New Year’s Resolutions

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.

What makes a Stavkirke so unique?

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.

Building a Dream: The Moorhead Stave Church

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

Norwegian language classes return in October

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.]


  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)

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

Summer Sunshine

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.

The Mysteries of the Runes

by Dale Grothe

Runes are the symbols used in the writings of ancient Nordic and Teutonic peoples. The earliest examples date back to 200-300 AD, and their origins are shrouded in mystery. Legend says that the runes were revealed to Odin when, in one of his many ordeals to gain knowledge, he hung himself from the World Tree Yggdrasil for nine days and nights, pierced by his sword. Near-death on the ninth day, he saw the runes in the waters below. Academic theories on origins vary, but a common view is that runes were prehistoric symbols used in spells and divination that later became associated with phonetic alphabetic symbols when such writing systems spread across Europe from Greece and Rome.

Runes were carved on monuments called Rune Stones that had a variety of purposes. There are over 3,000 such stones across Scandinavia. Some were memorials to the dead, some depicted legends, and others had supernatural functions such as protection and curses. A group of runestones called Sigurd Stones provide the earliest Norse depictions of the legend of Sigurd the dragon slayer. One commonly called the Ramsund Carving or Sigurd Carving (Sigurdsristningen) is shown at the top.

In these writings, runes are clearly used as alphabetic letters spelling out words in the old Norse language of the time. The chart above shows a set of runes called the Elder Futhark and the sound associated with each. It is known that individual runes carved on pieces of wood or bone were used in spell casting and divination. Exactly how these “rune staves” were used has been lost, but the symbolic meanings of each rune are known from writings such as the Poetic Edda, a collection of Old Norse poems. Modern practitioners have taken such information and devised divination methods using rune staves. Today one can find rune sets in wood, ceramic, on polished stones in the spiritual crystal shops, etc., as well as many books on interpreting runes for divinatory readings.

It is interesting to use the phonetic association of runes to spell out names, etc. The only caution is that English phonetic spelling does not correspond to how the runes form sounds. So while the name “Johnson” could be spelled by directly assigning a rune to each of the seven letters, the resulting phonetics would not match, because the “H” is silent. So:

ᛃ ᛟ ᚾ ᛇ ᛟ ᚾ

In my name Grothe, there is one rune ᚦ that corresponds to the “th” sound rather than using t and h.

X ᚱ ᛟ ᚦ

Scholars and mystics study the ancient Norse runes from many perspectives. There is information in the Kringen library and a multitude of other sources if you wish to explore further.

A Syttende Mai Memory

by Verlyn D. Anderson

On our first visit to Norway in 1971, Evonne and I traveled on our own for five weeks. We visited Evonne’s relatives who live in Eidsvoll, Norway during Norway’s Constitution Day, May 17th, celebration. It was an interesting time visiting Eidsvoll during that week because it was in Eidsvoll that Norway’s Constitution was written and enacted into law in 1814. Norway was still not an independent country until 1905 but they had a Constitution.

It was interesting to be there at that time to see how they celebrated their country’s Constitution Day. It was probably very much like being in Philadelphia on the 4th of July where our American Constitution was written and then enacted on July 4, 1776. The 17th of May is a full day of celebrating for all Norwegian citizens, young and old, but especially for the young people who are graduating from their high school year. They are called russ and those who graduate with a college-prep degree wear red clothing, paint their vehicles red and spend a couple of weeks partying before the Syttende Mai. Then they go back to school and take their final exams.

We were visiting Evonne’s relatives who were teachers in the local Eidsvoll schools. Very early on the morning of Sytttende Mai, we were awakened by a group of russ from their local high school who were out waking up their teachers with drums, musical instruments, and making a lot of noise by pounding on pots and pans! We didn’t know what was going on, but we got up and found out it was the custom for the russ to wake their teachers on the Syttende Mai. They were certainly there, making lots of noise.

Later that morning, the school children marched in a parade with their teachers, celebrating Norway’s Constitution Day. After the parade, we gathered at the Eidsvollsbygningen – the Eidsvoll historic building where Norway’s Constitution was signed on May 17, 1814. There we listened to several patriotic speeches. That afternoon, they had what we in the United States call a “Field Day” with lots of physical activities for both young and old. After the afternoon’s celebration, we returned to our relative’s home where we were served a traditional lapskaus dinner. Lapskaus is a stew that they had made the day before so they did not have to cook on the Syttende Mai. After that, we visited other relatives who each served us coffee and bløtkake, a layered cake with lots of whipped cream and fruit between each layer. After a few coffee stops, we were happy to get back to Sigmund’s house and relax!

In the following years, we have re-visited Norway many times and we have been fortunate to see the big Syttende Mai parade in Oslo. Sad to report, this is the second year in a row that Oslo has not been able to have their Syttende Mai parade and celebration because of the coronavirus. Hopefully, they will be able to return to celebrating the 17th of May like they have done so many years in the past.

The Kringen Trolls

One of the things we like to look for when we are at our Sons of Norway building is the mural and carved trolls that surround us in the lounge. Arvid Kristoffersen is the artist who painted the murals on the 90 feet of walls, then added more than 20 intricately carved, large trolls.

Bergenstoget plyndret inat!

by Stevie Mathre

At a time before 24-hour cable news stations, long before “fake news” became a serious problem, sometimes news outlets were deliberately misused to advertise, even sensationalize, a work of fiction. We’ve all probably heard of the 1938 radio dramatization of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, right? That wasn’t the first time something like that happened.

On March 24, 1923, Aftenposten ran the headline Bergenstoget plyndret inat! It translates as “The Bergen Train looted tonight!” It was made to look like news, with the typeface and positioned on the front page. The crime was supposed to take place on April 1, which was also Easter Sunday, when people would be on holiday and the police would be slow to respond. No robbery actually took place: it was the title of a new book written by Nordahl Grieg and Nils Lie, under the pseudonym Jonathan Jerve, and published by the well-known publishing house Gyldendal. It was Nordahl’s brother Harald Grieg who came up with the plan, expecting people to understand the April Fool’s joke. The book was an instant success.

Here’s the front page, and note that there’s no actual story to accompany the headline, and the small box on the right, which says it costs 2 kroner, from Gyldendal.

1923 Norwegian April Fools Prank in the newspaper Aftenposten

1923 Norwegian April Fools Prank in the newspaper Aftenposten

Thus was born the tradition of Påskekrim: Easter crime. Lightweight paperback novels were perfect for packing in a rucksack as people traveled to their cabins over the holiday. Crime novels weren’t new; the genre goes back to The Murder of Engine Maker Roolf-sen by Mauritz Hansen, from 1839-40. Since 1923 though, most crime novels have been published around Easter time. There are full-length novels, anthologies of short stories, and even mysteries printed on milk cartons.

The setting is perfect: lots of vacation time, cabins with limited accessibility, away from the cities, dark nights, days spent skiing, Kvikk Lunsj chocolate, and a fireplace. There’s nothing koselig about the characteristic bleak weather, gory details, and shocking violence in the typical Påskekrem, but perhaps the contrast is what makes reading it so satisfying.

Be sure to check out the selection of Scandinavian noir, and particularly the Norwegian crime novels, in the library. Some well-known Norwegian authors are KO Dahl, Karin Fossum, Anne Holt, Jo Nesbo, Gunnar Staalesen, and Kjersti Scheen.

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.