Circus Juventas – Nordrsaga!

A post by our guest blogger, Kari Tauring, Nordic roots scholar, performer, and educator

Nordrsaga top pic
Photos courtesy of Circus Juventas

This past spring I was contacted by Circus Juventas and asked to lend my expertise in the myths and runes of the pre-Christian Nordic countries to their new summer show. I was quick to recommend Ingebretsen’s for unique catering and the organization Asafolk for Viking Era martial arts. We live in the center of a thriving Nordic ethnic enclave and resources are abundant! What a delight to get behind the scenes of such a production. The week before show opening my friend and colleague from Norway, Sonja Lidsheim and I presented Nordic songs and stories at the lunch hour. We sang in Old Norse, blew the birchbark lur and cow horn, and answered a barrage of questions from these talented youths who aimed to deepen their characterizations of these mythic entities. We gave the horn blessing at that time too. The first prayers in the horn were from Co-founder and Artistic Director Elizabeth “Betty” Butler whose first words were for the safety of these children as they push themselves to the limits of their ability. This set the tone for the opening night blessing as well.

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Courtesy of Circus Juventas

It was a perfect summer evening outside the Big Top on opening night. Asafolk were sword fighting and ax throwing, venders were selling beers called Saga and Hell, and the crowd was swelling as we sang and staved Komme Alle, Come Everyone. We offered the earth gifts of water from this sacred land, geitost (brown goat cheese) from the land of Nordic peoples, and put it together with potato lefse, the inter-continental “glue”. Then we passed the blowing horn from hand to hand, a long cow horn in the key of D. Grandmothers and children, parents and supporters held the horn and whispered into the bell, prayers for safety and brilliance for these young performers. When the horn was full of good wishes, I blew them into the nine worlds with three blasts! Then we took our seats. My mother and son (who had taken a summer class at Circus Juventas in his youth) with his girlfriend were on one side of me and my fellow Nordic staff carrier Aneesa was on the other side with her daughter who had been part of this organization from the age of eight. Together we took in the spectacle that is Nordrsaga!

The first lines of the Eddaic poem Voluspa (the staff carriers prophesy) in Old Norse sets the context for the performance. In the beginning was only Ice and Fire and Ginungagap, the gaping void. It is my voice, but not mine – the old poem is chanted through the mist of time while young, glowing acrobats whirl up and down on silks that stream from the heavens. We were moved to tears by that first act. It was graceful, powerful, and connected to a deep Nordic root.

You can hear my voice again as the Norns, the three ancient fate women who give direction and advice, guiding the hero through the nine worlds. The story line connects a new character, Leif, to the god Thor and the hammer Mjolnir which he has once again lost. The hero must confront Frost Giants, Fire Giants, a host of Viking warriors, and prove his worth by rescuing the hammer. Protected by Freyja and Odin both, the hero learns more about his worth that he ever could have guessed.

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Courtesy of Circus Juventas

The strength and stamina of these youths was simply amazing. For three hours, they twirled and tumbled, hung from the rafters and stilted across Midgard, holding one another up with feet, ribbons, sheer muscle, and an abundance of trust. If you have any knowlege of Norse myth you will easily recognize Freyja and her Valkyries, the Dwarves, Loki, Hela, the ice and fire giants. There is a nod to Tolkien as well when we are transported to Lothlórien the land of elves and an accompanying Finnish tune. The costuming and set design were brilliant and the whole thing was a whirling, magical, mind blower.

We all agreed that we should see the performance again. There is so much going on, so much to see, so much to experience, that it is impossible take it in all at once. Bring a stadium seat with you for comfort and a few extra dollars to spend on Ingebretsen’s kransekake bars being sold especially for this production and to support this amazing organization.

Circus Juventas was honored at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington, D.C. this past summer and seeing this production, you can surely understand why. As a mother who entrusted her child to this organization, as a participant in a new creation, and as a member of the community, I couldn’t be more proud of Circus Juventas. Best Summer Project Ever!

Nordrsaga runs every weekend through August 13. Tickets are available at: https://circusjuventas.ticketworks.com/

Kari on Medicine Lake

 

Ingebretsen’s is presenting Kari, who will be teaching her seasonally inspired Nordic root workshops at Norway House again this year. Her rune book and recordings are available at Ingebretsen’s.

Finland’s Emojis Summer Style

Finland is the first country in the world to publish its own set of country themed emojis. We have shared a few of those before but more have been added and today we are sharing emojis that are all about summer – both in Finland and here.

FASHIONISTA FINNS — The feeling of “smart casual”

It doesn’t get much more Finnish than this. For us, smart casual means being smart in terms of not getting your feet cold. Sandals make it a casual combo!

PESÄPALLO — The feeling of love and hate

You either love or hate it, the Finnish baseball. At schools, kids were divided into two teams by the captains, usually the best players. Those who were chosen first, love our national sport, those who were chosen last, hate it. In the end, the finesse of the game conquers the hate and we play pesäpallo all summer long in backyards, school grounds and with work teams and friends. One thing we all love about the game: we are the World Champions in one sport every single year. Continue reading

Celebrating Sigrid Undset: Norwegian Writer

Sigrid Undset was a Norwegian novelist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928 for which she was nominated by Helga Eng, member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. She was born on May 20, 1882 in Kalundborg, Denmark, but her family moved to Norway when she was two years old. She grew up in the Norwegian capital, Oslo (or Kristiania, as it was known until 1925). She fled Norway for the United States in 1940 because of her opposition to Nazi Germany and the German invasion and occupation of Norway, but returned after World War II ended in 1945. She died on June 10, 1949.

Her best-known work is Kristin Lavransdatter, a trilogy about life in Scandinavia in the Middle Ages, portrayed through the experiences of a woman from birth until death. Its three volumes were published between 1920 and 1922. The title was Fru Marta Oulie, and the opening sentence (the words of the book’s main character) scandalized readers: “I have been unfaithful to my husband.”

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A Bit of Nordic Ice Tea

Iced tea is probably an American creation; the first recipe for the drink as we know it appeared in the cookbook Housekeeping in Old Virginia by Marion Cabell Tyree and published in 1879. The proportions of sugar to tea and lemon put Ms. Tyree’s creation squarely in the category of what we now call Southern sweet tea. The 1904 World’s Fair, the one that also brought us the ice cream cone, was where unsweetened black tea over ice was introduced to Americans from across the nation. As ice boxes became more readily available, the popularity of iced tea increased. Now, we have the American holiday of National Iced Tea Day. In honor of this very good idea, tomorrow, June 10, Ingebretsen’s will be serving samples of iced tea with a Scandinavian twist – tea brewed from black Sӧderblandning tea.

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Söderblandning is the most popular blend sold at The Tea Center of Stockholm, a Swedish shop specializing in fine teas. It combines China and Ceylon black tea with flowers, including roses, cornflowers, and sunflowers, and tropical fruits. It’s exceptionally fragrant and a story has grown up around the blend. Brochures from when the Tea Center began exporting to the United States said that the combination was the happy result of ingredients spilling from a shelf and into a container of tea leaves on the shop counter while the owner was toiling away, working to find a new blend. You don’t have to believe Sӧderblandning’s creation myth to enjoy it, though the story is a compelling argument for cluttered work spaces.

Tea Soderblandning CW1007

Also Ingebretsen’s Kaffe Bar at Norway House will be providing samples of iced Sӧderblandning tea tomorrow, too. Iced tea isn’t our only drink offering there. Kaffe Bar employee Delta Keating took the Nordic-American-fusion-beverage theme one step further and created Arne Palmerssons – his take on the Arnold Palmer.

Delta explains, “Well, my friends and I all love Arnold Palmers, and the mix of lemonade and iced tea seemed like the perfect summer treat to sell at the Kaffe Bar. Using the Sӧderblandning black tea was a great way to put a Scandinavian twist on an American classic, and its citrus and floral notes nicely harmonize with the lemonade.

I think it’s been received so well because it’s a refreshing addition to our lineup of iced drinks, particularly for people looking for something a bit less sweet than a soda or saft. There’s probably a healthy dash of people finding the name “Arne Palmersson” amusing enough to give it a try as well.”

So please stop by Ingebretsen’s or Also Ingebretsen’s and celebrate National Iced Tea Day with us. If you decide to take a bag of Sӧdeblandning home with you, you may also want to try a combination suggested by The Tea Center – a cup of hot Sӧderblandning and a glass of port, even though you’ve missed National Wine Day, May 25.

If you really want to impress us and ask for your sample in Swedish, you can practice with this video of 10 tea-related vocabulary words:

 

– Carstens Smith

 

 

Our friends at the Norwegian American need some help.

Newspaper publishing is a brutal business, and when you’re a tiny newspaper for an ethnic group that now maintains ties because they enjoy doing so, not because they have to, it’s an even more difficult business. The brave new generation of Norwegian American staff have launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to give them capital to keep going through a particularly tight spot. They saved the paper from folding before, and we believe that they can do it again. Ingebretsen’s has supported the Norwegian American for decades through our advertising and we want to give them another boost by letting all of you know that you can help keep the presses rolling.

The writers and editors of the Norwegian American are a clever lot, so we’ll let them tell their story, what they need, how you can help and how they will thank donors: click here.

Authors John Yilek, David Thoreson provide a glimpse into the past and a view of the future.

On Saturday, April 29, two exceptional authors will be signing books and sharing their respective insights that their research has given them.

John Yilek’s first book, History of Norway, has been a popular title at Ingebretsen’s since the day we began to carry it. It is an overview of Norway’s past and John used “the hundreds of pages of notes” that he wrote while teaching Norwegian history for Mindekirken’s Norwegian Language and Culture program.  An attorney and adjunct law professor for 35 years, John’s long-time avocation has been Norwegian history and culture. He studied the language so he could read original source material and has made numerous trips to Norway.

Yilek book covers

Stories of Norway are stories that I found while researching my first book. They’re from Norwegian-language sources, so they aren’t as well known here,” says John. Some of the nineteen stories are legendary, some historical, and all focus on individuals who, in some form, shaped Norwegian history. You will look at the statue of Ole Bull in Loring Park with a deeper appreciation after reading John’s book.

John will be at Ingebretsen’s, 1601 East Lake Street, Minneapolis, from 1 to 3 on Saturday. He will give a reading from Stories of Norway, sign copies, and talk with people.

Sailor, explorer, and champion for preserving the Arctic, David Thoreson will be at Norway House,  from 10 to 2. His book, Over the Horizon; Exploring the Edges of a Changing Planet chronicles the changes he observed in the Arctic while sailing and exploring the area. The book and the gallery exhibit at Norway House draw from Thoreson’s journal entries and photographs as he documented these changes.

Thoreson’s conversational and somewhat sparse writing style (keeping a journal while pitching about at sea probably teaches one to get to the point quickly) explains the science in a way that is easy to comprehend and the personal anecdotes make you feel as if you are reading a letter from a particularly interesting friend.

Most important, Thoreson makes us understand that we are at a tipping point in climate history. What we do now will have implications for our children, grandchildren, and beyond. David will be at Norway House, 913 E. Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis, at 10 to have coffee, talk, and sign books. He will give a guided gallery tour at noon, then take questions afterwards.

Please join us for both events and take advantage of this opportunity to speak one-on-one with the authors in a welcoming setting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Is Here (In Iceland)

Iceland has a unique holiday celebrated only in Iceland, Sumardagurinn fyrsti — the First Day of Summer. Of course after a long winter it makes complete sense that Icelanders want to celebrate the arrival of summer, but why is it celebrated in late April when freezing temperatures are likely to occur in Iceland.

So What’s Up With This Early Celebration?

The Sumardagurinn fyrsti is a national holiday. Its roots are based in the old Icelandic calendar that was used from the 9th Century during the settlement of Iceland until as recently as the 19th Century.

There were only two seasons, winter and summer according to the Icelandic calendar. (In Minnesota it is often said there are only two seasons, winter and road construction but that’s not based on any historical fact — it’s just based on frustration.) Summer started in late April and lasted until late October. The old calendar was week-based so the official timing of the first day of summer was the second Thursday after April 11th, on the first day of the month of Harpa.

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Celebrations to Remember – A Book Signing with Soile Anderson and Eleanor Ostman

Soile Anderson

At Also Ingebretsen’s, the cardamom bolle is our most popular pastry. There’s good reason; it’s a bread-like roll with almonds and cardamom, light, flavorful, and aromatic. It’s also one of the many items we sell that come from Deco Catering, founded by Soile Anderson.

We were very pleased to be able to work with Soile as a supplier for our Kaffe Bar. She has a well-earned reputation for providing exceptional food and has set the gold standard for catering, particularly for Nordic-themed events. Her long list of accomplishments includes preparing a Midsummer dinner for Martha Stewart Living magazine, cooking for the Dalai Lama, President Barak Obama, and the King and Queen of Norway as well as being featured on the Food Network with erudite host Alton Brown.

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Soile and staff with President Barack Obama

Recently, Soile sold her business, though her son Heikki is still a partner in Deco and her recipes are still used. This has given her time to write a book combining her ideas for decorations and themed events along with her best-loved recipes. Eleanor Ostman, former food writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, wrote the text while Soile pared the recipes down to family-size proportions (though we’re sure she’d be willing to share tips on how to cook for 200) and selected photographs. The end result is Celebrations to Remember; Exceptional Party Décor and Fabulous Food.

 

Also Ingebretsen’s is very pleased to have both Soile and Eleanor at our store to sign books this coming Saturday, April 22 at Also Ingebretsen’s at Norway House from 10 to 2.  Soile and Eleanor would be happy to chat with you about food and decorating. Soile will give a presentation from 10:30 to 11, sharing some of her favorite tips.

Saturday, April 22nd

Location: Norway House
911 E. Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404

Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with talk from 10:30 to 11:00.

Also Ingebretsen’s phone: 612.870.5772

 

 

Norway Easter Tradition Starts With Fake News

In Norway, Easter (Påske) is celebrated with a tradition known as Påskekrim or Easter-Crime. For some reason, Easter is a high time for reading crime stories and detective novels in Norway, where many say Easter and the crime genre work well together.

In February 1923, two Norwegians, Nordahl Grieg and Nils Lie, wrote a crime novel about the looting of a train to Bergen. The book was called The Bergen train was robbed in the night (or, in its original Norwegian: Bergenstoget plyndret i natt).

Their next step was to get people to buy the book. They came up with a brilliant plan and one that may have been the origin of fake news, 15 years before Orwell’s “War of the Worlds” fake news radio broadcast. They advertised in the nation newspaper Aftenposten by putting the title of the book on the front page. They convinced thousands of readers that the headline was news as opposed to a publicity stunt. It became the most popular Easter book in Norwegian history and is considered the start to Påskekrim.

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