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Apparently, one of the popular pastimes in Scandinavia these days involves gathering around the television to watch Americans stumble through a cultural obstacle course as they get in touch with their Norwegian heritage.
Producers of Alt for Norge (or “The Great Norway Adventure,” as it’s called in the States) recruit American contestants for the show who are of Norwegian descent but who have never previously visited their ancestral homeland. The winners get a monetary reward and an in-person meeting with their “lost” Norwegian relatives.
Two of those former contestants who now have a little farm in the Olympia area – Alf and Lulie Herigstad — are coming to Whidbey Island again to tell us all about their adventures! (They did their first program at a Daughters of Norway meeting earlier this year). Their venue on this 2nd visit will be the Nordic Hall, home of the Whidbey Island Nordic Lodge.
The program will begin at approximately 10:30am, following a Lodge business meeting that will begin at 10:00am. The program is open to all who are interested in coming. If you missed their first program, be sure to take advantage of this 2nd opportunity!
If you want to know a little more about the Alt for Norge TV program (now in Season 5) before coming to listen to Alf and Lulie, and get an idea of what they went through, several whole episodes of the series are available on YouTube. Just type in “Alt for Norge” in the YouTube search bar.
The choirs include 45 singers – 20 teenage girls and 25 boy sopranos and altos and will be accompanied by organist Ivan Sarajishvili. The concert is open to the public with no admission charge, but a free-will offering will be taken. The Boys Choir is directed by the cathedral Cantor, Oddgeir Kjetilstad. His wife, Tuva Ramlo Ystad, conducts the Girls Choir. The choirs perform regularly at the Stavanger Cathedral (Domkirke) for Sunday services, concerts, and other special occasions. This is the fourth tour of the choirs to the Western United States and Canada since 1994.
Ivan Sarajishvili, organist and doctoral candidate at Eastman, was born in Tbilisi, Georgia on August 5, 1972 to a family deeply rooted in Georgian musical tradition. He started playing piano at the age of seven. After acquiring a university degree in International Law in 1994 (State University, Tbilisi), he was admitted to the Sacred Music Department of the State Academy of Music in Oslo, Norway. He also received an EU scholarship for historical performance studies at Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, graduated with bachelor in Sacred Music in 2000, Master in Sacred Music in 2002 (Oslo) and was awarded Post Master Soloist Diploma in 2004 (Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen). He is currently the Music Director and Cathedral Organist at Stavanger Cathedral, Norway. Having sat on the program board of Norwegian Organ Festival since 2007, he also acts as Artistic director of the Summer Festival at Stavanger Cathedral.
The program focus will be on Norwegian music, new and old. A reception will follow. All are welcome. A freewill offering will be appreciated.
The performance will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church, 6215 196th St. SW, Lynnwood, WA 98036. For more information call 425-778-2159 or email www.trinitylutheranchurch.com. The choir will also be performing at the Silverdale Lutheran Church on October 6th at 7:30 pm. The Silverdale church is located at 11701 Ridgepoint Drive NW.
Kristen Griffin, Manager of the Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve here on Whidbey Island, will be the guest speaker at the September 2015 general membership meeting of the Nordic Lodge on Saturday, September 19th. Her program, titled “Ebey’s Forever” will touch on what makes Ebey’s Reserve such an important and cherished place. She attributes her lifelong passion for heritage to her grandparents, including her mother’s parents who immigrated to Seattle from Norway in the 1920s.
Kristen has been the Reserve Manager since February 2014 and has 25 years of historic preservation and cultural resource experience, including, most recently, 7 years as the Historic Preservation Officer for the City of Spokane and Spokane County. Prior to that, she worked for a variety of National Park Service units in Alaska and lived on Baranof Island. She was the historian at Sitka National Park as well as the historian and archaeologist for Denali National Park in Alaska.
The Lodge’s Fritz Cornell Nordic Hall is located within the Reserve’s Boundaries.
The meeting opens at approximately 10am. The program itself will begin somewhere between 10:15 and 10:30 a.m.
Our Whidbey Island Nordic Lodge will be having its Midsommarfest on Saturday June 20th from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. The Northwest Language Academy (NWLA) Midsommarfest is on Saturday June 13th in Langley. The Skandia Folkdance Society Midsommarfest is being held at St. Edward State Park in Kenmore, Washington on Saturday June 28th.
For details about these Midsommarfest activities, visit our Programs & Activities webpage where more information and website links may be found.
Midsommarfest is considered to be the most important holiday of the year in Sweden. It is celebrated with the raising of the Maypole, the majstång, along with a feast of traditional food (pickled herring, boiled potatoes and sour cream, strawberries & brannvin) –music, folk dancing, games and camaraderie. Houses are often decorated with birch twigs. Many people dress in traditional folk costumes. In Norway and Denmark, Midsummer’s Eve is celebrated with large bonfires and processions in the evening. In Norway, Midsummer’s Eve is also called Jonsok.
In ancient times, midsommar was considered to be one of the key times of the year when the power of magic was strongest. It was thought to be a good time to perform rituals, particularly those which could predict the future. One tradition is that of young people picking bouquets of 7-9 different flowers which they would place under their pillow in the hopes of dreaming about their future spouse. Midsommar was also linked to an ancient fertility festival, as conception at this time would lead to a birth in March, traditionally regarded as a good time for children to be born.
In 2014, Norway fared well in the rankings for the Global Gender Gap Report as determined by the World Economic Forum in Geneva, taking third place out of 142 countries. Scoring is based on five categories: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment. In the category of educational attainment, Norwegian females were rated as having total equality at primary, secondary and tertiary education levels. Earned income, literacy and life expectancy rates were also deemed equal to that of men or better.
Norway’s high ranking is a result of grassroots campaigns, government initiatives and quota systems. In 1978, Eva Kolstad was appointed the world’s first Gender Equality Ombud in Norway, whose responsibility was to work toward equality between women and men, specifically in regard to hiring.
Another tactic was to increase the presence of women in positions of power by making it a requirement as of 2006 for all publicly-held companies to have a minimum of 40% women on their board of directors, or face closure. State-owned firms were already required to have at least 45% female board representation. Norwegian equality minister at the time, Karita Bekkemellem, said that “More than half of the people who have a business education today are women. It is wrong for companies not to use them. They should be represented.” She added that she didn’t want to wait 20 or 30 years for society to catchup. Currently state panels, committees/and boards have only 38 percent female representation. Norway’s largest company, Statoil, Meets the 40% requirement. Six European countries have followed Norway’s example and the European Union’s parliament plans to require a 40% quota by 2020.
This article was taken from the Sons of Norway Newsletter Service. Learn more about Sons of Norway by visiting them on the web at www.sonsofnorway.com.