Sunday, February 15, 2009

Norwegian Valentine

It's been a very ethnic Valentine's Day weekend: Chinese last night and Norwegian today. I read in the current issue of Viking magazine that Norwegians don't so much "do" Valentine's Day; it is regarded as a commercialized holiday whose point is to show superficial signs of love one day a year by spending money (on candy, greeting cards, flowers, etc.). Sounds pretty American to me, so maybe it isn't so inappropriate for an American Sons of Norway lodge to have a Valentine's Day celebration. That's what our lodge, Hardanger 4-652, did this afternoon/evening.

We hadn't seen our fellow Sons of Norway for a couple months--not since the Thanksgiving celebration (remember?). There was supposed to have been a Christmas celebration (remember?) at which the girls were going to sing "Jeg Er Så Glad Hver Julekveld" ("I Am So Glad Each Christmas Eve"), but that was canceled due to anticipated bad weather. We missed the January meeting for some reason, but the girls were asked to provide music for today's meeting, so yesterday we practiced a couple songs for them to perform.

One was "Pål Sine Høner" ("Paul and His Chickens"), a song that I remember learning in elementary school from Mrs. Davis and later singing with my grandma at her house. Grandma Moberg had a series of decorative plates hanging on one wall with Norwegian words on each plate and pictures of a boy and chickens and a fox. I could kind of make out a "plot" from one plate to the next: something about the boy protecting the chickens from the fox and crying after losing to the crafty predator. After learning the song at school, I realized that it was what was on Grandma's plates, so she and I would sing the song together, and I would do my best to mimic her pronunciation. Well, yesterday I did my best to teach the song to the girls, and today they sang the opening verse first in Norwegian and then in English.

Yesterday we also practiced "Ain't She Sweet"--which I had them switch to "Ain't He Sweet"--and they sang that today, too, to fit the Valentine's Day mood of love (a mood not otherwise established by a song about a fox eating a boy's chickens). Susan captured some of the performance, which I share here for your edification:

I played piano for the girls and, because the usual piano player for the lodge wasn't at today's meeting, they asked me to play for them to sing the table prayer before we ate, so I did that, too. When it was time to eat, we had to find out with whom we would be eating. To encourage mingling with others, they had had us draw a half of a valentine when we entered the room. It had a number on it that matched the number written on the other half, which had been drawn by somebody else. Before we could go through the buffet line, we had to find the matching number/other half of our valentine and then sit with that person during supper.
The food was, again, delicious (chicken cordon bleu and many wonderful side dishes, plus strawberry-covered cheese cake for dessert), and the company was fine. I sat with a gentleman whose grandson is one of Suzanna's best friends (and whose daughter-in-law was one of Susan's high school classmates and currently is her colleague at the high school). The adults paired with each of our daughters were delighted to "take them in" and had compliments for Susan and me afterward on the girls' manners and visiting skills.
We played bingo afterward, and the girls were recruited to help out with the calling of the numbers, the keeping track of called numbers, the checking of cards whenever people claimed to have a bingo, and the distributing of the prizes. We went home with several prize bags ourselves, each containing various treats but, most importantly to me, Norwegian baking: rosettes and sandbakkels. The girls spent part of the time frosting sugar cookies (one of the lodge members brought the supplies thinking it would be a fun thing for the kids to do), which they distributed during bingo, and many of which they brought home with us afterward.
We had a good time celebrating Valentine's Day Norwegian-style (well, ND Norwegian-style, at least)!


  1. Cute songs! Were there other kids in attendance too or were the girls the only younsters? They have been very involved in the activities.

  2. There was one other younger person -- she's in junior high. Otherwise, our girls are the only regular "children" who attend. The business portion isn't their favorite part of the meeting, but they like the food and the fun afterwards!