Friday, September 30, 2011

Sons of Norway on the Radio

It's Norsk Hostfest time again, and Sons of Norway is again sponsoring Oslo Hall. That in and of itself is pretty big for us; having a platform in front of a crowd that can swell to more than 20,000 people per day is really exciting.

But what's even more exciting is that as part of this year's largest Nordic festival in North America, Sons of Norway took to the airwaves yesterday! Well, to be more accurate, Fraternal Director Linda Pederson did. Linda was interviewed at Norsk Hostfest by Merrill Piepkorn, host of Prairie Public Radio's "Hear it Now."

To hear her interview, click here and forward to the 17:00 mark to listen to Linda talk about Sons of Norway and our flood relief efforts in Minot, ND. 

For those of you listening online or in North Dakota, tune in live tonight because Linda, as well as a number of Norsk Hostfest performers, will be on the air raising money for Minot flood relief.

Barnehage Programs Begin

Have you had the chance to read "The Bilingual Boost" in the September issue of Viking? In her article, writer Holly O'Dell features the innovative programming at Barnehage, Concordia Language Villages' (CLV) Norwegian immersion preschool in Edina, Minn.

For those who live in the Twin Cities, Barnehage offers a couple of programs that are just starting up. Tussetroll, a parent-child class for 2-1/2 to 4-year-olds, begins Oct. 20. Valerie "Magne" Borey, who teaches at Barnehage, says "the Norwegian language is something a lot of us associate very intimately with our families, so it's a great way for little ones to start learning the language, when that connection to parents—and grandparents—is so firmly central to who they are."

Norge Rundt, for children ages 4-11, meets one Saturday a month, beginning Oct. 8. "This is a wonderful opportunity for young children who can't attend Barnehage during the school week, or Skogfjorden villagers who want to continue what they've begun during the summer." Borey says. She adds that she's excited about the theme they've chosen for the year: norske helter (Norwegian heroes).

For more information on Barnehage programs, visit the CLV website or call 1-800-222-4750 to register.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Response to July 22 Tragedy

Skogfjorden, Concordia's Norwegian Language Village, is collaborating with Nordmanns-Forbundet to respond to the July 22 terror attacks in Norway. The event will take place on Fri., Oct. 7 at 7 pm at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Edina, Minn.

Hallgrim Berg, President of Nordmanns-Forbundet, will discuss the impact the attacks have had on Norway and the role the royal family has played in helping the country in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Skogfjorden villagers will share their perspectives on the attacks and will work with staff members to create a program featuring narrative, poetry and song. This event is free and open to all.

Viking will remember the events of July 22 with a special commemorative article. Look for it in our December issue.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Elitatt.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Norwegian Experience: Day 4, 5 & 6

It has been a busy couple of days for Norwegian Experience winner, Nancy Madson, but it sounds like she is loving every minute. Last time I spoke with Nancy was on Thursday, so we had quite a bit to catch up on this morning. Since then Nancy has visited six stave churches, the emigrant museum, the historic Kvikne's hotel and the Flåm railway and more. So here goes!

In Lillehammer we visited the ice arena for 1994 Olympics. The arena roof is shaped like an upside down Viking ship. We didn’t go inside but it was interesting to see the building. The most notable part of that day was the emigrant museum in Hamar. We had traditional rommegrot and dried reindeer and sausage with flat bread. The curator at the museum was wonderful too and very interesting. He dispelled so many myths about immigration! One myth was that traditionally we think of Norwegian emigration happening beginning in 1825 but many left prior to 1825. He also talked quite a bit about the number of emigrants who returned to Norway. It was also interesting to hear that the most Norwegians emigrated in 2010—30,000 last year. Which is the most ever in absolute numbers. The curator was very thought provoking, a bit of a philosopher, it was very educational.

Later we drove through the Gudbrandsdalen Valley.
I know everyone thinks of Norway for the fjords but this valley is a real contender to the fjords, it is so beautiful!

So far we’ve been able to see eight different stave churches in various stages of remodeling, reconstruction and restoration. When the churches were first constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries they were very basic and dark, changing to be more ornate during the Catholic years, and then changing again after the reformation. It was wonderful to see these churches and hear about the changes they went through over the years. On Sunday we saw the Borghund stave church in Lærdal, which is currently undergoing a restoration. We were able to climb the scaffolding and actually see many of the areas being repaired in detail. It was the best. I can’t imagine having a better tour of the stave churches!

We had a wonderful time in Undredal on Sunday evening as well. We had dinner at a goat cheese factory. We enjoyed a delicious course of cheeses as well as my favorite brown cheese, geitost. I love that cheese! We also participated in some Norwegian music and folk dancing.

When I visited in 2000 I didn’t participate in any organized tours. However, I can’t stress enough how wonderful this tour has been. I have learned so much more. Linda McCormick and Borton Overseas have done a fabulous job putting this together. If Sons of Norway decides to do another tour, I would so highly recommend it, not only because of the things you see but also because of the camaraderie with tour members. I’ve made quite a few connections with members I wouldn’t have otherwise met. It is a totally different experience than when our members get together for the convention, a tour like this helps you meet those everyday members. It really is a fabulous tour. I just hope Sons of Norway and Borton Overseas does this again!

Don’t forget to check the blog later for more updates, and be sure to visit the Sons of Norway website if you’d like to be the lucky recipient of this amazing contest for 2011!

September 19th: International Talk Like a Pirate Day

If you didn't already know, today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! That means that people around the world will spending the day gleefully saying YARRRRR and AVAST in celebration of this parodic holiday that was created back in 1995.

Now, I'm sure you're probably wondering why the Sons of Norway blog is playing host to this mirthful holiday, right? I mean, pirates were localized to the South Seas and Caribbean islands only, like in the movies and Disney rides, right?


The North Seas, especially throughout Scandinavia, actually played host to their own pirate culture. While southern oceans were the home of colorfully named pirates, like Blackbeard and Calico Jack Rackham, the North Sea was sailed by pirates named Otto Stigsson and Knut Ellingsen. In fact, North Sea Piracy was such a developed culture in the 14th and 15th century that the oceans were ruled by an organized group, called Fataljebrødrene. In fact, they even codified their behavior with strict rules of conduct, called “Likedelere”, which means “Those who share equally”.

So, now that you've had your pirate lesson for the day, join me in saying YAAARRRRRR!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Geitungen Begins North American Tour

Fans of Norwegian folk music, take note: Geitungen, an energetic instrumental trio that's brimming with talent, is touring North America this month. I had the good fortune of hearing these guys play last summer at Nisswa-stämman Scandinavian Folk Music Festival, and I became an instant fan. The group, which plays traditional tunes from the Rogaland area in southwestern Norway, has released three albums: "Langt Ute" (2010), "Bra Kast" (2005), which won a Norwegian folk music award for best album, and "Vaniljesaus" (2001).

Geitungen (pictured here, from left) is Christer Rossebø on fiddle, mandolin, mandola and guitar; Håvard Ims on melodeon and accordions; and Vidar Skrede on hardanger fiddle, fiddle and guitars.

The group began its tour earlier this week in Calgary, Alberta. Their next stop is British Columbia and then Washington state before playing at Norsk Høstfest in Minot, North Dakota. They'll be playing a few gigs in Minnesota before heading back to Norway in October. You'll find a detailed tour itinerary on Multe Music. Check out their website for a sampling of their infectious tunes.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Presidential Tour 2011: Day 2 and 3

Yesterday I spoke with International President Dan Rude about the presidential Tour of Norway to see how it’s going so far. I caught up with him as he was just finishing lunch at the Hadeland Glassworks, but more on that in a bit. Here’s what Dan had to say:

SofN: So, Dan, how’s the tour going? Last time we chatted you’d had a long day, but were looking forward to the excursions to Akershus and the Storting. How’d they go?

DR: Oh, it was so interesting! Akershus and the Norwegian Resistance museum were amazing. Going through the museum, it really this home how much Norwegians sacrificed when fighting the Nazis. Their homes, their families, and in some cases their lives. It really puts things in perspective.

SofN: Wow, that sounds really moving. I’m glad you got to see it. Now, after the Akershus trip, you went to the Storting, right?

DR: Oh yes! That was last night and it was fantastic! We met with a good friend of ours who is a MP and he took us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Storting. We were able to go places within the building that most citizens never see in person, like the Main Chanber, where the MPs meet. Looking around, I was so amazed at the level of technology they employ.

Then we went down on the main floor of the chamber, where people are rarely allowed to go. It was a great experience because the whole building has some great architecture and design.

SofN: That sounds like a lot of fun and a rare opportunity. Was there a favorite part of the tour?

DR: I think it would probably have been seeing the room where HM the King waits prior to opening the Storting every year.

SofN: Very cool. I bet there aren’t a lot of people who get to see that. Now wasn’t there a dance performance as well?

DR: Yes! We met up with a bunch of our old friends who live in Oslo. They are in a group called Steinsgardskroken, and they have an accordion group that plays for the dances. It was awesome! I even learned some new dances and, best of all, made some new friends.

SofN: Sounds like a lot of fun. So with all that activity yesterday, are you enjoying some down-time today?

DR: Not at all. I’m still full of energy! We spent part of the morning on the bus, going to visit the Heddal Stave Church. That was quite an experience for us since it’s the largest stave church in Norway.

Then we came here to the Hadeland Galssworks. We’ve just finished lunch and are about to take a tour of their glassblowing area, then do some shopping for gifts and souvenirs.

SofN: Hadeland Glassworks are a great place to visit. We’ve sent a number of past Norwegian Experience winners there. They’ve all had a great time and learned a lot about the art that goes into making glassblowing and the resulting artwork.

DR: I’m sure it’s going to be very educational for everyone. Then once we wrap up here, we’re going on to Eidsvold where we’ll visit Constitution Hall. That’s going to be a very special part because it’s such an important part of Norway’s history. Unfortunately because it’s under renovation we won’t be able to see much inside, but it’s still an important stop on the tour.

Then, after Eidsvold, we are off to Hamar, which is a very special place for me. It’s where my grandmother came from, so there is a deep familial connection with the area. When we’re there we are also going to visit Mjørsa, which is the largest freshwater lake in Norway. The scenery there is so beautiful, I know everyone is going to love it!

After that, we are ending the day with a nice dinner for everyone on the tour and we’re going to be visited by International Director Ernst Granly, his wife and his brother. It’ll be great to see him and I know that everyone will enjoy meeting with him.

SofN: Wow, Dan, it sounds like you’ve had a full couple of days! Is everyone on the tour able to keep up?

DR: Oh, yes! Everyone is still really excited to be here. We’ve walked a lot of miles so far, but everyone is having a great time!

SofN: Great, Dan! Thanks for keeping us up-to-date on everything that’s going on with the Presidential Tour!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Norwegian Experience: Day 2 & 3

Both Wednesday and Thursday have been fun-filled days for Nancy Madson, 2010 Norwegian Experience contest winner. Nancy visited the Oslo Folk Museum, Gol stave church, the Viking Ship Musuem, Parliament and much more! Let’s hear how she’s enjoying the trip!

Walk me through your day on Wednesday…did you have any favorite stops?

Wednesday was great! Last night especially! Our visit to Parliament was really interesting and the folk dance group afterward was wonderful and very large! There were dancers and musicians of all ages, from 10 to 70. There were even young children playing the accordion. Afterward we were served dessert and coffee and the dancers went out into the audience and encouraged us to dance a waltz with them. It was a great time!

I also did a bit of shopping with Luella. She wanted bunad shoes. (Of course this prompted my active imagination. So to prevent myself from picturing ornate, heavily embroidered shoes, I just had to ask. Nancy was happy to put my curiosity to rest, “special shoes you wear with a bunad-dancing shoes.”)

What did you do on the tour on Thursday?

A little bit of driving, we visited Heddal stave church, which is absolutely beautiful. Very large and decorated and it is currently in use, from April to October. They can’t open the church in winter because the electric heat would damage the interior since the church is 800 years old.

We also stopped at Hadeland Glassworks, which was very interesting and educational. I have watched freeform glassblowing before but at Hadeland today they used molds instead. I watched an artist use 3 molds in one piece today. I also did a bit of Christmas shopping for my family in their gift shop. (Nancy did give me the details on the nifty gifts she picked up--which sound wonderful--but I won’t spoil the surprise for the lucky recipients!) I also received a wonderful gift from Hadeland for being the contest winner, a beautiful cobalt blue Christmas ornament set of three hand-blown kings.

We also made a surprise stop in Eidsvoll to Eidsvollsbygningen, the manor house where the Norwegian constitution was written. Unfortunately the building was closed for restoration but it was nice to stop and see it from the outside.

When I visited in 2000 I didn’t participate in any tours, but this visit has been so much more of a learning experience. The tour guides with Borton Overseas have been wonderful. I’ve been taking notes and trying to remember everything. One of the things I learned was that Norwegians have a triangular flag as well as the rectangular flag. The triangular flag is used more for everyday use and what we would consider the “traditional” Norwegian flag is used for more official occasions. I was also surprised by the amount of sod roofs and stabburs I saw today. You think of them being “of the past” but you still see them in use in Norway. I’m hoping to find a stabbur souvenir to take home with me. I really enjoy those little buildings-some are so ornate and others are fairly plain.

I also was interviewed by John Granly, journalist and brother to our International Director Ernst Granly, for the local paper in Eidsvoll. So who knows, my picture might be in the local paper!

Don’t forget to check the blog later for more updates! On Friday Nancy will be off to Hamar and Lom to visit the Emigrant museum and the Ringebu and Lom stave churches, ending with a stay at the historic Fossheim Hotel. So, if you’d like to be the lucky recipient of this amazing contest for 2011, be sure to visit the Sons of Norway website and check out the contest details here!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Norwegian Experience : Day 1

Yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to check in with Nancy Madson, the 2010 Norwegian Experience recruitment contest winner, via Skype. A member since 1990, Nancy has held numerous lodge leadership positions and is currently vice president of Solskinn 6-150 and a zone director. As the 2010 winner, Nancy will be spending the next week visiting some of Norway’s most scenic and historic places, including UNESCO World Heritage sites and several stave churches, courtesy of Borton Overseas and Sons of Norway. I caught up with Nancy after a busy travel day to Oslo, complete with an orientation city tour and a welcome dinner and dessert with Sons of Norway district 8 members.

How has the trip experience been so far? Are you enjoying taking part in the Presidential Tour with Sons of Norway members?
The hotel is really beautiful and the flight went well…although it was very long. I think I will probably be asleep within a minute of my head hitting the pillow! Half the fun of the trip is enjoying it with fellow members. Having common connections and interests just adds to the trip and I’ve really enjoyed meeting other members.

What are you most excited to see?
The Stave Churches! I was able to see 2 of them during my visit in 2000, but seeing 8 of the 28 of them is really something special. I’m also really looking forward to the food! I’d like to try some new things as well as enjoy the food Norway is known for, like seafood and reindeer. I am also really looking forward to trying whale during our stop in Bergen.

Any highlights from the Oslo city tour?
I really enjoyed seeing all the amazing architecture. Everything is so old and intricate. Where I live in Palm Springs everything is new, you don’t get to see carvings and stonework like this there. While others looked at the stores, I was looking up at the great buildings. I did stop into one store…a bunad shop! It almost made you drool to see all those great bunads.

On Wednesday you will be visiting the Oslo Folk Museum, the Gol stave church and the Viking Ship Museum. Have you visited these heritage sites before?
Yes, I was able to see many of these places when I visited Norway several years ago for the International Convention. However, this time I am looking forward to being able to visit with a good friend of mine who actually works at the Folk Museum in Oslo. We’re also going to experience a behind-the-scenes visit to Parliament Wednesday afternoon and a performance by a folk dancing group. Later in the day I’d like to explore the area a bit and do some shopping.

Is there anything about the city that surprised you or looked different since your visit in 2000?
I had forgotten a lot. Last time I visited I was under the weather and so it made it a bit more difficult to really enjoy the city, so everything really looks brand new to me! I did notice all the construction that seems to be happening in the city and I love the new Oslo Opera House, it is so beautiful!

Visit the blog later this week to see more updates from Nancy and exciting trip details along the way! And don't forget, you, too, can be eligible to win the Norwegian Experience! For contest details, click here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Presidential Tour 2011: Day 1

This morning a group of Sons of Norway members landed at Gardermoen airport in Oslo, kicking off the 2011 Presidential Tour of Norway! If you haven’t heard about this already, you’re really going to be bummed about missing out on it. The tour of Norway is being led by Sons of Norway International President, Dan Rude and our amazing travel partner, Borton Overseas.

Over the next week or so those on the tour will visit a number of cities in Norway, including Oslo, Bergen, Balestrand and more! They will be taking in the sites at a number of cultural and heritage-related locations, like stave churches in Lom, an emigrant museum and the world famous Hadeland Glassworks!

This is going to be such an exciting trip for everyone involved, and we wanted to do what we could to share the trip with all the members (myself included) who weren’t able to attend. So, over the next week there will be a number of blog posts, where we interview Dan Rude to recap the excitement of the day and share as much as possible with you, our respected readers.

In addition, my colleague, Melissa, will be posting interviews with Nancy Madson who is this year’s Norwegian Experience Recruitment Contest winner. Thanks to our partnership with Borton Overseas she and a guest have been awarded two of the coveted spots on this year’s Presidential Tour. So be sure to check back on the blog to get her insight and thoughts on the trip.

So, with that, here’s the first interview with our International President, Dan Rude:

SofN: So, Dan, I know you’ve just gotten into Oslo today after traveling from Montana. That’s a long trip. How are you feeling?

DR: I’m jacked! (Sidenote: No, seriously, that’s a direct quote.) It was a long trip, but as soon as my feet hit the ground in Oslo I was ready to go! I’m so full of adrenaline on trips like this. I figure I’ll sleep for a couple of days when I get home, but right now I don’t want to waste a minute.

In fact right after we arrived, we took a nice tour of Oslo that gave everyone a good taste of old Norway. We went past the palace, the opera house, Oslo Fjord, and Akershus castle. It was a great way to kick off the week.

SofN: That’s great, Dan. It’s good to hear you’re excited. How are the rest of the tour participants feeling after the long journey? Are they as excited as you?

DR: Oh yes! Everyone has been talking about this tour for a long time and are now very excited to actually be here!

SofN: So, tonight was the welcome dinner, right?

DR: Yes, it was a great time and it gave everyone a chance to get to know each other. Then, after dinner we had dessert with some Sons of Norway members who live here in Oslo. That was a real treat!

SofN: That sounds like a lot of fun, Dan. I’m sure everyone is pretty tired today, but what have you got planned tomorrow?

DR: Tomorrow is going to be a big day! First are visiting Vigeland park, which I think is a must for anyone traveling to Oslo. Then, after the park, we are going to the Oslo Folk Museum where we’ll see our first stave church and see the Viking ships they have on display.

In the afternoon I’m planning on going back to Akershus fortress to visit the WWII Norwegian resistance museum. It was built since the last time I was here, so this’ll be the first time I’ve seen it. I’m really excited about that.

Then tomorrow night we are all going to visit the Parliament to meet with my good friend Terje Bekkedal, who is a MP. He’s going to give us a behind the scenes tour of Parliament, then he is leading a dance presentation by the group, Steinsgardskroken. It’s going to be a very full day!

And, with that, we close the first day of the Presidential Tour. It’s going to be a full week for everyone, so be sure to keep coming back for daily updates!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Decoding—and Creating—the Primstav

Have you read "Decoding the Primstav" in the July issue of Viking? In it, Keith Homstad presents a history and explanation of the primstav, Norway's medieval calendar stick. Before the days of printed calendars or clocks, the simple but highly accurate primstav served as a religious guide and farmers almanac for seven centuries.

Homstad is the president of Nordmarka 1-585 in Northfield, of which I'm also a member. Last night Nordmarka members gathered to try their hand at making their own primstavs. We met over the supper hour and enjoyed snacking on hjerte vafler and meatballs while Homstad (pictured below on the left) led us in the activity.

If you'd like to learn more about primstavs, check out the July issue of Viking, where you'll find instructions for making your own on page 24. Homstad encourages readers to personalize their primstavs to include their own "red letter days," such as holidays and important family events. In addition to a fun lodge activity, it sounds like a wonderful Christmas gift idea to me!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ready! Set! Study!

If you've been keeping up with Viking magazine, then you probably read the great article, called "Ready, Set, Study!" in the September issue. For those that haven't read it yet, it's a great resource for learning about educational exchange programs in Norway for both young students as well as those looking to attend a college program overseas.

For the article Viking photographed three students, Kristina Boe, Danielle Taylor and Solina Bressler, who all attended the Oslo International Summer School this year thanks to Sons of Norway Foundation grants. The reason I mention this is that we've learned that Danielle has been keeping a blog and writing about her time studying at the OISS.

It makes for some great reading and gives a great insiders-view of the the program. If you've ever thought about participating in the program, or wanted to see how the Sons of Norway Foundation makes real and significant impacts in the lives of young people, I definitely recommend you take a look at what Danielle has to say.

Also, don't forget that the next week we begin our blog coverage of the Sons of Norway Presidential Tour as well as the Norwegian Experience winner's trip to Norway. Over the course of following 12 days the blog will bring you daily posts about what our International President, Dan Rude, and Norwegian Experience winner, Nancy Madson, are up as they both explore all the wonder that Norway has to offer!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Norwegian Teachers' Resistance

When I think about dangerous jobs, teaching isn't the first thing that comes to mind. During World War II, however, teachers in Norway found themselves under threat. One of these teachers was Edvard Brakstad, an instructor at Eidsvoll Landsgymnas.

In the spring of 1942, Brakstad was one of 1,100 teachers arrested by the Germans for refusing to join a teacher association, designed to educate Norwegian students in Nazi ideology. After Brakstad's arrest in April, he was sent to a prison camp near Kirkenes, in northern Norway. While a prisoner, he wrote letters to his family and kept a journal, which he kept hidden from prison camp guards.

These writings formed the basis for Carter Walker's article "The Norwegian Teachers' Resistance," in this month's education-themed issue of Viking. While Walker's article features excerpts of Brakstad's writings, a larger collection can be found online, along with commentary from Brakstad's son, Olav.

Despite serious illness, Brakstad survived his ordeal. He returned home in late August of that year and later took over as headmaster of his school. If you'd like to learn more about Brakstad and the Norwegian teachers' resistance, be sure to check out the September issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.