Norsemen from Greenland and Iceland were the first Europeans to reach North America in what is today Newfoundland in Canada when Leif Ericson reached the Continent via Norse settlements in Greenland around the year 1000. Nearly a thousand years later many Norwegian immigrants went to the United States primarily in the second half of the nineteenth and the first few decades of the twentieth century.
According to the most recent United States census there are more than four and a half million Norwegian Americans and most live in the Upper Midwest and currently comprise the tenth largest American ancestry group.
Ethnic Norwegian immigrants represent the seventh highest from Europe (Germany is highest) and this partly explains the inclusion of Norway at DisneyWorld EPCOT World Showcase.
In Minnesota, 868,361 Minnesotans claim Norwegian ancestry, 16.5% of the population of the State. No wonder then that in professional football the team from Minneapolis was officially named the Minnesota Vikings on September 27th 1960; the name is partly meant to reflect Minnesota’s importance as a centre of Scandinavian American culture.
The Club website helpfully explains. why it was chosen..
“it represented both an aggressive person with the will to win and the Nordic tradition in the northern Midwest.”
The association between Vikings and sport is not surprising because physical strength, speed, resilience and endurance were important qualities for a Viking. As in the USA, England has its own Vikings with the Widnes Vikings Rugby League Football Club.
Widnes was one of the original twenty-two rugby clubs that formed the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895, making them one of the world’s first rugby league teams. Their traditional nickname is ‘The Chemics’ after the main industry in Widnes, but the club now generally use their more modern nickname.
In Norway, the Football club from Stavanger is not just nicknamed Viking it is called Viking Stavanger. The National Team of Norway, who might be expected to be called The Vikings are in fact called Løvene which means Lions. Other National Teams that are called Lions are Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Senegal and Singapore,
England are called the Three Lions.