Sons of Norway Archives - Page 2 of 7 - Eva Varga


November 16, 2015

My kids presently are working on earning their first Cultural Skills pin in cooking from Sons of Norway. They have opted to begin with Level 2: Baked Goods & Desserts and as the holiday season is upon us, I thought it the perfect Christmas Hopscotch.

Each day this week, I will be sharing one of our favorite Scandinavian recipes for the holiday season or høytiden. Try one and I guarantee you will want to make them all!

Christmas cookies are a must-have for any Christmas celebration and baking them at home is a great way to bring the family together. There are many wonderful cookie recipes in Norway some of the more popular cookies are:

  • pepperkaker or gingerbread,
  • krumkaker (waffle cookie curved in a cone shape),
  • sandkake or sand cakes that are simple short cake baked in molds and filled with jelly, and
  • fattigmann (poor man), a recipe that dates backs to over 100 years ago.

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Nordic Almond Bars @EvaVarga.netMy daughter’s favorite Nordic inspired cookies are Nordic Almond Bars and thus we begin …

Nordic Almond Bars

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Milk
1/2 cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
Almond Icing

Materials Suggested

Rolling Pin
Mixing Bowl
Pastry Brush
Electric Mixer
Cookie Sheet
Oven

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Nordic Almond Bars @EvaVarga.netRecipe

Step 1

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Stir together flour, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside. Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar; beat until combined. Beat in egg and almond extract. Add flour mixture; beat until combined.

Step 2

Divide dough into four equal portions. Form each portion into a 12-inch long roll. Place two rolls 4 to 5 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Using your hands, flatten each roll until it is 3 inches wide. Repeat with the remaining rolls on another cookie sheet. Brush flattened rolls with milk and sprinkle with almonds. Bake one sheet at a time in a preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. While still warm, slice diagonally into 1-inch wide pieces. Transfer to wire racks; cool. Drizzle with Almond Icing. Makes 48.

5 Favorite Christmas Recipes: Nordic Almond Bars @EvaVarga.netAlmond Icing

In a small mixing bowl stir together 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, and enough milk (3 – 4 teaspoons) to make an icing of drizzling consistency.

Place in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze undecorated cookies for up to 3 months. Thaw cookies, then drizzle.

~ ~ ~

Join me tomorrow when I share our annual tradition of making Lefse! What will I share later in the week? You’ll have to come back to see! ?

Looking for more inspiration for a Nordic høytiden … read my earlier posts here and here.

5 Favorite Nordic Christmas Recipes @EvaVarga.net

It’s a holiday hopscotch! Join the iHomeschool Network bloggers for more Christmas themed posts all week!



July 3, 2015

One of our favorite outdoor activities involves just a few materials and is both challenging and fun. With a just a compass and a map, a variety of activities and obstacles courses can be designed to accommodate everyone. It is the perfect summer activity and can be easily integrated into your science or history curriculum.

Orienteering is what is called a lifetime sport; there’s something for everyone to enjoy, regardless of age or experience. Most events provide courses for all levels, from beginner to advanced.

This post contains affiliate links.

Getting Started with the Sport of Orienteering @EvaVarga.net

The history of Orienteering begins in the late 19th century in Sweden where it grew from military training in land navigation into a competitive sport for military officers. Eventually civilians caught on to the sport and the first public orienteering competition was held in Norway in 1897.

Orienteering courses can be set in any environment where an appropriate map has been made and a number of variations have been developed over the years. Some of the more intriguing variations include Night Courses, Trivia, and Relay Orienteering.

Orienteering with Kids can be a lot of fun. It is also a great confidence booster as they develop their navigational skills and can find their way through unknown territory.

To introduce kids to this wonderful sport, I have developed a simple introductory compass course activity to introduce the basics of using a compass for upper elementary and middle school students. It has been very popular with our local homeschool community and I am delighted to share it with you.

Introduction to Orienteering @EvaVarga.netIn my eBook, Introduction to Orienteering, I have included detailed instructions on the use of a compass and outlined a simple Compass Course activity to introduce kids to the sport of Orienteering. In addition, I have compiled numerous enrichment activities that incorporate the use of a compass and topographical maps.

With the Introduction to Orienteering unit study, students will develop the navigational skills and experience to feel confidant in participating in larger, community-wide Orienteering events. You can find more information about these opportunities by visiting the Orienteering USA website.

The Compass Course activity is also a part of my Earth Logic: Our Dynamic Earth curriculum, a 10 week hands-on earth science curriculum unit study on the geology of our Earth.

While the compass has not changed dramatically since it was first invented by the Chinese during the Han dynasty, many other navigational tools have been invented. We loved reading about the tools early explorers used to navigate in North Star Geography and have enjoyed using some of these tools ourselves. I have shared a few of our activities in my post, Sailing Ships & Navigation.



May 25, 2015

Summer is upon us and I am delighted. I have been battling with a growing feeling of burden upon me. I can’t seem to shake the desire to just drop everything and run into the hills.

My husband says I do too much, that my burdens are self imposed. I know he is right yet the eager beaver within me has a hard time letting go.

As obligations have begun to fall aside with the changing season, we have been giving thought to our summer plans. Vowing to relax and enjoy the sunshine a little more, we’ve settled upon the following activities.

More Art Journaling

Over the past year we have begun to dabble a little with art journaling, incorporating it into literature circle. It has been a fabulous way to express ourselves, combining art and words. We have begun to explore new media, mixing paints and printed papers to create unique art pieces.

Celebrate Summer: Mixed Media Workshop
We are looking forward to celebrating the delights of summertime by turning them into beautiful art under the tutelage of Alisha Gratehouse. Alisha offers a wonderful e-course, Celebrate Summer: Mixed Media Workshop. These projects are not your typical “summer camp” crafts. Each is a unique work of art to encourage your child to explore his or her creative talents.

Heritage Camp

The kids attended the Sons of Norway Heritage Camp last year for the first time and had an absolute blast! They have been looking forward to returning again this year and have been working hard to earn money to help offset the cost of the camp.

heritagecamp1Classes will again include Rosemaling, folk dancing, heritage, crafts, and Norwegian language. This year campers will learn money management with bank books, Norwegian Krone, a daily kanteen for purchasing special treats, and much more authentic Norwegian food at mealtimes.

Junior Olympics Swim Meet

The kids have been a part of swim team since we first moved to California. As is typical, JOs conflicts with heritage camp on the calendar. I thereby gave the kids the choice, “JOs or camp? You can’t do both.”

Last year, they were both in new age divisions and while they improved their individual times, only one qualified for JOs. After a short discussion, they agreed they would rather go to the meet with both competing. They were also eager to experience heritage camp.

junior olympics teamThis year they’ve both qualified in numerous events and their coach is encouraging them to compete. As we expected, camp and JOs conflict once again. Fortunately, camp is only 40 miles away (as opposed to 170 miles as in 2014). We thereby plan to do both – albeit they will miss a day or two of camp.

Lake Days & Sailing

Last year we had the opportunity to take part in a wonderful sailing clinic. The kids loved it so much they have asked to become a member of the local yacht club so that we can utilize the sunfish sailboats all summer long.

sailing101Whether we pursue that option or not, I am not sure. I do know, however, that we will be getting out to the lake more regularly. The kids also want to camp more – so my plan is to pitch a tent a few evenings each month.

Training

I’ve also come to discover that I need to resume training – for both my physical and mental health. I know myself well enough to also know I need a little carrot to keep me on target with my fitness goals.

moonshine

I have thereby registered for a full marathon in late August. It will be my fourth – but I am building from scratch. I must focus on quality of my runs as well as build endurance and distance. I can’t let myself worry about speed – which was my Achilles heel years ago.

As before, Geneva has expressed interest in also running distance events. We will be running the Moonshine Trail Run again this year (in 2013 I did the 15K and she the 5K). I am excited to run it with her .. her pace, if I can keep up. 🙂



April 20, 2015

Growing up, I loved listening to my dad tell stories of when he was a child or those of his father and uncles. My favorite stories were those of Uncle Sam. I didn’t get a chance to meet Uncle Sam, but through my father’s words and stories of my ancestors, I was able to connect with him.

The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Your Ancestral Heritage @EvaVarga.netUncle Sam was born in 1875 in Norway, the youngest child of Jens Andersen and Aase Gunderson.  According to a family folktale passed down through the years, he so small when he was born that he could apparently fit inside a cigar box.  His family was surprised that he survived.

He came to the United States as a young man of approximately 19 years of age.  He spent a couple years in the Navy before his arrival. Sometime after he retired, he came to live with his nephew (my grandfather) and helped looked after the three boys (my dad and his two older brothers) during their adolescence.

It’s one thing to discover the riches of one’s heritage and culture, and quite another to experience it first-hand through recipes you can make at home, travel adventures with friends and family, language lessons, and more. You’ve found the perfect place to start because here I share a variety of avenues or paths those interested in exploring their own cultural heritage may follow.

BarnesklubbTaste Your Heritage Through Food

My maternal grandparents also shared stories of the homeland. My great grandfather had emigrated from Norway with his parents at the age of four. What I remember most fondly from my maternal grandparents, however, was watching my grandmother in the kitchen as she made:

Mmmm .. I can smell each of these traditional recipes now and my mouth waters.

What traditional foods and dishes is your culture known for? Do some research and find recipes online to try.  Do you have memories of a grandmother or aunt who always made a traditional dish for a holiday gathering? Consider putting together a collection of family recipes handed down through the generations. If you can, include photographs of your loved ones as well as the dishes.

Immerse Yourself in Your Heritage Through Literature

Ethnic literature is the body of written works by people from a distinctive culture, language, or religion. Like historical fiction, it provides us with a glimpse of life in other cultures. It helps to give the reader an idea of the life experiences of others.

Visit your local public library or a university library in your vicinity to research their selection of ethnic literature. What ethnic groups are represented at this library? What materials are available? Look up “Norway” and “Norwegian authors” (for example) in the online directory to see what you find. Talk to your librarian about what areas are expanding in the ethnic literature category.

Other ideas for exploring ethnic literature:

  • Participate in or establish a book club and read books by writers from your ancestral culture or an ethnic group of interest.
  • Keep a reading log of the books you’ve read.
  • Record an oral history (perhaps of an immigrant’s experiences).
  • Watch a film.
  • Read and attend a play.

Unleash Hidden Talents Through Folk Art & Handicrafts

Handicrafts include a wide variety of types of work where useful and decorative objects are made completely by hand or by using only simple tools. Folk art refers to art produced from an indigenous culture or other laboring tradespeople. In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic. Both often have cultural and/or religious significance.

rosemalingFor example, one of the handicrafts that we have begun to explore is Rosemaling. Rosemaling (meaning “rose painting”) is the name of a form of decorative painting that developed in Norway around the 1700s. The first rosemalers were inspired by artists from continental Europe, but over time developed their own unique styles. Most painters were poor, traveling artisans that would go from farm to farm painting rooms and furniture for comparatively wealthy landowners. Over time, different regions of the country developed their own distinctive styles.

Recreate Through Folk Dance & Music

Defining traditional folk music is a little ambiguous. One meaning often given is that of old songs, with no known composers; another is music that has been transmitted and evolved orally or performed by custom over a long period of time.Traditional folk music also includes most indigenous music. Evolving alongside music, of course, is folk dance.

My kids and I have had a blast learning about Norsk Folk Dance. We learned a few dances on our own – with the help of video tutorials and print resources. When they attended heritage camp this past summer, they learned a few more dances. We make a lot of mistakes but we certainly have A LOT of fun!

folkedans gruppeConnect with Your Ancestors Through Language

Language is often referred to as the soul of a culture. Whether one totally agrees with this or not, it is a fact that the language becomes very important to the preservation of a culture. Norwegian is spoken by a relatively small number of people – a little over 4 million people. When Norwegian immigrants arrived in the United States, the practicality of emphasizing English as the first language began to push Norwegian to the background. Most families thereby lost the ability to speak their ancestral language.

While it may not be possible to become fluent in your ancestral language, learning even a few phrases and perhaps a song or two is a great gift. You can find so many tutorials and videos on YouTube today. Other ideas for exploring your ancestral language:

  • Make contact with a person who is fluent and visit together once a week. Gradually increase your use of your ancestral language.
  • Make a chart of your relatives, going back at least as far as your grandparents. Write a paragraph in your ancestral language describing each person.
  • Interview a native speaker – perhaps a relative or fellow church member.
  • Choose 12 words or expressions also used in English and learn about their background. Write a short essay on each.

grotnesBest of All, If Resources Permit, Travel

Surrounded my Norwegian ancestors, hearing the stories of our ancestral homeland, and enjoying many foods and traditions of Norway, I had dreamed of traveling to Norway ever since I was a child. In May of 2011,  my wish came true.  Even more memorable was that we were able to travel as a family and I was thus able to share my passion with my children.  In an earlier blog series, Discovering Scandinavia, I share some of our experiences connecting with our family in Norway.

Where Can I Find More Resources?

The world is an amazing place. There are more than 6.5 billion people in the world today. Just how many different societies, cultures, and ethnic groups make up the world’s population is not certain. It is thereby not possible for me to cover all of the world’s cultures to direct you to specific resources for your ancestral heritage.

My goal is lead by example and to encourage you to begin a quest of your own. Perhaps one of these Top Pinterest Boards to Explore Cultural Heritage may help you get started.

I also teach a course through the Heritage Institute titled, Discover Your Heritage. This is the perfect opportunity for you to explore your ancestral stories while also earning university credit for your hard work.

This course will help elementary educators to develop an integrated heritage unit for your classroom. The purpose of this course is to promote and to preserve the heritage and culture of one’s ancestry and to celebrate our relationship with other countries.

If you are interested in learning more about Norway, I compiled the posts I have written here, Our Scandinavian Heritage. I have also shared a little of our heritage learning experiences here, Lessons in Heritage and Culture.

genealogy with kidsWhat About Genealogy?

Exploring the family genealogy is a great way for young people to learn about their history and understand the world. Kids love to hear about their own family history. Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history.

Genealogists use a variety of records to obtain information about a family including oral interviews, historical records, genetic analysis, and more. The results are often displayed in charts or written as narratives like the story of Uncle Sam I shared previously.

ultimateguides2015Hop over to the iHomeschool Network for more Ultimate Guides.

 



March 27, 2015

People have devised ways to keep track of the passing days for millennia. In Scandinavia, where the growing season is so short, this was particularly important. It was imperative to know the best time for the sowing of seed, or the time when cattle might safely be let out to graze.

In measures that varied from valley to valley, they notched off the days from that week in winter when the sun barely crept above the horizon, or from the day the ice broke up on the lake. The days were carved on a stick or board and eventually an elementary almanac of weather and crops evolved – the first “Farmer’s Almanac”, if you will.

Make Your Own Primstav or Calendar Stick @EvaVarga.netThe Primstav, or calendar stick, served our nordic ancestors for seven centuries as a guide long before the invention of  printing. With the arrival of Christianity, the Primstav evolved as a religious calendar to keep track of the saints’  days.

Each day was represented by a notch on the stick and the year was divided into two halves. One side of the Primstav represented the summer season, beginning on April 15, and the other side represented winter, beginning on October 15. Symbols were carved onto the primstav as a reminder of merkedager (significant dates). Saints’ days were often marked by symbols representing the circumstances of their martyrdom.

Red Letter Days

A red letter day is any day of special significance. In Norway, Sweden, Denmark and some Latin American countries, a public holiday is sometimes referred to as “red day” (rød dag), as it is printed in red in calendars.

Here are a few of the merkedager Norwegians observed throughout the year.

  • April 14 – Summer Day (symbolized with a tree or branch) – The beginning of summer
  • June 24 – St. John the Baptist or Jonsok (an hourglass or sun) – Originally a solstice celebration and rededicated to St. John the Baptist
  • Oct 14 – Winter Day (a mitten) – The beginning of winter
  • Feb 22 – St. Peter’s Day (a key) – According to legend, St. Peter threw hot stones in water to keep it from freezing. His keys to the kingdom of heaven serve as a  reminder that ice may be too thin to walk on safely.

Look here for examples of Primstav dates, symbols and meanings.

Make Your Own Primstav or Calendar Stick @EvaVarga.netMake Your Own Primstav

For Barnesklubb this month, we learned how to make our own Primstav using the tutorial provided by Keith Homstad in the July 2011 issue of the Viking (a magazine for members of Sons of Norway).  I have summarized the steps here for those interested in taking on this challenge – a wonderful hands-on history project.

Materials:

  • Pencils and erasers
  • Sandpaper
  • Flat piece of wood (3 feet long, 1 1/2 inches wide, and 1/4-inch thick)
  • Permanent markers or wood burning tool
  • Howard Wood Polish or other furniture polish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Sand the stick to remove any rough edges.
  2. With a pencil, mark 1 1/2 inches from each end. One end will be the handle and the opposite end will be the “far end”.
  3. Choose one side for “summer” and measure 22 3/4 inches from the far end. Starting here, use a pencil to make 182 marks along the edge about 1/8 inch apart and 1/8 inch long.
  4. On the reverse side, measure 23 inches from the “far end” and mark off 184 marks along the edge for the “winter” side.
  5. On the “winter” side, the first mark (nearest the handle) is Winter Day on October 14th. Continue marking off 30 days for November, and 31 for December and January. Mark off 28 days for February, then make one marks for February 29 (Leap Year Day). Continue marking off 31 days for March and the first 13 days of April.
  6. On the “summer” side, Summer Day marks the beginning on April 14.  Count off the remaining 17 days of April. Continue marking 31 days for May, 30 days for June, 31 days for July and August, 30 days for September, and the first 13 days of October.
  7. You may now begin to customize your Primstav by adding important family dates and any major holidays. Create a special icon or symbol for each event.
  8. Decorate the handle as you desire – perhaps with your name and the year you made your primstav.
  9. When you are happy with the design, consider using a wood burning tool to mark them permanently. Younger children can use a permanent marker.
  10. To protect your Primstav, you may also wish to apply a coat of furniture polish.

Make Your Own Primstav or Calendar Stick @EvaVarga.netPrimstav Alternatives

As an alternative to the traditional carved or wooden Primstav, I can’t tell you how much I LOVE this Embroidered  Primstav. Embroidery is an art that has always enchanted me. I love this so very much that it is now a goal of mine to create my own. Thank you, Pam!!

 



September 16, 20141

One of the activities my children most enjoyed about summer camp was the opportunity to explore the folk art of Rosemåling in more depth. We had been introduced to this delightful art a year or so ago when I invited one of our talented lodge members to give a presentation to Barnesklubb (Scandinavian Kid’s Club).

You ask, What is Rosemåling? If you have seen the latest Disney movie, Frozen, you are likely familiar with Rosemåling.

Rosemåling, or rosemaling, Norwegian for “decorative painting”, is the name of a form of decorative folk art that originated in the rural valleys of Norway. Rosemåling is a style of decorative painting on wood that uses stylized flower ornamentation, scrollwork, lining and geometric elements, often in flowing patterns. Many other decorative painting techniques are used such as glazing, spattering, marbelizing, manipulating the paint with the fingers or other objects, etc.

When the kids wrote home, they hinted about a project they were doing in Rosemåling class but they didn’t give any details because they wanted it to be a surprise.  When I picked them up at the conclusion of camp, I was indeed surprised. Their work was astonishing … especially for beginners!

Pictured below are the two Mangebørds they painted in class. Traditionally, Mangebørds were made by young men wishing to marry a young lady.  He would place the Mangebørd on her porch or doorway and return the following day. If the Mangebørd had been brought into the house, her reply was yes. However, if the Mangebørd was still where he had left it, her reply was no. If he wanted to marry another young woman in the future, he would have to make another Mangebørd (on a cautionary note: beware of the man with many Mangebørds).

rosemaling

Question :: Can you identify which style of Rosemaling is shown here?

Various Styles of Rosemaling:

  • Telemark
    The Telemark style is asymmetrical with a root center from which a scroll branches out with leaves and flowers that are varied and irregular. Designs are “fantasy-like” and transparent. (In recent years a shaded, opaque Telemark is preferred.)
  • Hallingdal
    Baroque scrolls and acanthus leaves wrap around a central flower. The designs are symmetrical, using opaque color and not generally shaded. Backgrounds are red, black-green, dark green, and a lighter blue-green.
  • Valdres
    Flowers are grouped in a bouquet or garland, gathered in an urn or hanging from a rope. Realistic flowers can be identified and given a name. Leaves are slender, long, s-shapes with a second s turning it at the end. Flowers grow from blue landscapes.
  • Rogaland
    In Rogaland, flowers are more important than scrolls and leaves. Tulips, stylized roses, 4 and 6-petal flowers, and the daisy pull-out are used. Designs are symmetrical. Opaque colors on dark backgrounds, and the use of cross-hatching, dots and teardrops characterize Rogaland.
  • Os
    Typically backgrounds are white or red. Designs include geometric shapes such as cubes and squares, and architectural motifs such as churches or fine houses. Flowers, both symmetrical and asymmetrical are grouped on stems. Heavy line detail on leaves. Transparent, bright colors,and saw-toothed borders are used.
  • Gudbrandsdal
    Gudbrandsdal style is an imitation of carving. Acanthus scrolls and leaves predominate in a C with an S extension. Shading gives leaves a 3-dimmensional look. The flowers used are tulips and 6 or 8-petal roses that center in the C and, again, in the S above. Often symmetrical.
  • Vest Agder
    Symmetrical and somewhat geometric. Typified by light colors on a dark background, teardrops by the dozen along the leaves and scrolls. Opaque colors, not shaded, and with red, black and white overlays are typically used. Oval flowers are split down the middle with contrasting colors.
Answer :: The Rosemaling style that is pictured above is Valdres.
 

Upon their return from camp, the kids said they wanted to explore Rosemåling in more depth and to earn the Cultural Skills pin. In Barnesklubb, we thereby kicked off the new school year with an introductory lesson.

My kids, now more knowledgeable than I, gave a short lesson to their peers about the styles of Rosemåling and then led them through a few simple strokes.