Daughters of Norway celebrate Christmas — after Christmas

CHIMACUM — For centuries, it was a tradition in rural northern European communities — when younger children came of age, they left home to cross the ocean and make a new life for themselves.

Starting over in a new land, they married and created families of their own, handing down holiday traditions they grew up with.

On Sunday, women whose ancestors came from Scandinavia — Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland — celebrated Christmas like their parents and grandparents did. Sponsored by the local Daughters of Norway, the celebration, called Yulefest, was a way of connecting with traditions of the past.

Delayed a week because of weather, the celebration was held at the Tri-Area Community Center and included singing, dancing and traditional holiday food.

The first order of business: decorating the tree with red and white felt hearts and flags of Norway and Sweden.

Then Rod and Elsa Johnson of Port Angeles led off the dancing around the tree, with Alison Hedley, Diane Clements and George Yount providing music.

Members and guests, which included the Johnsons’ granddaughter, Vanessa Bentley, also joined in singing a Christmas song in Danish and danced the “Tapende Hone,” or “Crested Hen.”

The Yulefest was followed by refreshments — krumkake, lefse and other traditional pastries, open-faced sandwiches and salads.

At the business meeting, conducted by Barbara English, president, members sang “America the Beautiful,” and “Ja, vi elsker dette landet,” (“Yes, we love this land of ours.”)

Past president Sonja Schoenleber initiated three new members: Judy King, Bonnie Spardahl and Virginia Parkhurst.

King, whose mother was of Norwegian descent, said she grew up in a big family in North Dakota.

Spardahl said both her parents emigrated from Norway when they were 18, leaving from different ports for different destinations, but ending up in Seattle, where they met.

Parkhurst said that when she heard the Daughters of Norway, she did some research and discovered her mother was of Norwegian descent.

“I felt like a sister all along,” Parkhurst said after she was initiated into the group.

Five new members joined in 2008, bringing the total membership to 78, according to Jean Kaldahl, a charter member and organizer.

The Thea Foss Daughters of Norway is open to women of Nordic descent, age 13 and over, who are interested in staying in touch with their heritage and preserving and promoting Scandinavian culture.

The group meets on the third Sunday of each month at 1 p.m. at the Tri-Area Community Center, 10 West Valley Road, Chimacum. Meetings are open to the public. The chapter also has a book club, a writing group and a movie night.

For more information, phone 360-379-1802.

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Jennifer Jackson can be reached at jjackson@olypen.com.

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