Sons of Norway Archives - Page 3 of 7 - Eva Varga


August 29, 20145

Sons of Norway lodges are found throughout the United States, Canada, and Norway. Together, we work tirelessly to promote Norwegian traditions and fraternal fellowship through cultural activities and social opportunities. These activities include language camps and classes, scholarships, handicrafts, cooking and heritage classes, heritage and sports programs, travel opportunities, Viking Magazine, and outreach programs sponsored by the Sons of Norway Foundation.

The mission of Sons of Norway is to promote and to preserve the heritage and culture of Norway, to celebrate our relationship with other Nordic Countries, and provide quality insurance and financial products to our members.

Each district hosts a heritage camp for the children and grandchildren of members (our heritage members). Ever since my kiddos were toddlers, we have talked about going to heritage camp. They have looked forward to the opportunity and been eager to meet other lodge heritage members. Due to one circumstance or another, this was the first year that they were able to attend.

In our district, heritage camp is a two week experience filled with reverie and cultural traditions. While they were a little nervous (especially my son who had not previously been away from us for more than two nights – and then he was staying at Grandma’s), they gave us a big bear hug before gingerly bounding down the steps to their tent sights to get settled into camp.

I have been wanting to write this most for weeks now and am delighted to finally share some of their experiences with you. I thought a little tongue-in-cheek would do well. 🙂

heritagecamp1

5 Signs You Might Be Norwegian

You might be Norwegian if you are eager to throw a few belongings into a longboat and forge your own way across treacherous seas. Your adventurous spirit knows no bounds!

The fact that these kids spent two weeks away from home – without the trappings of modern devices they’ve become so fond of – is a testament to the their Nordic spirit of adventure!

They really connected with one another and forged strong bonds of friendship that will last a lifetime. Now that they are back home, they have connected on Instagram and write letters to one another. They are already talking about next year’s camp and have pledged to go every year.

My kids even connected with one another – seeing their sibling as a partner and ally, rather than a thorn in their side. Upon their return from camp, they argue less and play together more often.

Their experience at camp not only built relationships but also built character.

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You might be Norwegian if you have no qualms about dressing up in heavy woolen bunads and thick woolen sweaters in the incessant heat of summer. The bunad is a traditional Norwegian costume worn by both men and women.

Today the bunad is worn for celebrations and special occasions.  During the wedding season (May-June), you often see Norwegians dressed in their bunads on Saturdays walking to and from Churches.  Baptisms and Confirmations, Balls and Norwegian Constitution Day are typically bunad wearing days.

At camp, the kids were fortunate to have access to bunads in a multitude of sizes. They donned the traditional costume proudly (see the photo above) and recognized the importance of honoring traditions.

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You might be Norwegian if you believe in Trolls, Huldra, Nisse, and numerous other mythological creatures.  The Vikings were not only raiders and warriors, but also skilled navigators, craftsmen, traders and storytellers.

At camp, the kids enjoyed learning about Norse mythology. One of the stories they shared was that of the Huldra or Skogsrå (forest wife/woman), a dangerous seductress who lives in the forest and lures men down into an endless cave  or into the forest in order to secure her freedom. She has a long cow’s tail that she ties under her skirt in order to hide it from men. If she can manage to get married in a church, her tail falls off and she becomes human.

heritagecamp2

You might be Norwegian if you are eager to earn knots. While the Vikings have earned their place in history as a seafaring warrior culture with strong ties to the sea, the knots to which I refer are not sailor’s knots.

In the month before their final exams, graduating high school revellers in Norway are known as russ, an abbreviation for the Latin phrase cornua depositurus, which translates as ‘take off the horns’. The russ are easily recognizable in April and May, when russefeiring (russ celebration) is under way. They wear brightly colored, baggy trousers with big pockets, and a matching hat or cap with a long string at the end.

While the kids at heritage camp didn’t dress in jumpers, they did take part in a variety of skits and pranks that could compare to the russ tradition of competing for russeknuter, or knots – badges of honour which have to be earned in a variety of bizarre ways.

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Finally, you might be Norwegian if you enjoy Lutefisk and Fiskebøller. At camp the kids had the opportunity to try numerous traditional Norwegian dishes.  As heritage members, many of the dishes were familiar but there were a few that were new to some of the kids.

Lutefisk (dried cod treated with lye) must surely be the strangest culinary effort credited to the Norwegians, but what a treat when prepared properly. Everyone of course is not a devotee of lutefisk, but those who are defend it vehemently. Others go to the opposite extreme and claim it’s a national disgrace.

Fiskebøller are white balls made up of ground white fish and served in a rather “naked” state only with a bechamel sauce, boiled potatoes, coleslaw or broccoli and asparagus.

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Heritage camp was a huge success! Attending camp meant that the kids missed the opportunity to compete in the long course Junior Olympics swim meet. While this was initially difficult, they made the decision partially because this year they would both be competing at the bottom of their age groups.

When we picked them up on the final day of camp, they were loudly proclaiming, “Camp was awesome! We want to go again every year!” knowing full well they would have to miss out on the Junior Olympics yet again.

The fact that their heritage is important to them made me very, very proud.

Many thanks to these kind blog hop hostesses:



June 8, 20145

What is a flag?  In the simplest of terms, a flag is a piece of fabric with a distinctive design used as a symbol, as a signaling device, or as decoration. First used for military purposes, flags today are potent patriotic symbols that evoke strong emotional feelings.

In honor of Flag Day 2014, I thought I would share with you a few ways in which we can honor our flag with activities to teach our kids.

Did you know, the study of flags is known as vexillology, from the Latin word vexillum, meaning flag or banner?

honoringourflagUnited States

In the United States, we honor our flag with a special holiday.  Though not a national holiday, Flag Day is celebrated each year on June 14th. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on that day in 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. Citizens are urged to fly America’s national flag and some organizations hold parades and special programs which include a ceremonial raising of the flag, recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and singing of the national anthem.  

Symbolism

The flag of the United States has undergone several changes as the country has grown.  However, over the years it has stayed true to the original design concept of Betsy Ross.  The 50 stars on the flag represent the 50 states of the United States of America and the 13 stripes represent the thirteen British colonies that declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain and became the first states in the Union. Nicknames for the flag include the “Stars and Stripes”, “Old Glory“, and “The Star-Spangled Banner“.

Activities

Follow these links for several great lessons and activities for middle and high school students:

  • Stars and Stripes Forever – a unit study to better understand the symbolism and history of our nation’s flag.
  • The Library of Congress suggests questions to ask students about the flag and related primary sources.
  • Explore the strong points of a Smithsonian Institution lesson on “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the War of 1812.
  • Learn about proper Flag Etiquette from my friend and fellow homeschool mom, Susan.

 honoring our flagNorway

Norwegian Constitution Day is the National Day of Norway and is an official national holiday observed on May 17 each year. Among Norwegians, the day is referred to simply as Syttende Mai (meaning May Seventeenth) or Nasjonaldagen (The National Day). 

A noteworthy aspect of the Norwegian Constitution Day is its very non-military nature. All over Norway, children’s parades with an abundance of flags form the central elements of the celebration. Everyone gets dressed up in bunads (the traditional clothing of Norway) and if you don’t own a bunad, you had better be dressed in a suit and tie.

We observed Syttende Mai in Bergen when we were there in 2011.  I have never seen an entire city dressed up at one time, and it was pretty fantastic!  It made me wish that we all dressed up for the Fourth of July.

Symbolism

Fredrik Meltzer proposed his design to the Norwegian Parliament on the 4th May 1821. In earlier writings, he recommended a tricolourof red, white and blue, “three colours that now denote freedom, such as we have seen in the French flag of freedom, and still see in that of the Dutch and Americans, and in the Union of the English.” The inclusion of a Nordic cross, representing Christianity, was based on the tradition established by the other Nordic countries, Denmark and Sweden.

sonsofnorway

Sons of Norway

Sons of Norway is a fraternal organization representing people of Norwegian heritage. Our mission is “to promote and to preserve the heritage and culture of Norway, to celebrate our relationship with other Nordic countries, and provide quality insurance and financial products” to its members.

Founded in  January 1893, the organization slowly expanded across the United States and now includes lodges in Canada and Norway. Today, Sons of Norway continues to make an effort to build on the traditions of the past while at the same time focusing on our modern lives. Membership is open to everyone with an interest in Norwegian culture.



May 17, 20142

Constitutions are groundbreaking documents that establish fundamental principles by which a body of people are to be governed. Norway’s Constitution was written in 1814 at a time when cultures were emphasizing democracy and free will. The start of the 19th century brought with it new concepts on politics and national independence. The revolutions in the US (1776) and France (1789) paved the way and Norway was intent on following their lead.

Syttende mai constitution day
Norwegian Constitution Day
 is the National Day of Norway and is an official holiday observed on the 17th of May each year. Among Norwegians, the day is referred to simply as Syttende Mai. Signed at Eidsvoll on May 17 in the year 1814, the constitution declared Norway to be an independent kingdom in an attempt to avoid being ceded to Sweden after Denmark-Norway’sdevastating defeat in the Napoleonic wars. 

Vi Feirer Grunnlovsubilet :: We Celebrate Constitution Day

A noteworthy aspect of the Norwegian Constitution Day is its very non-military nature. All over Norway, children’s parades with an abundance of flags, national costumes, and big smiles are the heart of the celebration. Decorations of leafy birch branches, in celebration of winter’s end, and ribbons of red, white and blue make for a festive atmosphere.

Syttende Mai is also celebrated in many Norwegian immigrant communities throughout the world, with traditional foods (I share one of our favorite recipes below), sometimes including lefse and lutefisk, but simple hot dogs are equally popular.  In the United States and Canada, the local lodges of the Sons of Norway often play a central part in organizing the festivities. Our small lodge is no different; we gather for an annual brunch and special cultural programming including games and folk dancing.

syttende maiLitt På Norsk :: A Little Norwegian

syttende mai – 17th of May

Norge – Norway

nasjonaldagen – national holiday

festdag – celebration

barnetoget – children’s parade

flagg – flags

Barna jublet og vinket tilbake med sine flagg. :: The children cheered and waved back with their flags.

Barna fant igjen foreldrene sine, og nå fikk de spise så mye de ville av iskrem og varme pølser. ::  The children found their parents, and now they got to eat as much as they wanted of ice cream and hot dogs.

 

One of our favorite treats on Syttende Mai are Fastelavnsboller:

Fastelavnsboller :: Shrovetide Buns

fastelavnsboller3 1/2 cups (800g) plain white flour
3/4 cups 140g) sugar
10 1/2 tbsp (150g) butter
1 7g package active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups (525g) whole milk
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/3 cups (300g) whipping cream
powdered sugar for garnish
1 egg

  1. In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, cardamom and yeast.
  2. In a medium saucepan melt the butter.
  3. If you are using fresh yeast, in a small bowl mix together the yeast with some of the milk.
  4. Add the remainder of the milk to the melted butter and mix.
  5. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add liquid ingredients. Mix well, work into a smooth dough and knead lightly.
  6. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size.
  7. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth. Form into 20-24 buns, rolling them into an even size with your hands.
  8. Put the buns on a baking sheet and leave to rise for another 15 minutes.
  9. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
  10. Beat the egg and lightly brush onto buns with a basting brush.
  11. Place the buns into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes.
  12. When the tops of the buns are light brown and there is a light brown ring underneath them, remove them from the oven and let cool on a wire cooling rack.
  13. While the buns are cooling whip the cream, add superfine sugar to your taste. Place whip cream in refrigerator while the buns finish cooling.
  14. Halve the cooled buns and fill with the whipped cream and sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.
  15. ** We like to mix lingonberry preserves into the whipped cream.

For more activities and ideas to explore Scandinavian culture, check out my Barnesklubb Pinterest Board.



March 18, 20141

Gustav Vigeland is by far, my favorite artist.  I have loved by his work since I first discovered him in May of 2011 during our visit to Oslo.

I shared with you yesterday a post about Gustav Vigeland: Artist and Visionary.  Today, I invite you to join my Barnesklubb kids as we use his work as inspiration for our own.

Parental Advisory :: Vigeland’s work is predominately nudes.

sculptingvigeland

I opened the lesson by showing the video, The Vigeland Park and Museum.  The kids were then directed to the tables where I had distributed a number of photographs of Vigeland’s work. I took a few minutes to read a short biography and to share a few of the details of my favorite pieces.  I put emphasis on the emotions expressed in their faces.

Method #1 ~ Air Dry Clay

I then distributed the materials (air dry clay) and encouraged the kids to create a sculpture of their own. They were not limited to human figures but most chose to sculpt something simpler – an airplane, a bird nest with eggs, Mjölnir (Thor’s hammer), and even a little spouting whale.

I was most impressed with the youngest artist in our group – a super sweet little girl, just 3 years old. She took pieces of the clay, rolled it into little balls, squished each ball to make something of a pancake shape, and then layered these. She pointed to her finished work and told me, “Pile.”  She then pointed to the photograph I had on display of Vigeland’s A Pile of Babies.

Working with the air dry clay turned out to be more troublesome than I had anticipated.  It became a little crumbly rather quick and cracks appeared on the surface of their work.  The kids all expressed frustration with the medium.  Some chose not to finish the project.

vigelandMethod #2 ~ Plaster Gauze

I thereby gave it another go with my own children at home, using a tutorial I found at Art Rocks. This format worked a lot better and we were much more pleased with our work.  Rather than use the tuna cans, as she described however, we used pill bottle lids.  The only wire we had on hand was 24 gauge so it was very thin.  Our sculptures were very small and thereby a little tricky for the kids to wrap with the plaster gauze.

In the end, we had a lovely collection of miniature statues – Buddy says his is a basketball player and Sweetie was aiming for a runner.  She wasn’t happy with her end result until I told her it resembled Vigeland’s Sinnataggen running through the park.

I would certainly use this method again.  However, I would use tuna or cat food sized cans and larger gauge wire.



October 10, 20131

In our home, the second Thursday of each month is all about Scandinavia.   This is the day our Barnesklubb (Scandinavian Kids Club) gathers to explore the culture and language of our shared ancestry.  Throughout the year we engage in a variety of activities – including weaving, Rosemaling, Orienteering, and painting.  This week, we made progress towards our Cultural Skills pin in Traditional Norwegian Cooking as we learned how to make aebleskiver.

This post contains affiliate links. 

BarnesklubbAccording to Wikipedia, Æbleskiver (Danish meaning apple slices, singularly is is written æbleskive) are traditional Danish pancakes in a distinctive shape of a sphere. Somewhat similar in texture to American pancakes crossed with a popover, Aebleskiver are solid like a pancake but light and fluffy like a popover. The English language spelling is usually aebleskiver or ebleskiver.

Aebelskiver (Traditional Recipe)

Mix together:
1-1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp Salt

Beat together with a whisk or fork:
1 Cup Sour Milk or Buttermilk
2 Eggs
1 Cup Sour Cream

Combine with the dry and wet ingredients and mix until smooth. Put 1 tsp oil in each space in the ebelskiver pan and heat the pan until hot before adding batter. Cook until golden brown and turn over to cook the other side until golden brown. (Can be turned with a fork or two toothpicks.)

Serve hot, right out of the pan. Dip in powdered sugar. You can also fill the inside with apples or jam by placing a teaspoon of filling in the center as soon as the batter is put into the pan, then push it down into the batter a bit with a spoon.

<— This is a great book of ebleskiver recipes.  You might also like the recipe I found at Williams Sonoma, Spiced Apple Aebleskivers with Maple Whipped Cream. When we were in China, we saw something that looked a lot like aebleskivers.  As I researched to write this post, I think it may have been Japanese Takoyaki.  Takoyaki are similar but are generally savory rather than sweet.  Regardless of your preference for sweet or savory, you’ll need an aebleskiver pan.  I highly recommend a Cast Iron Pan, but less expensive varieties (cast aluminum) are available.  You can sometimes find these at second hand stores or garage sales.

For more information about the Sons of Norway’s Cultural Skills, see my post Lessons in Heritage and Cultural Skills.  For related youth activities, you may also be interested in following my Pinterest board, Barnesklubb.



August 13, 20134

As members of the Sons of Norway lodge, we have access to a variety of cultural skills programs that are easily integrated into our homeschool curriculum. I’ve written about the benefits of the lodge in the past both here and at Curriculum Choice. In July, I shared with you our progress in Norwegian Folk Dance. As we begin a new school year, I share with you two additional heritage and cultural skills programs available to members.

cultural skillsNorwegian Cooking

Over the past few years, I have been working on developing my repertoire of Norwegian cooking skills. I achieved level 1 (favorite recipes) a couple years ago. In June, I submitted my application for levels 2 (baking) and 3 (meat dishes). At each level, applicants are required to prepare 4-5 Norwegian recipes. An elective project is also required and a variety of suggestions are provided.

  • I wrote several Hub pages: LefseBløtekake, & Smørrebrød
  • I prepared dishes for our lodge business meeting (Bløtekake and Vaflerer).
  • I taught my Barnesklubb kids how to make lefse.
  • I planned a traditional Norwegian Easter dinner.

Now that I am familiar with numerous dishes, my kids have expressed interest in earning these pins themselves. In the photographs above, they are making Almond Bars with an old family recipe.

Norwegian Literature

We have also recently began working towards our cultural skills pin in Norwegian Literature together.  Like cooking, it is divided into three levels and a pin is awarded for each. Level 1 is Favorites, level 2 is Fiction, and level 3 is Non-fiction.  Within each level we are required to read a specific number of books by a Norwegian author, and a specific number by a Norwegian-American author, write a report, and select an elective (book club, an article for the lodge newsletter, start a lodge library, etc.).

Presently, we are working on level one and thus far, we have read:

  • Race of the Birkebeiners by Lise Lunge-Larsen
  • Dr. Proctor’s Fart Powder by Jo Nesbø
  • The Klipfish Code by Mary Cassanova
  • Viking Tales by Jennie Hall (available for free!)

As an elective activity, we have started a book club within our Sons of Norway lodge whereby we meet regularly to discuss the books we are reading.  Through book club, I have come to discover other books by Nesbø, though not appropriate for young readers, provide a fascinating look into Norwegian culture.

Cultural heritage activities enrich our understanding of our ancestry and foster friendships.  Do you integrate lessons in heritage and cultural skills in your homeschool? What activities do you and your children enjoy most?