldregi
hveim er sér góðan getr.

Deyr fé, deyja fraendr,
deyr sjálfr it sama;
ek veit einn at aldri deyr:
dómr um dauðan hvern.

Wealth dies, kin die,
The self must die as well;
But reputation never dies
For one who can obtain it.

Wealth dies, kin die,
The self must die as well;
I know one thing that never dies:
The renown of every dead man.

Leif Eriksson surely knew these bits of Nordic wisdom. A thousand years later, these eddic verses still find validation in the statues and airports that bear his name. Like this quasi-holiday, they’re unlikely and often overlooked tributes to a brave and lucky traveler—the one medieval Icelander whose name we Vinlanders are most likely to remember.

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