What is Your Scandinavian Name?

National Name Yourself Day is observed each year on April 9. To celebrate, you are allowed to give yourself a new name for one day. To help you find a new name, we have created the easy as 1-2-3 “How To Create Your New Scandinavian Name”:

1. Take the first 3 letters of your first name + “uffda”
2. The last think you ate + “sson”
3. Take the first 3 letters of your last name + “tefiskström”

For example (envisioning the last thing they ate) you would get:

Abraham Lincoln = Abruffda Chickensson Lintefiskström
Betty White = Betuffda Eggsson Whitefiskström
Stephen Colbert = Steuffda Pancakesson Coltefiskström
Vladimir Putin = Vlauffda Vodkasson Puttefiskström

Or you can buy “A Handbook of Scandinavian Names” by Nancy L. Coleman and Olav Veka – I mean Nanuffdah Cookiesson Coltefiskström and Olav Veka (you can’t improve on that).

Easter Tree, Oh Easter Tree

Easter Tree in SwedenSpring is here and April is only days a way. It is time to make your Easter Tree or Påskris – a popular tradition in Sweden.

In the markets of Sweden you will see buckets and baskets filled with colorful feathers for Påskris. The feathers are tied to twigs and placed in a container. Much like a Christmas tree, you then can add decorations but this time they are all types of symbols of spring such as roosters, hens, birds of all kinds, butterflies, and of course, eggs as colorful as the feathers.

(You can find materials you need for your own Påskris at Ingebretsen’s.)

These colorful twigs with feathers have a not so cheerful story behind its origin. In the 1600’s Swedish people used to take twigs and sticks and beat each other with them on Good Friday to commemorate the suffering of Jesus. In the 1800’s and 1900’s, they decided to stop hitting each other and started to decorate the twigs and they became a symbolic decoration for Easter.

It’s been suggested that the feather twigs represent the palm leaves that were placed on the ground for Jesus’ donkey to walk on in his triumphant return to Jerusalem celebrated on Palm Sunday. Since there are as many palm trees in Sweden as there are in Minnesota (outdoor palm trees to be precise), this was the best they could do to imitate this tradition.

Some Swedes say the Easter Tree symbolizes the wiping away the winter. The twigs represent a broom and the feathers get caught in the broom as we sweep.

K0323_4But since Easter Feathers really don’t look much like palm leaves there may be a couple other reasons for their use (that we are making up right now):

  • It is a warning to all birds that if they chose to “drop” on the local wagons, carts, or Volvos they may find themselves in the same situation as their colorful companions.
  • Much like Linus’ Great Pumpkin, these feathered twigs are offered to the Great Easter Spring Chicken to show her that we are worthy of the warmer weather and that under our parkas we bear clothing of radiant colors.
  • It is an attempt to appease Höðr – the Nordic God of winter, who is not so keen on being pushed aside. Nor is Höðr pleased with the delight and happiness his leaving seems to bring to the natives.

Whatever the “truth” is, we love these Easter Trees and if you haven’t made one in the past we hope you will start a new tradition. When you do, send us a picture and we will post it.

Here is a YouTube video to help you create your Påskris.

Plover Lovers

Iceland Magazine

Iceland Monitor is reporting that the first European gold plovers have arrived in Iceland – which according to tradition also means spring has arrived.

According to an old Icelandic tradition, the arrival of first European golden plover is considered to mark the long awaited beginning of spring and when the first plover is spotted it is announced on every Icelandic news channel every year. The European golden plover is a much loved bird by Icelanders. Some fly in all the way from North-Africa to spend the spring and summer in Iceland.

Approximately half of the golden plover European population breed is in Iceland, with around 500 to 700 thousand breeding pairs. During the winter the birds stay in the British Isles and along the coast in other countries in western Europe all the way to Gibraltar, and some go even as far as to North-Africa.

The golden plover is held in especially high regard in Iceland. It is a protected species and it is considered a sacrilege to kill the bird.

The plover’s arrival this year appears to deliver on that promise; “farewell to the snow.”, the snow seems to be clearing up around most of the country. But as Icelanders well know, April can be volatile in terms of weather so we will have to wait and see. None the less, the day of the plover’s arrival is a mild one all over the coastline with half cloudy and clear skies and temperatures nodding around zero degrees.

Ice News reports:

As reported by the Bird Watching Centre in the southeast of Iceland, four golden plovers were spotted in flight around Hofn, early this morning. Those are the first plovers spotted arriving this spring.

The golden plover holds very specific place in the heart of Icelanders and she is muse to poets and artists. Icelandic schoolchildren welcome the bird with a song called “Lóan er komin”, including the line: “The plover is come to bid farewell to the snow”.

You can hear Lóan er komin here:


Spring Grove Soda Pop – Stop and smell the soda.

Drop by Ingebretsen’s Kaffe Bar at Norway House  and you’ll see a colorful array of 8 different flavors of Spring Grove Soda Pop  on the counter. Some people have an instant-nostalgia reaction upon seeing them, often exclaiming, “I didn’t know they still made that!” Yes, it’s still made. As a matter of fact, Spring Grove Soda Pop has been produced continually since 1895.

Others are surprised to learn that there is such a thing as small, locally made soda pop, but wonder what the Norwegian connection is. The connection is that Spring Grove is the site of the first Norwegian settlement in Minnesota. The residents keep that heritage alive through festivals, a folk school, and in simple, daily ways including stamping Mange Tusen Takk! (Norwegian for “many thousand thanks”) on the bottles of Spring Grove Soda Pop.


Bob and Dawn Hansen are the current owners of the company. They bought the business at a good time. In the same way the craft beer movement is growing, people are increasingly enjoying craft sodas. Bob laughs as he says, “We’re upscale now!” Upscale, but not pretentious. The Hansens have some absolutes so as to ensure quality, such as using only glass bottles and pure cane sugar. However, they are not above working with the Midwest’s most ubiquitous vegetable, rhubarb, from which they created a best-selling flavor.


Originally commissioned by the Lanesboro Rhubarb Festival committee, the rhubarb soda was bottled and sold exclusively at the festival. Bob, however, saw an opportunity for a drink that might have wider appeal. He continued to taste, tweek, and try different formulas. “My test for a flavor is to ask myself, ‘would I want another one?’” says Bob.  Adding strawberry flavor gave the right level of sweetness and sales testify that people definitely “want another one.” There is enough of a demand that the flavor, now christened “Rhuberry,” has gone from being a seasonal drink to one that is now offered year round.

When asked if he had any plans to keep a more recent Norwegian tradition and develop a Christmas soda, Bob slyly replies, “What, like a lutefisk flavor?” Well, one hopes not. While Bob doesn’t have immediate plans for a new holiday soda, there are plenty of good flavors available already.

The Ingebretsen’s Kaffee Bar has just started carrying Spring Grove Soda Pop’s cream soda. Those who know about cream soda, love it. Those who don’t, are completely mystified by the name. How is this brown, translucent beverage related to a dairy product? The name, origins, and required ingredients of cream soda is debatable. The Spring Grove Soda Pop version does not have any cream in it. It does have vanilla flavoring and theirs is particularly smooth. When the first case arrived at the Kaffee Bar, the staff had a tasting. Drew, without having any idea of Bob Hansen’s criteria for a good soda, said, “Good enough you’ll want two!”

Spring Grove Soda Pop Fan
Drew, a member of the Also Ingebretsen’s  Kaffe Bar staff, gives his stamp of approval to the cream soda.

Bob and Dawn Hansen pride themselves on the quality of their ingredients and on the true taste of the syrups used to flavor the soda. Bob suggests that to make the most of your Spring Grove Soda, wait a minute before taking a sip. He says, “Pop the top. See that little cloud. Smell that.” That little cloud will give you the fragrance of the syrup and gives you a preview of just how good the flavor will be.

Sodas are definitely a family drink, but Spring Grove Soda Pop also plays nicely with more adult ingredients. Bob admits that he’d be hard pressed to drink the Lemon Sour straight, though many customers do. He prefers to mix his with a bit of whiskey at the end of the day. Another relaxing combination is the Black Cherry Soda Pop with Captain Morgan Spiced Rum for an easy cocktail.

So, enjoy a Spring Grove Soda Pop at the Kaffe Bar now, then buy one to take home and enjoy later. Hoist your drink high and say Mange Tusen Takk to the Hansens for keeping a tasty tradition alive.

– Carstens Smith

The Care and Feeding of Hardanger and Other Hand Needlework

It’s worth the time to care and preserve your Hardanger lace.

It’s June, and for a lot of people, that means cleaning everything, including linens and any needlework items that see regular use (doilies, table runners, table cloths, etc.).  Cleaning these items regularly is a good idea. But how to do it safely?  The best and safest way is by hand washing.  One of the most heartbreaking things I see as a Hardanger instructor is needlework damaged by not being cared for properly.  The single most common reason that I’ve encountered for pieces needing repair is that someone tried to machine wash them.  For as sturdy as Hardanger embroidery really is, it is generally not made to withstand the agitation of a washing machine, even on the hand wash cycle, or in a lingerie bag.  Hand washing these pieces isn’t time consuming or difficult, and will keep them looking good for a long time.

The following steps will see your treasured hand worked pieces looking good for a very long time.

  1. Inspect the piece for any stains or damage.  Most stains can be pre-treated with a little liquid soap. (I like the original Dawn dish washing soap for anything that is or may be greasy, but Ivory is good too.)  A few drops rubbed gently into the spots or stain is usually enough to get it out.  Any damage should be fixed prior to washing if at all possible. *
  2. Run a basin of lukewarm water. Add a small amount of soap, and mix it into the water.  A clean sink works well for most smaller pieces; you might want to use a laundry tub or bathtub for larger pieces like curtains or table toppers.  It’s best to single layer your item(s), but in a pinch several smaller pieces can share a basin or a long one can be accordion-folded.
  3. Let soak without agitation.  Really – just let it soak for a while.  Half an hour or 45 minutes is usually enough.  If an item is very soiled, you can swish it around or rub it gently, but be careful – too much abrasion can damage the embroidery threads.
  4. After your item has soaked, lift it gently out of the basin while you run fresh, cool water.  Swish it gently to rinse, and then remove.  DO NOT wring or twist out the water!  That will create wrinkles that will be nearly impossible to remove.  Instead, lay it between layers of bath towels and squeeze the water out.  It’s actually fine to step gently on most items, but pressing firmly with your hands also works.  Unwrap it from the towels and lay it somewhere flat to dry, turning over once or twice if you can to ensure thorough drying.
  5. Once your item is dry, or even better, not quite dry, you’ll want to iron it to get out any wrinkles and restore its crispness.  You’ll want your iron to be quite hot – usually the cotton setting works well – and to be able to produce steam.  Lay your piece face down on at least two layers of terrycloth towels, and press from the back only.  A spritz of water or shot of steam will help get out any stubborn wrinkles.  Be sure to check the front side as you iron – it’s done when the wrinkles are gone and the embroidery looks like it has just been laid on the surface.  It should look quite raised.  Allow to air dry thoroughly, and display proudly!


This may seem like a lot of work, but it’s really a very simple procedure.  You can even ignore it for most of the process, so it works well for layering with other tasks.  In the end, a little time and care will go a very long way to keeping your textile treasures in good shape for years to come.

*  If you should notice any stitching becoming loose, or worse, coming off the edges of a piece, to should be looked at by someone who knows how to work Hardanger and feels comfortable repairing it.  While it can be time consuming and rather painstaking work, it can be done by any relatively competent and fearless stitcher who has done Hardanger work.

Laurie Olson Williams

– Laurie Olson Williams

Laurie teaches Hardanger and other needlework, knitting, and spinning classes at Ingebretsen’s. She has a lifelong love of all things fiber and is the the “Laurie” behind Heirlooms by Laurie.


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 


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.


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






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)

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.

ultima thule red wine glass
Ultima Thule red wine glass

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: