Conspiracy Theory: Spongebob, Christopher Columbus, Leif Erikson

Conspiracy Theory: Spongebob, Christopher Columbus, Leif Erikson

Here are five things you probably didn’t know about Spongebob Squarepants.

His friend, Squidward, isn’t a squid! The tentacled intellectual wanna-be is an octopus.

Spongebob creator Steve Hillenburg was a marine biologist and science teacher who went to art school to study cartoon drawing. Like his well-loved character, Hillenburg once worked as a fry cook at a seafood restaurant.

Spongebob’s favorite holiday (besides April Fools) is Leif Erikson Day!

That Leif Erikson thing, baffled us the most. Like what?! Why?

That Leif Erikson thing baffled us the most. Like what?! Why?

You'd probably miss this unless you’re into Vikings and Celtic history.

For all of us who aren’t residents of Bikini Bottom (or the United States, for that matter), Leif Erikson Day is an actual United States holiday honoring the Icelandic explorer believed to be the first European to reach the shores of North America.

This means that for some, Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America.

The Leif Erikson Day, a non-federal holiday, is celebrated every 9th October. And here’s a fun fact. In Scandinavia and Iceland, Leif is pronounced as “lay,” like the word “safe.” Not “life” as we’ve come to know it.

It doesn’t get as much credit because it is close to Monday’s Columbus Day, a federal holiday (which is celebrated every second Monday of October).

Every 9th of October is a typical day for most people. Nobody gets off work – not government employees, not private sector workers, and most certainly not students. Boo hoo.

Here’s the most significant controversy for the two. Christopher Columbus is said to discover America in the year 1492. Leif Erikson is said to have done the feat in 1001 AD, or nearly 500 years before Columbus.

Time has done little to quell the controversy.

People believe he and the ensuing European settlers weren’t exactly kind to the Native Americans. Because of this, he certainly didn’t deserve the praise and recognition.

Instead, the credit should have gone to Leif Erikson, according to most people.

The controversy between Christopher Columbus and Leif Erikson

When the United States celebrated the 400th anniversary of Columbus in 1892, Italian Americans and immigrants found the festivity a source of pride.

However, Americans of northern European descent and Scandinavian immigrants couldn’t disagree more. Archeologists have unearthed evidence of ancient Viking communities in North America. And they expect to find more in the coming years.

People have always been drawn towards Erikson, not only for his nationality. In the 19th century, non-Catholic Americans were always wary of the Catholic Church. Some Protestants even believe that Columbus was part of a vast Roman Catholic scheme to suppress America’s acknowledgment of Norse explorers.

It still isn’t clear if people believed in this plot. But with the heated anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant sentiments, it was a good reason for them to argue for Erikson’s recognition over Columbus.

Italian Americans and the Knights of Columbus (a Roman Catholic organization) lobbied for Columbus Day in Congress for years. The founder of Colorado’s Italian newspaper helped establish the first official Columbus Day in 1907. Fifteen states followed suit. And by 1971, it developed into a federal holiday as we know it. The victory of Columbus Day should be credited to the aggressive lobbying made by Italian Americans. They recognize that though he wasn’t first, Columbus undeniably played a more significant part in European migration.

On the other hand, Leif Erikson Day had its campaigners, but they never gathered the same momentum. It’s been a national day of observance since 1954, but it remains a little-known trivia item.

For now, it’s no longer a matter of who was first. Instead, it's who should be remembered. For most Americans, it’s still the Indigenous people who inhabited America way before all these explorers set foot on American soil.

Indigenous People’s Day is a holiday that honors Native Americans and commemorates their history and culture. Not coincidentally, it is held on the second Monday of October – the same day as Columbus Day.

And as for Spongebob Squarepants? We certainly know whose team he’s on.

Do you agree with dear old Spongebob?

What do you think about this controversy? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

The controversy between Christopher Columbus and Leif Erikson

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