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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Confessions of the Scantily Scandinavian

I never claimed to be Norwegian. In fact, when my friend Chris started campaigning to get me to join the Daughters of Norway I protested.

“But Chris,” I said, hating to disappoint her, “ I’m not Norwegian.”

“It doesn’t matter! You’re part Danish and your husband is half Danish, so you’re more than qualified to join” she said. “Look at me. I’m Swedish!” It’s true that being strictly Norwegian isn’t strictly required. Next I heard (again) about all of the organization’s strong points: wonderful people, a century-long legacy, only one meeting per month, great programs, many fun activities, and all of it involving plenty of scrumptious Scandinavian desserts. That did it. Chris doesn’t lie. Now I’m an officer in the largest Daughters of Norway lodge in the United States, Embla No. 2, in Tacoma, Washington, and I love it. How did this happen?

I never claimed to be Norwegian, and to tell the truth, I'm only one-eighth Danish. But now, not only do I feel accepted, it’s scary how much I’m starting to feel Norwegian. Strangely enough, I learned Hardanger Embroidery years ago, and have always knitted Scandinavian patterns. I love snow, fish, and Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 16. I bake beautiful butter cookies. I even felt my heart rate quicken when I saw my Danish family name on genealogy websites as being also found in Norway. Those Vikings did get around. Despite my mostly English heritage, with equal parts of German and Danish thrown in, I can tell I’m becoming more Scandinavian all the time. Now I can’t wait to celebrate Christmas Scandinavian style.

Oh I know… it isn’t even Thanksgiving and I’m talking about Christmas. You’re already cringing when you go into stores where the Christmas cards, candy, and commercialism showed up magically the morning after Halloween. That’s not the kind of Christmas I’m talking about. I’m talking about the kind with real evergreens, warm wool sweaters, home baked goodies, fiddle music, singing, wheat weavings, gifts carved of wood or crafted from silver: a more natural and simple Christmas. If you’d like to treat yourself to some of that and experience the holidays in a whole new way, take in one of the Puget Sound region’s many delightful Scandinavian festivals. Here are some good choices and remember, EVERYONE is welcome:

Thursday Nov. 13- Scandinavian Night (food demos, shopping) at the Garfield Book Company next to Pacific Lutheran University

Sat. Nov. 15-Scandinavian Fair at the Hampton Inn, Bellingham WA 10 AM-4 PM

Sat. Nov. 22- Yule Boutique, Pacific Lutheran University, Olson Auditorium

Sat. Nov. 22 and Sun. Nov. 23- Yulefest at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle

Lately we’ve had plenty of bad news. Maybe you aren’t in the mood for holidays. Leave that cynicism behind and discover what warm hearts came from cold climates. It’s fun to be Scandinavian, even in scant amounts, or just your imagination.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Candace! Greetings from a Norsk-American up in Seattle!!!

When you sent me your email and hinted you were hanging out with other Norsks ("look at me now"), I feared you had been skinny-dipping in hot baths somewhere. Imagine my relief when I read about the impending holidays and celebrations.

My Father was from Fagerness in Valdres. My Mother from Prien on Lake Chiemsee in royal Bavaria. "Olde World Style" Christmas is the only way I know how to celebrate. As a child, my mother and father attempted to keep their holiday traditions alive in us three girls.

It was my German Oma who taught me to cook and bake well. To this day, in preparation for Christmas I bake Kriststollen with the fruits, almonds and marzipan. I also bake Spritz cookies in honor of my Father. I've even started to bake Kremehorns too!

Here's a glass of "Eierlicor" (egg nog) to you, raised to wearing wooly sweaters, Tyrolean walking shoes, having real wood fires, enjoying imported chocolates & Lebkuchen, Advent wreaths, candles in the window (or on your head!), glistening blown glass birds for your Christmas tree and of course, a fragrant julekaker baking in your stove this holiday!

Looking forward to a wonderful Christmas, a big snow dump and carols on the radio. All the best from your historical costumer and "Euro-Amerikan" friend - Rita