OK, campers! I’m finally caught up on critiques (for the moment) and wanted to take the time to start posting on my very first Syttende Mai celebration!


Syttende Mai Spirit

Syttende Mai Spirit

Just as a reminder to the uninitiated, Syttende Mai celebrates the signing of Norway’s constitution in 1814. If we have to stretch a bit, I’d compare it to our own 4th of July in the US, but bear in mind that Syttende Mai is pretty much celebrated in a non-military fashion.

And yes – in case you’re looking at the picture really closely, they do have the flags propped up in a bunch of wine corks. Now these are folks after my own heart!

So anyhoos – I managed to get a hold of the Dallas group (called the Viking Chapter  – what else??) of the Norwegian Society of Texas. And these are, like, the nicest people alive. So, the Hubby and I cruised down to Ferris, Texas, to John and Mari-Anne Moore’s 73-acre place for an afternoon of Viking-ness.

Folks, we got unlucky in that we got rained on in almost Biblical proportions.

But I got darned lucky (a highly technical Texas term) because I really did meet the nicest people on the planet.

Over the next few days, I’ll be posting some pics and even some audio (yep, you read it right!) from our celebration.

Hubby and I really took the group’s motto to heart – Take a Liking to a Viking, and given such great folks, how could you not????

So here we go!

Suzie and Lloyd, two of the founding members of the Viking Chapter!

Suzie and Lloyd, two of the founding members of the Viking Chapter!

Just so you know, the Viking Chapter was founded in 1975, and Suzie and Lloyd were two of the original crew! Now, if that’s not enough….. in 1976 Lloyd got the idea that he wanted to build his own longship.

So he did….

Lloyd and the Ormen Lange II

Lloyd and the Ormen Lange II

Now it was just my luck that it was raining like something upstairs had sprung a leak (in fact, much more and we were going to need that longship!) so I didn’t get to see the sails and the shields and its wicked cool dragon head.

But anyhoos, the Ormen Lange II is named for the original Ormen Lange  , which means “Long Serpent” and was one of the most famous longships ever built. Now Lloyd tells me that it took about a dozen people a week and a half to build the ship, mainly because they had a parade deadline. To me, this is pretty impressive because I wouldn’t even be able to find my hammer in that length of time.

So Lloyd and crew built the Ormen Lange II in 1976, and since then, it’s sailed in the annual parade of the State Fair of Texas, as well as WorldFest in Addison, and parades around the Lone Star State.

It’s now maintained by John and Mari-Anne – who look after it with all the TLC you would expect from Vikings towards a beloved ship.

Suzanna Juliussen (current president of the Viking Chapter) shot me a quick note of some info I didn’t know. Lloyd is wearing his Texas bunad. Now, the bunad is a traditional Norwegian folk costume, only there’s one little problem about wearing it in Texas in May.

It’s made of wool – yup, in the Lone Star State, where it’s so hot the devil feels right at home – our friends at Syttende Mai would end up wearing wool. So our friend Lloyd came up with a unique solution to that, too, by making a Texas bunad.

See, Lloyd and Susie used to be in the chapter’s dance group (called the Leikering). And since it’s pretty hard to dance in wool (without passing out) they came up with the Texas bunad. And get this – the appearance of the bunad varies by region, so Lloyd created one for the Texas region. Not only is it a whole lot cooler, but it’s decorated in some traditional Texas flora, like the mockingbird tail,  Texas star, rosemaling, etc.

In case you haven’t figured out, I think that Lloyd is the man. He’s the guy to be shipwrecked with, whether we’re talking a Lord of the Flies kind of arrangement, Gilligan’s Island, or like Tom Hanks in Castaway. Lloyd would have a boat built (unlike the Professor in Gilligan), – we have proof!

OK – so anyhoos, this is the first of, oh, I don’t know how many posts. But we haven’t covered the eats yet, or the new little grand-Viking, or Dinah (who told me how to ask someone if they can speak Norse), or Steve Ogden’s baritone voice that you wouldn’t believe!

Oh – and just so you know, I bought my very first Norwegian flag too. And I learned to say “Uff Da!”

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!