Sons of Norway
Grieg Lodge 657 District 5
The First Lodge in Ohio
Sons, Daughters, and Friends of Norway
Per Flem, Editor
Greetings to all…
The holidays are coming and I thought I share some authentic Norwegian Christmas traditions to help us get in the “spirit”.
Did you know that, “Norwegians drink approximately 10 million liters of beer during December, a quantity surpassed only during the hottest July. Juleol (Christmas beer) — commercially brewed since 1936—accounts for over half of this amount.”
So writes Kathryn Stokker in her scholarly, but delightful, study of Norwegian and Norwegian American Christmas traditions, "Keeping Christmas: Yuletide Traditions in Norway and the New Land."
The time we now call Christmas, Stokker tells, was for the old Norwegians a harvest celebration more like an extended Halloween than what we call "the holidays." Not only were the Norwegian peasants seriously concerned about Halloween-type goblins, as they brought in the harvest during the shortening days, they had the “nisse” to honor.
Stokker's book shows us the deep meaning of the old Norwegian Christmas. And she shows how the Norwegians struggled to keep some vestige of the old Christmas while accepting the materialistic and hurried Christmas of the New World. For the practical minded, "Keeping Christmas" also includes some old-fashioned Norwegian recipes for delicacies such as Goro and Krumkaker.
While Stokker is spinning her wonderfully told stories of old and not so old . Norwegian Christmas, she puts meaning into all of our struggles to eke out joy and meaning from the rush and crush of our contemporary holiday season. Her book, published by the Minnesota Historical Society in both hardcover and soft, is a pleasure to read and contemplate.
I recently purchased two copies of this book and gave one copy to Per Flem and the other one to Linda Burge. I have placed the book in their hands so they can suggest, along with others, ideas and suggestions to help us to keep a “Norwegian Christmas” this year.
Our September Sons of Norway meeting was great. Several of us were able to sit around a table together and have an extended visit. It was great to feel the synergism as I listened to all of your wonderful ideas for Jule Fest. A huge, “Tusen Takk” (thousand thanks) to Sandy Nelson for making arrangements to have the meeting at her community building.
Remember, this is your Lodge. Let’s work together and have fun.
God bless you all,
The October 15th meeting will be on “Lief Ericson, and the world”, at the Mallards of Mason Clubhouse, 7487 Somerset Road, Mason. Susie Mikaloff will present her unit on Lief Ericson, which she has taught to students in Springboro. Susie will also have a lefse demonstration, with sampling. Dinner at 6:00PM. Bring a main dish, an extra dish or dessert and your own table service. Call Sandy Nelson at 336.9810 if you need directions and to RSVP. More details on website.
The November 19th meeting will be a business meeting, “Past, Present, and Future”. Membership pins will be presented. 30 year pin: Janice Ohlsen,20 year pin: Ann Christiansen and Susie Mikaloff, 15 year pin: William Halverson, Helen Hippert, Robert Price, Neil Sorum, Thomas Traunt,10 year pin, Jan Garnaes-Johnson, Carol Olson, Vicki Petreman. Since there are 53 members eligible for 5 year pins, they will be distributed as requested (by Nov.10th) only. Please call me, Per Flem at 739-6240 if you wish to receive 5 year pins. The meeting will be at 3:00PM at friendship Methodist Church, 1025 Springfield Pike, in Wyoming.
The December 17th meeting will be an all-out effort to make this the most meaningful event of the year. The program will start early with members cooking old time favorites. Singing around the tree, and then re-enacting those traditions that make a Norwegian Christmas very special. Specialty foods of course will be eagerly anticipated. Members are encouraged to bring grandchildren, and other guests. Karl has invested in a number of books, ”KEEPING CHRISTMAS” by Kathleen Stokker, which describes the evolution of Christmas traditions in Norway, and how they were assimilated into the New World.
Depending upon which part of Norway these Norwegian immigrants grew up, dictated some widely differing traditions. Ham on the west coast, lamb in the east, vegetables for the wealthy in large cities, and always various home brews that were always highly complimented in order to get some more samples. Neighborhood “visits” were a big feature, and providing superior hospitality was a method of maintaining one’s status in the village. This was in a period before automobiles, when visits meant a trip that might take hours in a row boat or horse drawn cart, in the midst of winter. It puts perspective for us here in Cincinnati when schools are closed when we get 4” of snow.
About a year ago we had a picture of palm trees in Norway that seemed suspect to some readers, here on an island named Sor Fjaere, west of Stavanger is proof that palm trees do grow in Norway. The couple that has made this”Eden”, Olav and Siri Bryn have resorted to tricks such as windbreaks to keep temperatures warm enough to protect their 25 varieties of palm trees. Picture by Alf Ove Hansen, from Aftenposten. Isn’t this typical of the Norwegian psyche? When someone says you can’t do something, there is a Norwegian out there, that just has to prove them mislead
Selg ikke skinnet for bjornen er skutt.
Don’t sell the skin before the bear’s been shot.
Bak skyen er himmelen alltid bla.
Behind the clouds the sky is always blue.
For mye klokskap er darskap.
Too much cleverness is foolishness.
Vennskap ender ofte med kjaerlighet, men kjaerlighet ender aldri med vennskap.
Friendship often ends with romance, but romance never ends with friendship.
Puffins, at Bjornoya Island, by Ole Magnus Rapp, from Aftenposten.
Cultural, language from Sons of Norway
Matpakke, pronounced ma’t/pakke (noun, common gender: lunch box, lunch bag.
In literal terms, the Norwegian matpakke, is just a lunch bag-or food pack, to be precise. Typically a matpakke is a small, square box with handles, just big enough for an open faced sandwich, a piece of fruit and perhaps a cookie or two. This humble conveyance is a Norwegian cultural icon. In Norway eating in restaurants can be extremely expensive; so packing a matpakke full of homemade food is both practical, and appeals to Norwegian cultural values like self-sufficiency and thrift.
“All this time when I packed peanut and butter sandwiches, I was being culturally thrifty, not cheap, as I thought”.(Editor)
Sean Erichsen O'Brien, Sally Lund, Patrick Johnson, Chris Buselmeier, Roby Bowman, Nelda Chandler, Birgit Jorgensen, Bailey Stone.
Peter Olson, Dianne Clark, Nina Downs, Ed Vallette, Ann Christiansen, Thomas Traut, Glenn Mikaloff, Annelise Sarwar, Kaleb Flem.
Bette Keppler, Lois Evensen, Susan Mikaloff, Kari Poe, Esther Charlton, Edmund Charlton, Neil Sorum, Carol Olson, Joe Santora, Konrad Nelson
Good News! Nina Downs has joined our lodge. She has spent many summers in Norway staying with her grandmother. Nina is ready and willing to teach us some Norwegian. We might have a "phrase of the month" at our lodge meeting and figure out other times to get together to learn Norwegian.
There have been several inquires about our lodge via our lodge website. One is regarding the flyer that is posted in the Scandinavian room at Jungle Jim's. If you have suggestions or ideas on how to publicize our lodge contact me.
Esther Charlton, membership secretary
August Meeting Review
Our August meeting was hosted by Kurt, and Linda Burge at their Lake Loreli hutte. Kaleb went out on the jet ski before we had a little shower, but after a hot dog/hamburger/shrimp picnic, fishing was the focus, sporting-event wise. It proves that after a shower the fish like to bite. Isn’t that right Kaleb? A little planning started to take place regarding our Christmas program towards the end of the day. We are going to have the biggest party if all goes as planned, satisfying the youngest to oldest in our membership. The theme is based upon old time traditions in food and culture. Please plan on joining the group by participating in the planning, preparation and the party itself to get maximum enjoyment during the holiday season.
Linda and Kurt, we all thank you for your hospitality and graciousness in hosting our meeting.
Going to work in Norway sometimes has other challenges.
The highway, which links Trondheim and Flakk, was closed last Thursday morning and will likely not be open until later this week. Police were notified about the massive stone around 9 a.m. last Thursday.
"There were no cars when the stone came down. Now the road is blocked in both directions and will be for days. There are still some minor slides in the area and security measures must be taken before the highway can be reopened," said Tore Kyllo of South Trøndelag police district.
Kyllo said it was highly unlikely that the road could be opened by the weekend but said that no residences were in danger due to the minor avalanches along the mountainside.
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