Norwegian Language Classes

By Roger Reinhart

There are many Norwegians and other Scandinavians in our area who want to maintain connections with our cultural heritage and/or travel to Norway. One very important part of contact with our culture is the language. Back in 1996, I joined Kringen Lodge because I wanted to learn more Norwegian. My teacher was Leola Olson. Other teachers at the time were Gladys Hendrickson, Grace Onan, and Florence Anderson.

In the past twenty years, others have stepped forward to lead our language classes and have been doing a magnificent job of keeping the learning of Norwegian alive here in our lodge and have provided a great service to our cultural department.

Our current teachers are Verlyn Anderson, Evonne Anderson, Trygve Olson, Stevie Mathre, Karen Kooren, Sue Rusch, and Roger Reinhart. There is also “Lesering” (Reading), a group that meets to read Norwegian stories and articles. There are groups at all levels. We owe a great debt of gratitude to these teachers. They provide much time and effort to keep us learning and enjoying Norwegian. We have roughly between 55 and 65 students attending Norwegian classes each Monday during October & November and March & April. So our gratitude is also for encouraging new membership in our lodge. One of the greatest areas of interest (maybe the greatest) for new members is to study Norwegian. So – Thank you, Teachers!!

Last March our Norwegian Classes were discontinued in the shadow of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Again this fall we were unable to meet safely. Now the vaccinations have been started and we are thankful that we have progressed to this point. But it looks like this March and April will still be unsafe for getting our classes together. So, it is with disappointment that we, your language teachers, will not be able again to begin our classes this spring.

Wow! We are really ready to schedule our classes again. Next fall, October and November, will probably be the time for our restart. (Watch this site for announcements.) The classes have been a very important part of Kringen Lodge here in the Fargo/Moorhead area. And they will be again soon.

If you want to visit about beginning Norwegian, contact Roger at 701 371-0425.

The Dark Winter in Norway

by Verlyn D. Anderson

Norway is located farther north than most Americans realize. About 1/3 of the country is located north of the Arctic Circle. I have had the experience of living in Norway during two winters – in 1983 and 1997 I spent a couple of winter months of my Concordia sabbaticals as a Visiting Professor at the Hamar College. Hamar is located a couple of hours north of Oslo. Then in 1999, after I retired, Evonne and I lived in Lillehammer during the winter. I was the director of a “Semester Abroad” program that headquartered in Lillehammer. When we arrived, the January days were very short – the sun did not rise until after 9:00 a.m. and set again before 4:00 p.m. Those were short winter days for a person from Minnesota, but that is what happened each year so for the local citizens, it was just a normal winter.

The local citizens have adjusted well to these short winter days. Many of the ski trails are lighted so they often go skiing in the evenings on these well-lit winter trails. Sleigh rides with a single horse pulling the sleigh is very popular. Norway has another unique winter “sleigh” that we do not have in the U.S. That is the “Spark” which is popular all over Norway. Most Americans are not acquainted with the “Spark.” There is a seat on the Spark so you can give a child a ride and when you come to a hill you can hop on the runners and ride down a hill. A little snow is left on the sidewalks so that the sparks can be used on them. Here is a photo of a Spark.. It is very popular in Norway, but because of our flat lands, it has not immigrated to America and has not become popular in our country.

Norwegian ‘spark’ kicksled

An interesting custom which is also very popular in Norway, and another one that has not “immigrated” to America is the tradition of putting lighted candles in containers on the graves of recently died family members on Christmas Eve. Then when the people go to church on Christmas Day, they pick up the containers and take them home. It is a very respectful tradition that is practiced all over Norway.

Playing cards and having card playing parties is also very popular in Norway. I remember that card parties were also very popular when I was growing up in rural Minnesota where nearly all of our neighbors were descendants of people who had immigrated from Norway during the 19th Century. These card parties brought lots of joy to rural neighborhoods. The children accompanied their parents to these card parties and we children also had lots of fun while our parents played cards.

Winters are long in Norway, but the people have many activities that help brighten the long winter nights.