Father Son Horns Portrait

Name Game

What does your Scandinavian name mean?

Before the advent of cell phones made telephone books virtually obsolete, the phone books in areas settled by Scandinavians in the United States listed page after page of Johnsons, Andersons, Nelsons, Hansens and even a few Ingebretsens. Their meaning was simple: someone named Ole Andersen, for example, (Andersen in Norwegian and Danish and Andersson in Swedish (the double s is also Icelandic) was the son of Anders. The next generation repeated the process and Ole Andersen’s son Peter became known as Peter Olsen and HIS son John would be John Petersen.

It was a simple—so-called patronymic –system, which lasted for many generations. Eventually, Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Faroe Islands) abandoned this system and stuck with the latest surname. Thus, an Andersen stayed an Andersen forevermore. Iceland is the last holdout. There, men take their father’s names as their surname and women tack ‘dottir’ onto their dad’s first name. So, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, former president of Iceland, is the daughter of Finnbogi Thorvaldsson and Sigurdur Eiriksdottir.

But what of the names that don’t end in son, sen or sson? Many take the names of their farms, which in turn may be descriptions of a geographical or local feature, such as Bakke (hill or rise), Berg or Berge (mountain or hill), Borg (castle); Grahn (spruce); Eng (meadow); Eld (fire); Blom (bloom); Hagen (enclosed pasture);  Moen (meadow); Falk (Falcon); Rud (clearing);  and Lie (side of a mountain). Those who served in the military often were given short names that described desirable qualities, such as ‘Rapp’ (quick) and ‘Stolt, (proud). The clergy, academics and nobility often tucked Latin or Greek endings onto their names, perhaps to add a bit more gravitas. Carl Linnaeus, the botanist, is one example.

Some surnames mean the same in Norwegian, Danish or Swedish: Lund (grove of trees); Dahl (valley) Strand (seashore), Hall (one who works in a noble’s house). Sometimes two words are linked to form a name: Bergquist (mountain twig); Solbakken (sunny hill); Bergman (mountain man); Björkman (birch man); Almstedt (elm place or house); Ahlgren (alder branch); Holmström (islet stream); and so on. For information on your name, check a dictionary in one of the Scandinavian languages or google.no (Norway), google.se (Sweden) or google.dk.

Below are the ten most common names in Norwegian, Danish, Swedish and Finnish.

Most common surnames in Norway in 2005:

1.     Hansen

2.     Johansen

3.     Olsen

4.     Larsen

5.     Andersen

6.     Pedersen

7.     Nilsen

8.     Kristiansen

9.     Jensen

10.   Karlsen

 

In Sweden in 2013 

1.     Johansson

2.     Andersson

3.     Karlsson

4.     Nilsson

5.     Eriksson

6.     Larsson

7.     Olsson

8.     Persson

9.     Svensson

10.   Gustafsson

 

 

In Denmark in 2014 

1.     Jensen

2.     Nielsen

3.     Hansen

4.     Pedersen

5.     Andersen

6.     Christensen

7.     Larsen

8.     Sørensen

9.     Rasmussen

10.   Jørgensen

 

In Finland in 2001 

1.Virtanen

2. Korhonen

3. Mäkinen

4. Nieminen

5. Mäkela

6. Hämäläinen

7. Laine

8. Heikkinen

9. Koskinen

10. Jarvinen

booksigning (2)

Photo credit: Ewa Rydåker

The author, Anne Gillespie Lewis is the daughter of John Gillespie and Eleanor Anderson. Eleanor’s mother was Melissa Petersen and HER mother was Christine Andersson—and so it goes! And don’t even ask about all the Peter Petersons in another branch of the family.

 

 

A Vexillogical View of Norway

 

syttende mai 2011

Is “vexillology” a new word for you?  It certainly was for us when it cropped up on “The Big Bang Theory” as one of Dr. Sheldon’s passions.  Vexillology refers to the study of flags and related emblems.

The Romans were the first to use cloth flags, attached to the top of poles, to indicate the location of officers on the battlefield. A flag’s design and colors are significant to its country.  The flags of the five Scandinavian countries all bear the Nordic cross which represents Christianity.  The Norwegian flag, for instance, is red, white, and blue.  Red for hardiness, bravery, valor; white for peace and honesty; and blue for vigilance, truth, loyalty and justice.

The Norwegian flag was designed in 1821 by Fredrick Meltzer, who was a member of Norway’s parliament. A previous flag combined the Danish flag with a Norwegian lion to show the close connection between the two countries. By 1821, however, Norwegians were ready for a flag that was distinctly their own. Meltzer’s striking design was soon adopted. Seeing images of Syttende Mai (Constitution Day) marches, we think the choice was a good one.

 

 Among the flag-flying holidays in Norway are February 21 (the king’s birthday), May 17 (Constitution Day), and July 29 (St Olaf’s Day).

Here at Ingebretsen’s we celebrate all things Scandinavian and we have an extensive variety of items related to flags. Scandinavians are always ready to celebrate their nations’ histories and traditions. We can help you celebrate with our many flags, in many sizes.  We also have wind socks, flag garlands (for Christmas trees), vimples (long narrow pennants — great for the mast of your sailboat), napkins, jewelry, clothing (even soccer shirts in adult and kid sizes), winter wear, mugs, stationery, and more with flag motifs.  Flags on toothpicks, any one? They’re  perfect for cheese cubes on an appetizer tray or a special  dessert like kransekake.

Kransekake-Pair

Planning a Syttende  Mai party?  Or perhaps a Midsummer party?  Dazzle your friends not only with your broad vocabulary  but also with your authentic party decor.  Table flags and napkins are in stock and ready to  ship.  Check them out at our website     ingebretsens.com.

(Would you like some line drawings of Norwegian flags and maps for children to color? Click here.)

– Virginia Fuhrken

 

 

 

 

 

Sviskegrøt-DSC_2862

Old-School Norwegian Prune Porridge (Sviskegrøt)

The following is re-posted  from Daytona Strong’s blog, Outside Oslo. She writes eloquently on the connection between food and family and brings our attention to recipes that are sometimes forgotten. Enjoy!

(Please note that if you want to try Daytona’s recipes, you can find vanilla sugar right here at Ingebretsen’s )

I can’t help but feel like a detective or a historian when I go digging into traditional Scandinavian recipes, trying to find clues to help me understand my heritage and family history better. The way my story goes, my grandma–the Continue reading Old-School Norwegian Prune Porridge (Sviskegrøt)→

Source: Old-School Norwegian Prune Porridge (Sviskegrøt)

designer-tapio-wirkkala

Ultima Thule

First, let’s answer a frequently asked question: How do you pronounce the name of the Finnish glassware that looks like it is melting?

We’ll skip the International Phonetic Alphabet and go straight to the wonders of the Internet: How to pronounce Ultima Thule.

Ultima Thule is Latin for “the furthest point north.” It implies being on the furthest edge of civilization. It’s also used to describe an almost-impossible goal.  Both definitions fit this particular design.  Designer Tapio Wirkkala (pictured above) was inspired by the beauty of the melting ice during a visit to Lapland, the northernmost region of Finland. Once back in his studio, Wirkkala began the exacting work of creating a glass that reflected the image he had in his mind.

To achieve the desired look, Wirkkala combined using a graphite mold and glass blowing. Using a graphite mold is an ancient technique (see video below).

However, the intricacy of the Ultima Thule pattern required thousands of hours of experimenting and testing to develop a glass-blowing technique that showed the detail and texture.

Few companies would support a designer spending time and resources in that way. But ittala’s values are unique and their mission statement is uncompromising: “We believe that objects should be distinctive, combinable, and multi-functional, with lasting design that inspires individual use and expression…We believe in timeless design that will never be thrown away.”

If something is never to be thrown away, it’s worth taking the time to do right. That was the investment iittala was willing to make and the vision Wirkkala was committed to making reality. The perseverance paid off.  Ultima Thule is still one of iittala’s best selling patterns, forty-seven years after it was introduced.

A success like that deserves a toast, and here is a recipe that will make that toast truly delicious:

 

edduodji

D is for Duodji

Anessa Andersland is the guest writer for this post. Anessa is the North American marketing agent for  ČálliidLágádus / Authors’ Publisher, a Sámi  publishing company. She helps coordinate our annual Sámi Day at Ingebretsen’s, which is this coming Saturday. In this post, she will explain some of what you’ll see there. 

Duodji (doy – gee): the Sámi name for handcrafted items made by the Sámi with both an aesthetic value and a practical use. This long tradition uses materials derived from nature such as reindeer hide and antler, wood, and wool.   Duodji items include clothing, accessories, household items, and tools.

nilsduodji2

Before and after: A tenntrådsbroderi cuff bracelet made by Nils Gransberg.

nilsduodji

As a reflection of a living culture, duodji interprets the Sámi way of life, the traditional patterns, colors, and shapes are presented in both old and new ways. Sámi handicraft utilizes both the old traditional methods while fully using new technologies when applicable. “It represents cultural continuity with our ancestors.” Author Ellen Marie Jensen states, “There are creative and functional adaptations over time, and the individual duojar has room for individual creative expression. Duodji is both functional and beautiful.”

IMG_20140426_132830433

Tanned fish skin can also be used for duodji.  This skin was shown by Diane Noble of Ingebretsen’s Stockholm, WI.

 

Duodji represents the artistry and style of the duojar, (the duodji artist) and in the case of clothing called gakti, the region that the wearer’s family is from.

ellenshow

Ellen Marie Jensen wears a gakti called “Loppa kofta” in Norwegian. It’s the coastal Sami gakti representing the Kvænungen, Loppa, and Alta municipalities of Northern Troms and Finnmark provinces. The detailing on the shoulders and cuffs is similar to other coastal designs, but the yellow zig-zag is its distinctiveness.

In the United States, members of the Sámi Siida of North America (SSNA) are taking up a variety of duodji. Many knit and hand sew, some, such as Nils Gransberg of Oklahoma, practice tenntrådsbroderi, an intricate metal embroidery. Minneapolis resident Ed Kopietz works with wood. One of his recent projects features cherry wood from a fellow SSNA member’s yard.

edduodji

In progress: Ed Kopietz’s cherry wood spoon

Once again, the SSNA will meet at Ingebretsen’s for our Annual Sámi Day on December 5th, from 11am – 3pm.  We will be gathering to visit and some of us will practice some duodji. Stop by for a cup of coffee and say hello!

 

What We Believe In – A book talk and signing with Ellen Marie Jensen

E.M. Jensen

Ellen Marie Jensen, editor and translator for What We Believe In.

“The belief that the Sámi had supernatural powers probably helped save them,” says Ellen Marie Jensen, editor of What We Believe In and PhD Research Fellow in Sámi and Indigenous Studies at the University of Tromsø, Norway. When witches were being burned in Norway during the 1600s, more Norwegian women were burned at the stake than Sámi. This was despite the fact that the Sámi were considered more suspect because of being a little-understood minority with different cultural practice than the Norwegians. “People were a little afraid of them and wanted to leave them alone so they wouldn’t work their magic against the Norwegians,” says Ellen. This isolation allowed aspects of the culture to stay intact and to continue into the modern day.

Another influence that has kept the Sámi worldview and knowledge of the natural world alive is Laestadian Lutheranism. “There’s a discussion of whether Lars Levi Laestadius [a Swedish- Sámi botanist and theologian who lived in the first half of the 1800s] saved or destroyed the culture. We need to remember what he preserved, such as the language. He believed that the Sámi and their lifestyle made them close to God,” says Ellen. “He was the first to really advocate for the Sámi.” Laestadius’s own respect for Sámi beliefs and culture helped keep many practices alive. What We Believe In examines his influence on Sámi spirituality as it is practiced now. “In writing about spirituality, we have to work with what we have today. There is a spectrum of what we are about,” explains Ellen, “but it all contains cultural continuity.”

What We Believe In is available at Ingebretsen's, both in-store and on-line.

What We Believe In is available at Ingebretsen’s, both in-store and on-line.

Writing What We Believe In came about because ČálliidLágádus / Authors’ Publisher, a Sámi publisher, received requests from academics and from tourists for a comprehensive overview of Sámi spirituality. Ellen was asked to be editor and she compiled a book in which the first half explains the history, the spirituality, and how ancient beliefs manifest themselves in the present culture. The second half tells about Sámi healing, herbal, and plant knowledge. Anessa Andersland, Authors’ Publisher North American Marketing Agent, is looking forward to a summer of promoting What We Believe In. “I think that this book will spark engaging conversations wherever we go,” she says.

Ellen will be at Ingebretsen’s on Saturday, July 18 from 11 to 1 to discuss What We Believe In and to sign books. Please join us, along with Ellen’s daughter Diane, who will be selling the handcrafted leather bags that she has made.

Diane Jensen-Connel studies Sami handcrafts.

Diane Jensen-Connel studies Sami handcrafts.

Diane Jensen-Connel has found her own niche for exploring and expressing her heritage. She was born in Minneapolis and has lived and attended school in Norway. Diane’s grandfather is a coastal Sámi grandfather from west-Finnmark and she learned Sámi handicrafts in Deatnu / Tana at the Culture School from a skilled artisan traditional Sámi handicrafter. In addition, she is also self-taught and creates her own designs. She has sewn Sámi design dresses, weaves, and draws designs. Her favorite craft is working with reindeer leather. Diane says, “Sámi duodji is interesting because I learn about the past and it’s cool that they still use the same materials and techniques today. I started learning Sámi duodji when I lived in a Sámi community in Deatnu / Tana, where I had a lot of friends.”

The New Nordic Cuisine keeps an ancient tradition: nettle soup.http://www.ingebretsens.com/the-nordic-diet.html

Nettles – A Food for Feast and Famine

Nettles are disliked by gardeners and hikers, but appreciated in cuisines throughout the Northern hemisphere as a source of cheap, nutritious fare. Many people associate the green with foods eaten during famines and economic downturns, but its image is on the rise. Anne Gillespie Lewis, food writer and author of The Ingebretsen’s Saga, points out that though people in many countries have used nettles for nourishing food when money for other things was scarce, nettle soup was served to the Nobel winners at their gala dinner in December is Sweden a few years ago. “It’s fit for kings, peasants and scientists!” she says.

Nettles-2

All nettle varieties are edible, but stinging nettles (shown) are a favorite for soup and greens.

Four years ago, Jennie Bergstrom of Lino Lakes discovered a crop of nettles in her yard. She decided to learn about the plant she knew was important to her ancestor’s Nordic diet while “getting a little revenge” on the stinging plant. She learned that since the Viking age, ancestral people in northern hemispheres joyously greeted nettles, the first greens to appear after long winters of eating dried, salted, and smoked foods. Nettles were eagerly gathered as a much-needed addition to people’s diet. Nettles abound in calcium, iron, vitamins A, C, and K, and are surprisingly high in protein.

Bergstrom took this tradition and now invites friends to come to her spacious yard where they gather nettle leaves. The leaves are made into soup often over a campfire for full effect. Each individual bowl is garnished with half of a hard-boiled egg, sliced length-wise. The egg is more than just decorative; the egg complements the nettles in a way the total flavor is more than a sum of its parts. It is also a powerful evocation of spring.

Nordic Roots Educator Kari Tauring explains, “The older breeds of chicken don’t lay eggs in winter. It isn’t until the spring equinox that they start again. To put in egg in a soup made with fresh greens was to celebrate that a corner had been turned, that the long darkness was over.” Though fresh food isn’t a novelty for Bergstrom’s guests, the symbolism is important. Sonja Carlson, a regular at the nettle soup gatherings says, “It connects me to the Swedish side of my family. You could call it ‘food for the northern European soul’.”

The Native People of North America long recognized the value of the nettle. Hope Flanagan is an Ojibwe language teacher at Wicoie Nandagikendan Urban Immersion Preschool in Minneapolis. She teaches children to recognize and use plants to create a healthful diet, both in her work at the preschool and as a volunteer at Dream of Wild Health, a Native owned and operated organic farm in Hugo, Minnesota. “Every plant has its gift, whether it is food, medicine, or utility. Nettles are free nutrition. Why do we try to get rid of them? I teach people to look at nettles’ assets.”

The first part of using the nettles’ assets is gathering the leaves safely. Arm yourself with gardening gloves, a sack to hold the leaves, scissors, and a long-sleeved shirt. Snip off the tender top part of the plant, and pluck any larger, but still tender, leaves from the stalk. Most of the stinging hairs are on the stalk, so avoid handling that part of the plant. If your skin does become irritated from handling nettles, Flanagan suggest looking for some jewelweed and rubbing its leaf on the spot that itches. “The remedy grows next to the challenge,” she says, meaning that you can usually find jewelweed growing next to nettles.

Kari Tauring has her gardening gloves on before collecting the nettles that surround her.

Kari Tauring has her gardening gloves on before collecting the nettles that surround her.

Nettles can be substituted for spinach in almost any recipe. They have an earthier flavor, so it is advisable to taste and adjust seasonings. The proportions of leaf to cooked are the same as spinach, too: a pound of nettle leaves, 10-12 cups, makes one cup of cooked nettles.

Once at home, a quick way to prepare nettles for cooking is to fill the sink or a large bowl with warm water and soak the nettles for ten minutes. Remove the nettles with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl, now ready to be cooked. This rinsing removes the irritating formic acid, so dispose of the water. Cooks who take the extra step of blanching – boiling the nettles in salted water, then shocking them in an ice bath – are rewarded with a vibrant, jewel green that is food-magazine worthy, especially when making nässelsoppa, Swedish nettle soup. (After clicking on the link, please scroll down to find the printable recipe.)

The New Nordic Cuisine keeps an ancient tradition: nettle soup.http://www.ingebretsens.com/the-nordic-diet.html

The New Nordic Cuisine keeps an ancient tradition: nettle soup.

Cooking truly does remove all of the sting, though sometimes that’s a tough sell to skeptics. When Hope Flanagan teaches children to cook with nettles, “the proof is in the broth.” Once one child accepts the challenge of eating some soup, his or her surprised look and “oh wow” response is enough for the other children to dive in.

Hope also has her contemporary uses of nettles. She uses them dried and crumbled in rubs for poultry and game. “You can dry nettles as you would any herb,” she says, “including in the microwave…if you pay attention.”

Hope Flanagan teaches the next generation to appreciate nettles.

Hope Flanagan teaches the next generation to appreciate nettles.

Increasingly people are recognizing the nettle as the food superstar that it is: it’s cheap, it has a wealth of nutrients, including protein and calcium, and it’s versatile. Gardeners can now purchase nettles at the Friends School Plant Sale. Henry Fieldseth, plant buyer for the Sale, says, “There is a growing interest in permaculture and native food plants.” Nettles fit that description, and as a perennials, they are environmentally better than annual food crops.

Fieldseth wanted to sell nettles and he found a local supplier, Will Heal Farm in Cedar, Minnesota. The Friends sell enough seedlings to justify stocking the plant, though it is not a best-seller. “We sell hundreds of flats of basil and maybe 40 to 50 nettle plants total,” Fieldseth says. However, appreciation for the hardy perennial grows. One day, kale might not be the only celebrity green.

If you don't want to eat nettles, you always have the option of making them into a fetching dirndl-style apron, a la Elsa Beskow's The Flowers' Festival.

If you don’t want to eat nettles, you always have the option of making them into a fetching dirndl-style apron, a la Elsa Beskow’s The Flowers’ Festival.

– Carstens Smith