by Mary Rousslang

This past spring, I had the opportunity to participate in a course, “Norse Mythology,” through Humanities North Dakota (Humanitiesnd.org). Humanities ND is a non-profit lifelong learners’ community that offers a wide variety of courses throughout the year. The course’s professor, Dr. Natalie Van Deusen is a graduate of Concordia. She holds a Ph.D. in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Norse Mythology” was of special interest to me since I celebrate my Norwegian heritage and love learning more about it.

Goals of the course included the study of origins and characteristics of religion from early times through the Viking Age and the influences on the development of that religion. The first settlers of the area we know as Norway had followed the reindeer as the ice melted in the Stone Age. Relics found in the bogs of Norway show examples of weapons, tools, artifacts of religion, and other cultural clues. Much of what we know today came from the stories and tales orally transmitted from one generation to another.

The earliest written works were documented by Christian monks who settled in the Nordic countries around the 10th century after the conversion to Christianity. It is estimated that 90% of medieval literature has been lost. Th at’s like trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together with 10 pieces of a 100-piece picture. What does that mean for us? The only history we have of our Scandinavian ancestors is interpreted oral history and we only have a small amount of it. We do know that the people of the Viking age relied on mythology to help explain the creation of the world and its mysteries. These myths helped make some sense of life, death, seasons, and everyday experiences. The gods and goddesses were looked to for aid in coping and succeeding.

Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241) Icelandic historian, poet, and politician, is credited with writing the Prose Edda and other works which are major sources for what today is known as Norse Mythology. Considered a leading expert is John Lindow and his book, Norse Mythology can be found in our Sons of Norway library.

The many gods and goddesses of Norse Mythology have become increasingly popular again in our culture as have some of the main stories for which they are famous. Odin, All-Father, Thor, son of Odin and god of thunder, Frigga, wife of Odin and mother of Balder the kind and gentle god, Freyja, goddess of fertility and let us not forget Loki, the trickster. Ragnarok, the end of the world, influences all of life. Honor and revenge are major plots in the sagas of the gods and goddesses. Fate cannot be changed but must be met with honor. Dreams are predictions and are often used as a motif for sagas. The Codex Regius found in the Poetic Edda describes how the world will end. The good news is after the destruction of all the gods, all of the goddesses, and the world a regeneration will begin. Think back to who is writing these sagas down and we see that regeneration will lead to a new era in religion that includes an end to paganism and the beginning of Christianity.

Recently, books, movies, TV, video games, and music have been influenced by Norse Mythology. These myths, sagas, and legends endure because they help explain the mysteries of life, they appeal to our search for connections to the past and provide us with superheroes. As descendants of the forefathers and foremothers of the Viking age, we celebrate that our ancestors were courageous, ingenious, inventive, inclusive, and dedicated to improving life around them. They had strong faithful family connections. We remember our Sons of Norway mission to promote and preserve the heritage and culture of Norway.

by Verlyn Anderson

Why is there a bronze statue of a Viking named Rollo in the little park between Elim Lutheran Church and the Sons of Norway Kringen Lodge in Fargo? It is because of what happened in France more than 1,100 years ago!

Viking raiders from present-day Norway and Denmark were attacking and raiding northern Europe at that time. They attacked Paris in the 840s and again in the 870s. Each time the French bought them off with buckets of gold. In 911 a third Viking force, this time headed by Rollo, or Ganger Hrolf, – Walker Hrolf. He was called “the Walker” because he was more than six and a half feet tall and weighed nearly 300 pounds, – too heavy for any horse of that day to carry him so he had to walk! The name “Rollo” is a Latin translation from the Old Norse name Hrolf, the modern Scandinavian name Rolf.

That 911 attack was not successful, but in the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte with the French King Charles, Rollo agreed to convert to Christianity, accept baptism and pledge allegiance to the king. In return, King Charles granted Rollo the fertile land between the Epte River and the English Channel where Rollo was allowed to settle his chieftains and bring in more Norse settlers. Rollo renamed his newly acquired territory, Normandy – The land of the Norsemen. This area was especially desirable because it was and still is an excellent grain-growing district. The Norsemen could raise wheat and other grains for export to their homeland, Norway, where there was a shortage of tillable land.

The original bronze statue of Rollo was erected in the City Square of Rouen, the capital of Normandy, in 1865. It was sculpted by the renowned French sculptor, Arsene Letellier. Two identical bronze statues of Rollo were sculpted in 1911 on the 1000th Anniversary of Rollo’s acquiring Normandy. One statue was sent to Ålesund, Norway, Rollo’s birthplace, and the other one to North Dakota – the U.S. state with the highest percentage of citizens of Norwegian descent.

On July 12, 1912, there was a great celebration in Fargo when the statue was dedicated and placed near the Great Northern railroad depot. In 1990 it was moved to its present location. Standing in full view from the entrance to the Sons of Norway Kringen Lodge, Rollo is now in the company of those whose ancestors brought him to Fargo. Perhaps it is there, near that thriving stronghold of Norwegian identity, where Rollo can most effectively memorialize the city’s Scandinavian heritage.

Take a good look at the statue of Rollo the next time you visit our Sons of Norway Kringen Lodge. It is a unique treasure.

Thanks for all the donations we continue to receive to support the cultural aspects of Kringen Lodge. Many thanks to Carol and Ray Olson for purchasing office chairs for the genealogy room. Les Bakke and Bev Lake have supported us again this year by purchasing the annual subscription for the library software. Sharon Hovde gifted us postcards and Karen Rosby donated many beautiful Norwegian books and posters.

Brenda Wassberg’s family has given us many books from her personal collection. Thank you everyone for your generosity.

We continue to improve our library, the cultural heart of our local Sons of Norway. New window coverings for the Viking Room and the library windows have been ordered and new lighting will be installed shortly. Please stop in for a visit!

Many unique items are available for purchase in the sale display located in the front entryway. Ask a librarian for assistance and remember there are books for sale on the library cart.

June will bring the District IV Convention, the Scandinavian Festival, and a rosemaling class taught by Vesterheim Gold Medalist Lois Mueller. It looks to be a busy summer ahead and we will do our best to keep you informed.

The display case has been changed and is full of amazing and beautiful carvings and knives from the collections of Barbara and Carrol Juven. Enjoy!

No one article could come close to an overview of the varied musical expression in Norway. There is no known civilization or culture on earth that does not include music, and archaeology has uncovered several musical instruments from the Viking age. However, no notation system exists from that time period. The earliest written evidence of choral music dates to the 12th century.

Folk music is generally divided into 2 main categories: Sami and North Germanic. Sami music is characterized by the vocal style called joik. Originally, joik referred to only one of several Sami singing styles but now references all traditional Sami vocal music. North Germanic music consists of ballads, work songs, sagas, and religious songs.

In the 19th century, choral music increased in popularity. In particular, men’s choirs were formed, and a great deal of music was written for male quartets. Choral festivals and competitions were popular in the 1850s, and Norwegian music was being performed in Europe at international events by 1878. Popular authors, including Ibsen and Bjørnson, collaborated with composers to add music to their literary works and provide lyrics for new choral pieces.

In 1845, the Norwegian Student Choral Society, Den norske Studentersangforening, was formed. It’s the official choir of the University of Oslo and is an exclusive men’s choir. The Women’s Choral Society of the University of Oslo, Kvindelige Studenters Sangforening, was formed in 1895. There is also a mixed choir, the Akademisk Korforening.

Fredrik Melius Christiansen is probably the best-known name in Norwegian choral music in this area, along with sons Olaf and Paul J. Christiansen. In 2001, the documentary movie Cool & Crazy was released. It followed the Berlevåg Male Choir as they traveled to perform in Murmansk, Russia. In 2003, a sequel, Cool & Crazy On the Road was released. In that movie, the choir toured the US, only three weeks after 9/11.

The Sons of Norway has a Cultural Skills unit on the music and musicians of Norway. The three levels look at Folk music, the 19th Century (Grieg and his contemporaries), and the 20th Century. Information on the Cultural Skills program can be found here: https://www.sofn.com/member_resources/cultural_programming/cultural_skills_program/

Thank you for all the donations we have received. When you bring an item into the library, please fill out an intake form so we do not miss out on recording your donation. The more detail you can furnish the better! Knowing the history of an item really does bring it to life.

Thanks for the donation of books. Lori Gunberg, Guy Paulsen, Kim Rude, and Brenda Wassberg have gifted us books recently. Special thanks to our members who have contributed by presenting on Cultural Nights; Guy Paulsen and Markus Krueger gave us insight into the Stave Kirke in Moorhead at the Hjemkomst Center and Les Bakke enlightened us about Christmas truces on the battlefield during World War I and World War II. Mark Voxland has us up to date on hydroelectric power in Norway and their commitment to the environment. Jolinda Michels gifted us her aunt’s beautiful and authentic bunad. We hope to soon have it on display.

Take time to enjoy the crystal in the display case on loan from Carrol and Barbara Juven. The display will change soon. If you have items to share, please contact us.

A big thank you to all of those who have been staffing and preparing the library. The change has been amazing, and we want to share it with all our members. Stop and see for yourself. Genealogy help is available on Thursdays as well.

Language classes will begin again on Monday evenings in March. The Rosemalers meet every Monday at 1 and the Hook and Needle Stitch group meet at noon on the first and third Mondays. Lesering (Bookclub) meets on the second Monday at noon. There is a Ukulele group and an Accordion group that will welcome you too. We are in search of learning opportunities that give value to your membership in Kringen Lodge. If you have a specific interest or are willing to teach a class, please contact us. Our email is culture@kringenlodge.com

January is that time of year when we make New Year’s resolutions. Some attainable and some not. Every year I make a few and break a few. One that I make every single year is to set
a reading goal. I love to read, one of those things my mother made me do and it grew into a habit that is impossible to break. As I decide on that number of books to read I also become mindful of the types of literature I want on my reading list. Involvement in Lesering (book club) at Kringen has been a rich adventure into Nordic and regional fiction and nonfiction offerings. Our library is full of great books, I challenge you to make a goal to read (lots) and check out what is available here at Kringen.

Let me tell you about some of our library’s newer selections!

Skiing Into the Bright Open: My Solo Journey to the South Pole by Liv Arnesen. The story of the first woman to ski solo to the South Pole. Norway has a long rich history of exploration and adventure, this is a nonfiction addition to this history.

Stringing Rosaries: The History, the Unforgivable , and the Healing of Northern Plains American Indian Boarding School Survivors by Denise Lajimodiere. This book gives a history of the American Indian boarding schools (also termed American Indian Residential Schools), interviews with survivors, and the author and her family’s own healing journey. Dr. Lajimodiere is an enrolled citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and a graduate of UND.

The Seeds of Change by Lauraine Snelling. Books by Lauraine Snelling have been popular in our library for years. We have many of her past books including the entire Blessing Series available. This is the first book in a new series.

Lars Mytting is presently one of the most popular authors in Norway. His books have become international bestsellers and translated into numerous languages. He was recently highlighted in the Viking. Norwegian Wood Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way is certainly a nonfiction work but is also a unique look into Nordic culture. The Bell in the Lake (the first in a trilogy) is historical fiction dealing with ‘the intersection of religion, superstition, and duty’.

Sigrid Undset (1882-1946) has written extensively and some of her best known and most highly acclaimed works deal with medieval times. Her two epic multi-volume works are Kristin Lavransdatter and The Master of Hestviken. For the first time in over a hundred years, The Master of Hestviken is being re-translated to English and presented under its original title Olav Audunsson. The translator is Tiina Nunnally, one of the best! The first two volumes, Vows and Providence are now in the Kringen library.

When you make those 2022 resolutions, think about including a reading resolution too. It is enjoyable and not difficult, you may be surprised how much you learn and how easy that resolution is to keep.

Have a happy and safe New Year’s and stop in to pick up a good book.

By Stevie Mathre

A steep-roofed, elaborately carved, wood edifice rising from the earth, tucked between the mountaintops and fjords, the stavekirke is unlike any other building: a Christian church that contrasts with the stone monuments built in other parts of Europe. The oldest were built at the same time Thomas Becket was murdered in the Canterbury Cathedral, at a time when the magnificence of a church was an expression of a people’s faith. But instead of stone, stavkirker were built of wood, and have proven they can last just as long.

Perhaps 2000 stavkirker once dotted Norway’s landscape. Now just 28 remain.

Undredal Stavkirke

Stavkirker are named for the “staver” or staves that are the defining characteristic of the construction. These corner posts performed the load-bearing duties of the sometimes huge structures. There are also very small stavkirker (Undredal Stavkirke was built in 1147, measures 13 feet by 39 feet, and seats 40 people. It’s still in use today!) The builders typically used the heartwood of pine trees which have been specially cured by cutting off the branches but not felling the tree until the sap has leached out. The remaining heartwood is then much more resistant to rot and decay. This is called ore-pine, or malmfuru in Norwegian. In order to further preserve them, the staver were placed on top of large rocks. Prior to that, the support columns had been driven directly into the ground. A further development is the use of sills – long horizontal wooden pieces that are flattened and notched on the long surfaces. Vertical wallboards are then slid into the slots in a tongue-and-groove fashion. Since the wood was therefore not in contact with the ground, it would last a lot longer. Tar, made from pine resin, was used to weatherproof the exposed wood from the elements.

Urnes Stavkirke

Of the 28 surviving stavkirker, Urnes is the oldest, and is listed as a Unesco Heritage site. It was built about 1130, dated through dendrochronology, on the site of three previous churches, and even
incorporates building materials (some wall planks, a door lintel, and a corner post) from those previous structures. The oldest wood has been dated to 765 (not when it was cut – it was growing in 765). Those earlier buildings had used palisade style construction, where the boards forming the walls are driven into the ground, and is a strong, potentially long-lasting technique. However, the post-style was less susceptible to ground rot. Urnes was built using the later stave technique.

Traditional Christian iconography is minimal; however to assume the decorations are pagan, and the reuse of a pre-Christian building was intentional, is incorrect. The ornamental carvings featuring dragons, serpents, monsters, lions, vines, and lilies represented not the defeat of pagan beliefs but the struggle of good versus evil. The same style of non-narrative decoration is found in other parts of Eu- rope in manuscript illuminations and metalwork and was common particularly prior to the Reformation. These unique buildings are distinctly Norwegian, yet specifically part of the Christian tradition.

November Cultural Night
featuring Guy Paulson and Markus Krueger
Tuesday, November 2 Cultural Corner at 6:30 pm

As the Viking Age in Norway drew to a close in the 1100s and with the conversion to Christianity the need arose for the construction of places of worship. Stave Churches were built throughout the land introducing symbols of this new religion. Few of these churches have survived. One structure still standing today is the Hopperstad Stave Church located on the Sognefjord in
Vik Norway.

Guy Paulson had a dream, a really big dream! Drawing on his love of Christianity and Norwegian heritage as well as his skill as a builder and artisan, he began to build a full-size replica of the
Hopperstad Stave Church in Moorhead. Over the course of five years, the dream was fulfilled. Located at the Heritage Hjemkomst Center, Guy Paulson’s amazing gift to our community stands as
his lasting legacy.

The November Cultural program will feature a film depicting the creation of the church. Guy Paulson and Markus Krueger, Programming Director for the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay
County will be with us to answer questions and provide additional insight into this amazing story

Good news! Sons of Norway – Kringen Lodge is making plans to begin NORWEGIAN LANGUAGE CLASSES again this fall.

Sons of Norway strives to present opportunities for members and guests to experience both the culture and the language of Norway. You can find those experiences of Norwegian culture here at Kringen Lodge. And we especially want to invite you to study the Norwegian language with us.

We will be meeting this fall on the eight Mondays from October 4 to November 22. We look forward to seeing you. [Vaccination against Covid-19 is required.]

SEVERAL CLASSES ARE BEING PLANNED:

  1. Beginning Class in Norwegian – “Sett i gang 1” “Beginning 1”
  2. Returning beginners – “Sett i gang – 1”
  3. Those having had more Norwegian, e.g. have finished first half of “Sett i gang 1”
  4. Continuing the last fourth of “Norsk, nordmenn og Norge” – “Norwegian, Norwegians and Norway”
  5. Finishing the last chapter of “Norsk, nordmenn og Norge”
  6. Intermediate/Advanced – have finished a Basic Course in Norwegian (will include reading, writing, listening and speaking)
  7. ‘Lesering’ (“Reading” group)

SAVE THE DATES
Eight Mondays: October 4 to November 22
TIME
7:00 – 9:00p.m.
More information: call Roger 701 371-0425

by Dawn Morgan

In Norway, north of the Arctic Circle, the sun does not go below the horizon between May 20th and July 22. It touches down and then returns to the sky.

My grandmother, Astrid Granlund, said many times that we are from the land of the Midnight Sun, something of which she was proud. My grandparents were from Langvasgrenda, Nordland. There rests a long lake north of Mo-i-Rana Fjord under the glacier Svarteisen (black ice).

As a young teen, I loved hearing about summer night courting, where cultural freedom allowed those of all ages to be out at night enjoying the enchantment of the soft golden light streaming through the forests, valleys and over the lakes. This activity was especially endearing to the young at heart and those over sixteen qualified to court following church confirmation.

Nordlanders also worked at night in the summer. Once upon a time when we American Grandlunds were visiting, we arrived at the former school grounds to celebrate the Summer Solstice. The celebration was held outdoors and later in the largest of the Lavus (teepees) where a meal was served, an evening fire built followed by entertainments. Afterward, a cousin, Harold, was seen on his tractor working a small field near the stream, Fiskmoen, which tumbles down from the glacier.

Norwegians are strong environmentalists, loving to spend time in nature when the summer sun shines. They have a legal term, allemannsretten, the right to roam, meaning that people can hike the land of Norway freely. Many go up into the mountains camping and relaxing as they overlook beautiful fjords and green mountain valleys.

Hikers are asked to use established trails, use firepits and privies provided by the Norwegian government. There are some rules, number one, to always be respectful of people and the environment. The rule that I like to impose upon myself is “no trace,” meaning that nothing remains of your presence. A third rule is a prohibition of constructing cairns, the stacking of stones. Historically, cairns were important to travelers. They indicated the way to one destination or another. Overused in contemporary culture they are now being banned in some countries because of their historic significance.

Birdwatching and sunbathing are common past times with skinny dipping a special joy following the long dark winters. One year some of our relatives came to visit Turtle Lake, a short drive into Minnesota. There were nine Norwegians of all ages. When it was time to walk down to the lake they began to remove their clothing in joyful anticipation of the sparkling water. It was then that my father decided that we had better pack them into a couple of cars. We headed for Detroit Lakes where they were able to purchase small bathing suits thereby accommodating American culture.