Both Papa and I have Norwegian ancestors. He jokes that I’m more Norwegian than he is because he has 1/8 Irish blood. Our families both have second, third, or fourth-generation ancestors that came from Norway. We have a wide variety coming from Oppland, Hedmark, Telemark, and Rogaland. Papa’s family mostly came from the Voss and Flekkefjord areas.
We are both very proud of our heritage.
I grew up saying the Norwegian Table prayer at holiday gatherings (my pronunciation is atrocious since I learned by listening to my relatives – not learning the language!). The prayer is:
I Jesu Navn
gaar vil til Bords
at spise og drikke
paa ditt Ord
dig Gud til Ære, os til Gavn
saa faar vi Mad
I Jesu Navn.
which basically is translated as “In Jesus’ name we sit by the table to eat and drink at your word. By humbly honoring you God, we get food in Jesus’ name.” (note: what is written above is old Norwegian – but that’s what our ancestors came over knowing).
Once Grandpa N found out someone else in the family knew the prayer, he implemented it at the in-law family holiday gatherings. Sadly, that tradition ended when he passed away in 2010 (did I mention my pronunciation is horrible? … and Grandma doesn’t know it as well as Grandpa did).
I can remember having Christmas celebrations at the family farm and my Aunt Mag playing the off-key piano (it never got tuned) and singing “I Am So Glad Each Christmas Eve” in English and Norwegian.
We love lefse – which is a soft potato flatbread. My family grew up on kumla – potato dumplings boiled in ham broth and served with the ham; Papa’s family called it kump and they stuffed pan-fried salt pork in the center of the dumplings and just boiled in water. Papa and I avoid lutefisk (lye-soaked fish) at all costs but both like Norwegian meatballs. Ok, in all honesty, we’re traitors – we think Swedish meatballs are better. When my aunt joined our family in the mid-80’s she brought along other types of flatbread, and Kransekake – a Norwegian wedding cake made with almonds.
She stopped making them years ago, but I’ve picked up the tradition and made several for weddings and anniversaries. We also love making (and eating) kringla or kringle.