Thursday, January 13, 2011

Founders Day

January 16th, 1895. In world news, France was wrapping up the first chapter of the Dreyfus affair and Russia was experiencing a revival of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Otherwise it was just another Wednesday. However, far flung from these events in Minneapolis, MN, a small group of 18 Norwegian immigrants did something that would have an effect on our lives for the next century and beyond.

It was on that date Sons of Norway was founded.

Coming together out of a sense of fraternity and necessity for mutual protection, the founders based their fledgling group on the ideals of community assistance plans, which had been popular in areas of Norway. These plans required members to pay a small amount each week and in return receive free medical care for themselves and their families. The founders were proud of this new mutual assistance society and believed it reflected the moral principles of American fraternalism.

"Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson" was the name first selected for the new organization but it was soon rejected on the realistic grounds that the American people would find it quite impossible to pronounce. "Sønner av Norge" was the name settled upon and the formal inception with the 18 founders was completed on 16 January 1895.

The fledgling organization provided not only security against financial crises and a forum to celebrate their new nationalism, but it also served to preserve the many things Norwegian which were treasured by those who had left Norway: the literature, music and art which formed such a large part of their heritage.

Now, 116 years later, even though we’ve grown from 18 individuals to nearly 70,000 men, women and children, we’re still as dedicated to those same principles as we were in 1895.

So, with that, I want to encourage all our members reading this to celebrate Founders Day this Sunday, January! Wear your Sons of Norway pins, buttons, vests, jackets or hats all day, and when someone asks you what Sons of Norway is, show your pride and tell them all about the great things your lodge does in the community! Here at the HQ we’ll all be wearing our Sons of Norway member pins all week to commemorate the founding of our beloved organization!

If you or your lodge have any special plans for Founders Day, I’d love to hear all about it. Leave a comment below, tweet me at or post something on the Sons of Norway facebook page!

1 comment:

MJ said...

and it's especially cool that one of our younger members had the idea that we should all celebrate Founder's Day by wearing our pins, hats, T-shirts. Etc.