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Norwegian-Americans celebrate Syttende Mai

By Staff | May 23, 2014

Judy Jelsing (front) surveys the offerings with Jean Anderson at the Sons of Norway’s Syttende Mai celebration at North Star Community Credit Union in Rugby on May 16. Tim Chapman/PCT

Eyes grew wide with each visitor as they made their way toward the table of freshly-baked Norwegian classics at North Star Community Credit Union in Rugby on May 16.

Because Syttende Mai (17th of May) fell on a Saturday this year, the Sons of Norway hosted their celebration of Norway’s bicentennial and constitution day early. Groups of people steadily walked through during the afternoon and enjoyed Scandanavian goodies like lefse, fatigmand, rosettes, rmmegrt, sandbakkelsers and flatbread.

Sons of Norway Odin Lodge (Rugby) president Sharon Anderson was pleased with the healthy turnout and reflected on what led her to embrace her Norwegian heritage.

“It’s the traditions that my mother’s parents brought from Norway,” Anderson said. “We want to keep that alive; qualities like hardworking, honest ethics and friendliness. And with all that came the food!”

Ida Vrem, of Rugby, was possibly the only person in attendance who was born in Norway. Her family moved from Flor, Norway, to America when she was three years old and settled near relatives around Overly. Vrem has visited Norway four times.

“It’s nice over there,” she said. “There’s lots of hills and narrow roads. My family had some lake property.”

Sons of Norway member Mark Nelson enjoyed sharing his thoughts on his Norwegian heritage and why his ancestors are known to be so friendly.

“It probably goes all the way back, because the aristocracy in Norway never got much traction,” Nelson said. “It never went through the hundreds of year of slavery. It’s hard to explain, but Norwegians just like each other.”

That point was clear at the Syttende Mai gathering as people from around the Rugby area smiled and shared stories throughout the afternoon.

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