Sons of Norway
December, 2005

Edvard Grieg Lodge 657 District 5
Cincinnati-Dayton, Ohio
The First Lodge in Ohio
Sons, Daughters, and Friends of Norway
Per Flem, Editor

President’s Message

A Norwegian Christmas or Jule Fest  in Cincinnati

Christmas has long been the major Holiday for Norwegians. In my father’s house, Christmas was a time for family, fun, food and fish. It was a time for staying up late and listening to grandfather or “Pop”, as I lovingly called him, tell stories of the “Old Country”…Norway. 

To have a Jule Fest, much planning and preparations are necessary. A lot has already been accomplished, but we still need your help. In a few days I will be telephoning several of you to see if you would be interested in bringing food and other items to our Jule Fest. Will you volunteer to help make our first Jule Fest one to remember?

Two major factors will make our Jule Fest a great success. First, we are especially interested in having, as much as possible, a traditional Norwegian Christmas (No hotdogs, please). We want to promote foods, decorations, music and activities that are truly Norwegian. This would be a great time for you to be brave and “dig-out” some of your Norwegian family recipes that you haven’t tried yet.

Secondly, we want to be “family friendly”. We want to encourage our Lodge members to bring their children and grandchildren. We are going to do our best to have something for everyone and every age group. This would an excellent time for us to “re-connect” with members that we haven’t seen in several months, sort of a “let’s get reacquainted” time. Please make every effort to come and to encourage others to do likewise.

The Lodge is providing the meats. Per Flem is preparing the turkey and Pam Flem will supply the ham. We urgently need you to bring Norwegian side dishes. Here is a kindly suggestion; If you don’t know what Norwegian sides dishes to prepare, checkout some of the great recipes on the Internet.

There will be no charge for coming to the Jule Fest. All food will be provided by the gracious donations of our members. If you would like to contribute toward the purchase of a few inexpensive gifts for the children, that would be appreciated but not required. 

So, what is Jule Fest?

In Norway, Christmas is associated with white snow, candles, Santa Claus, decorations in red, green and gold, and the smell of homemade cookies. Christmas is definitely the number one family holiday in Norway.

Kathleen Stokker, a Norwegian language teacher associated with the University of Wisconsin, has written a wonderful book focusing specifically on Norwegian Christmas traditions. It is available in our library. 

Santa Claus in Norway 
... is called “Julenissen” and looks very much like the Santas found elsewhere in the world. However, there exists another character whose name ends with “nisse” in the Norwegian folklore exists - a peculiar figure named the “Fjøsnisse” (the barn “nisse”). For a long time, when most Norwegians were farmers, this “Nisse” was believed to be a secret helper in the barn. If the family on the farm was nice to him and left him a bowl of porridge every Christmas eve, he would be kind to them and help them the next year. If they didn’t, they could expect accidents, sick animals and mysterious noises. Who will make the porridge this year? 

Carol Stone ran into a cute, Cincinnati “nisse”couple, who will be with us this year at our Jule Fest. Please make them feel welcome when you see them.

Ginger Bread Houses:  
In December every year in Bergen, the inhabitants are invited to participate in the making of the world's biggest gingerbread city. Schools, kindergartens, anyone who wants to can make a gingerbread house and bring it to "Galleriet", a local shopping mall. All the gingerhouses, gingerboats, gingerschools, gingerpeople, and gingerconstructions are put on display in the top floor, together making up the largest gingerbread city.  We are going to construct a few gingerbread houses as one of our children’s activities at the Jule Fest.

Talking about baking great Norwegian deserts…

Kari Poe has agreed to share some of her fantastic recipes for Norwegian deserts on our website and we may be able to talk her into giving us a live demonstration earlier in the day at the Jule Fest. Telephone me at (513)304-8573 if you are interested in more information.  

Christmas preparations...  
...At home 
As the time gets closer to Christmas Eve, many families bake Christmas cookies. The tradition is that there must be at least seven different kinds of Christmas cookies on the table on Christmas Eve. Last year I discovered how much I didn’t know about baking cookies. The Cooks’ Ware Store, on Montgomery Road has some an entire line of cookie baking accessories and neat “Norwegian” nutcrackers.

Making marzipan or marzipan figures dipped in melted chocolate is also a popular way to prepare the holiday season.  In honor of this tradition we are going to try to have marzipan “pigs” for each of the children that come to the Jule Fest.

...In schools  
Many schools in Norway arrange Christmas workshops some days before the holidays start. Time is spent making Christmas cards and decorations (presents?).  My daughters, Korinn and Kathleen will be helping with this at our Jule Fest.

We will be learning and singing Norwegian Christmas carols and afterwards we will eat lots of cookies, just like several of our own families do in Norway. 

December 23rd: “Lille julaften”  
- “Little Christmas Eve” 
Most Norwegians decorate their Christmas tree in the evening of Dec. 23. The decorating of the house, and the tree is done by the entire family.  This is a “big” occasion in the Flem household. My wife, Pam, loves this part of the Season.

There is a star on the top of the tree, and electric candles-shaped lights on the branches. Tinsel, hearts, angels, nisser and sometimes flags are a part of the tree decoration. Heart shaped Christmas baskets made of colored, glossy paper is a decoration which s widely used. Likewise, we are going to be hand-making several different kinds of Norwegian Christmas tree ornaments at our Jule Fest.  

December 24th: Christmas Eve 
   Many families attend church services in the late afternoon. At twilight, many people go to the cemeteries and place candle lights at the graves of family members.  As the candles glow throughout the night, Christmas begins.

Linda Burge will share this warm and intimate Norwegian tradition.

Christmas dinner: 
The Christmas dinner varies throughout the country: The Christmas dinner is like a family reunion. The grandparents, parents, children (also if they are grown-ups) and sometimes aunts and uncles gather around the table. 

In western and Northern Norway, “Pinnekjøtt” (salted and steam boiled ribs from lamb) is served with potatoes. In the Eastern parts of Norway pork extremely is common, while in other areas “lutefisk” (fish steeped in lye!) is the main dish. These last years more and more have started having turkey for Christmas.

After dinner: 
Before the presents can be opened, the family walks around the Christmas tree holding hands and singing carols. Afterwards, they gather around the table for cookies and coffee, and may as soon as they want, start opening their presents. We will have plenty of coffee and cookies with your help. 

The way the gifts are distributed varies from family to family: Many families put the presents under branches of the tree before the dinner starts. When the caroling is done, the gifts are handed out, one by one, and opened so everyone can see what was inside (Each present is marked with a little tag saying "To:", "From:" and "Merry Christmas")- 

In other families, especially where there are small children, the father, grandfather or an uncle excuses himself after the meal and shortly after re-enters dressed as Santa Claus. He’ll bring a bag of gifts, deliver them, get a cookie, then leave for so to re-enter as father/grandfather/uncle (“Oh, Daddy, you just missed Santa!! You’re never here when Santa arrives...”). Santa just might drop in for a visit… 

December 25th: 
Is a quiet day spent mostly with the family. At the Christmas parties, games including singing and dancing are often played – Nina brought her Norwegian dance music CD’s to our last meeting and we are going to have them on display at the Jule Fest. You will love the music…  

December 31: New Year’s Eve 
At 5 o’clock the children go outside dressed in wacky costumes. They go from door to door singing carols and are rewarded with candy, cookies or oranges. In a way, it resembles a mixture of trick & treating and caroling. In some parts of Norway, the children don’t do this on New Year’s Eve but in the afternoons between the 27th and the 30th. The tradition is called to go "Nyttårsbukk". 

The fireworks start some hours before midnight, around 9pm and from it just builds up. Generally everyone sets off fireworks…like our American Fourth of July.

January 6 
The 13th day of Christmas - the day for taking down the decorations and getting rid of the tree if it hasn’t been done yet. 

“Christmas tree parties” - “Juletrefester” 
Many firms, companies, organizations and other institutions throw parties for the children of their employees (or members) in Early January. These parties are called “Christmas tree parties”, and even though it’s already past New Year, the theme of the party is always Christmas. The children are served hot-dogs (Now, it is okay, Ho! Ho! Ho!) and cookies, sing Christmas carols, play games, and form large circles and walk around a giant Christmas tree. Afterwards, Santa arrives with presents and candy to everyone. 

I want to thank everyone already involved in our Jule Fest preparations and to encourage others to take part in the fun. You make the Sons of Norway proud. God bless you and keep you during this most joyous time of the year.

Karl Flem


December meeting: Julefest

   December 17th marks the very first annual event of this nature for our lodge, beginning at 4:00PM at the Augsburg Lutheran Church on 11676 Hamilton Ave (just north of 275). Those interested in cooking lefse and krumkaka, might come a little earlier, and help with the preparations. Call Nelda or Carol Stone with your reservations, and describe what favorite appetizer you might be bringing.

   This is a children friendly event, with plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained. Cost will be$5.00 for adults, with children free. Many volunteers have spent a lot of time organizing this event, so if you only can make one meeting a year, this is the one everyone will talk about for the rest of the year (until 17th of May perhaps).


Scandinavian Society Lucia Fest 2005

Business Club of Montgomery

Sunday, December 4, 2005  -  5 p.m.

For information call Birgit Jorgensen

at  825-9358

Picture by Knut Snare, from Aftenposten.
This bridge is considerered by Norwegians to be the “Structure of the Century”.
South of Kristiansund, going to Molde in Eide,this is a most dramatic structure.


Member News

Birgit Jorgensen is recovering from hip replacement surgery.  We hear that Jorgen is a wonderful nurse.  Her recovery seems to be speeding along great.

Gretta Hahn received the Luther College Distinguished Service Award during their annual homecoming weekend, October 7 & 8.  This award is given in recognition of success and achievements in professional fields, contributions to community and loyalty and support for Luther College.  The lodge congratulates Gretta, and we hope to have program on Luther College.

Gary Morem one of our lodge members, has given the gift of membership to his two daughters.  We welcome Sheryl Bergman of Greenwood, Indiana and Deborah Byrnes of Alpharetta, Georgia to Edvard Grieg Lodge.  We trust that they will plan some family gatherings at our lodge meetings.



Gretta Hahn sent the editor a very nice article from Family Tree Magazine, December 2005 issue. This article is perhaps the most complete description of the various aspects of history, nomenclature, geography, and resources this reader has seen.

A few snippets:

When Peter Minuit bought Manhattan from the Indians, he had a Norwegian interpreter? Clearly an early emmigrant.

In 1825 the sloop Restauration left Stavanger for New York, which began the great tide of emigration. From 1866 to 1920, 700,000 Norwegians left for America., second only to Great Britain (this number is for Swedes as well since it was one country for most of this time period).

The use of true surnames started after 1850 in cities and 1900 in rural areas. The “patronymic” system (taking the father’s first name and adding

-son or -sen) was replaced many times by adopting the name of the city or farm (or island in my case).

The use of “Smed” for blacksmith is another anomaly similar to Smith in England.

First names followed a pattern as well. The first male child was named after the father’s father. The second boy is named after the mother’s father. The first daughter, after the maternal grandmother, and the second daughter after the paternal grandmother. Subsequent children were named after great grandparents. When a child died, not uncommon in those days, another child sometimes got the same name.

Tracing roots in Norway follows many different paths. Starting with the region in Norway where the relatives lived, the path leads to the parish which has some of the earliest records. Typically there are local books printed in each village, associated with the parish, describing each farm or household.

Norwegian parish records date from 1623. An address for these records on the internet is: www.

This lengthy and informative article can read by obtaining the December, 2005 back issue of Family Tree Magazine. Call 1-800-258-0929 to order, or email me: to see my copy.




Bette Keppler[4], Lois Evensen[5], Susan Mikaloff[7], Kari Poe[8], Esther Charlton[12], Edmund Charlton[13], Neil Sorum[15], Carol Olson[16], Joe Santora[28], Konrad Nelson[29]   


Ray Olson[1], Francis Kosobud[1], Adelheid Haugan Price[19], Kelly Lawson[28], Willy Tychesen[28], Margie Mays[29], Donna Marstrander[30].


Luke Sutphin[1], Nancy Johnson[2],  Jan Garnaes-Johnson[6], Patsy Bannick[6}, Ryan Soderberg[14], Sylvia Casas[15], Linda Burge[17], Jo Marie Karam[20], Mark Kodobud[20], Nicholas Karam[25].

Bits and pieces

A recent problem in southern Norway has been drunk moose (mooses?). The intoxication has been caused by a mild fall, where the fruit has stayed on the branches of the trees, then a quick freeze. Here in America, Ice Wine is made much the same way, where the fermentation begins to take place right on the vine. Like people, there are good drunks and bad drunks amongst the moose population, and the bad drunks get the attention. Running into stores, houses, cars, statues of other moose, seem to get the headlines. More often though, homeowners on their way out of the house in the morning find the moose sound asleep in the back yard under the apple tree. Remember these are big, big animals.

   The centennial year for Norway is drawing to a close. The final break from Sweden, and the establishment of a monarchy is 100 years old. The royal family had a ball last Sunday, with 500 of their closest friends. The picture, courtesy of Aftenposten, was taken by Jon Eeg . More pictures for those inclined live vicariously can be seen at .

Leif Torkelson:

   From a Bergen newspaper, an obituary for our friend Leif, bought home by Linda Burge:

Var alles kjaere

Leif Torkelsen


dode 13.juni 2005



Aida Olinda --Roald (USA)

Carmen Elizabeth (USA)

Carolyn (USA)


Betzy (USA)



Nieser og nevoer.

Vi minnes deg alle med glede

og takknemlighet.


Karl Flem
9436 Morrow-Woodson Rd.
Pleasant Plain, OH 45162
Vice President
Nelda Chandler
11409 Geneva Rd.
Forest Park, OH 45440
Carol Stone
224 Countryside Dr.
Lebanon, OHo 45036

Carol Luiso
1006 Paxton Lake Dr.
Loveland, OH 45140

Social Chairman
(Position Open)
Lois A. Evensen
PO Box 9450
Cincinnati, OH 45209
Raffle Chairman
Susie Mikaloff
7472 Stone Ridge Dr.
 Springboro, OH 45066
Donna Sutphin
7521 Mansion Circle
Mason, Ohio 45040
Publicity Chairman
(Position Open)
Foundation Chairman
Lance Larsen
1022 Crisfield Dr.
Cincinnati, OH 45245
Robert Kyvik
2555 Goodfield Pt.
Dayton, OH 45458
Esther Charlton
3798 Susanna Drive
Cincinnati, OH 45254

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United We Stand