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March 17, 2008

There is only one "17th" worthy to be celebrated

So, during breakfast this morning, my impressionable young son asked me a question that set my blood to boiling. He asked, "Hey Dad? Why don't the Norwegians have a day like St. Patrick's Day?"

I answered, "They do son! Don't you remember celebrating Syttende Mai last year? We had some lefse, and we joined in on a Hanson Pogrom. Don't you remember?"

"No," he said, "Do you like the green shirt I am wearing?"

luckycharms.jpg
The height of Irish culture?

Egads people! Why do we go out of our way to celebrate this tiny little island's snake removal/pest control technician (St. Patrick) when we should be celebrating the richer culture of the proud Norwegian people? Let's look at some of the facts.

Fact: The Vikings dominated Ireland from about 800 AD to about 1100 AD. Heck, they didn't just dominate, they ruled with an iron fist.

Fact: The Vikings had a lot of children whilst in Ireland. As a result, the Vikings are a big reason the Irish culture is what it is today. According to Brian Sykes in the book Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland, more than 30% of the Irish gene pool comes from the Vikings.

Based on my math, that means Norway has an awesome culture sitting at 130%, while the Irish culture is knocked down to only 70% awesome. Chalk one up for Norway!

Fact: St. Patrick's Day is a day of massive drinking (a big cause of alcoholism), dieing rivers green (an environmental nightmare), and listening to bag pipes (my ears are still bleeding). Seriously?

Syttende Mai is a day of parades, ice cream, lefse, and ridding the country side of those pesky Hansons. Ding ding! Norway wins again!

Fact: The official symbol of St. Patrick's Day is the shamrock, or a three leaf clover. Hmmm ... where have I seen that before. Oh yeah! It is that weed that infests my yard every spring and kills all my grass!

The Norwegian equivalent? None! Our symbols are usually a little more regal in nature than a common weed enjoyed by cows. Norway wins again!

Fact: St. Patrick's Day is celebrated once a year. Ha! We celebrate Norse heritage every Wednesday (Odin's day), Thursday (Thor's day) and Friday (Frigga's day). Did someone say "Norway rules?" No? Well I'm saying it now!

Fact: Norway is a world leader in two-syllable band names. Ever heard of "A-Ha?" I think it is safe to say without A-Ha there would be no U2. Norway wins again.

Let me cut to the chase. As a Norwegian American I have long wondered why the Irish are given such wide latitude to flaunt their suspect culture, especially in Minnesota. I think I have demonstrated why as Minnesotans, with our rich Norwegian culture, it is our responsibility to set the record straight.

People, there is only one "17th" worth celebrating, and that is Syttende Mai. I think we all know what to do this May. In fact, I think we should get a head start: so get out those lefse pans, start peeling those potatoes, and let's give the world a celebration worth remembering!

Ja, vi elsker dette landet!

(For more of my musings on St. Patrick's Day please see my history of the Battle of Clontarf.)

Posted by snackeru at March 17, 2008 5:10 AM

Comments

There's only one flaw Shane (well two but the A'ha-U2 comparison doesn't deserve mention):

Lefse.

Lefse is vile and disgusting and any culture that embraces lefse instead of trying to deny that it even existed has some serious psychological issues.

A culture's signature food item should be pleasant to the palate, provide a minimum of nutrition, and cause people to want to further their knowledge of that culture's people and its traditions.

Lefse makes people want to throw up.

As along as Lefse is a key component of Norwegian festivities your heritage will be relegated to the sidelines of American holidays and celebrations.

Posted by: Freealonzo at March 17, 2008 9:43 AM

Sacrilege! I think we'll be adding the surname "Carlson" to our list of names for the annual Syttende Mai pogrom!

The only way to repent and avert the terror your family will feel on May 17th is to hang a bag of lefse outside your door. That will prove your loyalty to your Norwegian overlords and give them a tasty snack while they seek out their prey.

You have been warned!

Posted by: Shane at March 17, 2008 10:05 AM

Lefse? Isn't that just a tortilla with butter and sugar on it? I love tortillas!

Bring on the corned beef!

Posted by: Tim at March 17, 2008 10:12 AM

A tortilla?!?!?!

The ignorance of the Irish is simply stunning. You would think that a delicacy based on the potato would be something they would admire, but apparently not.

Then again, all they ever do with potatoes is mash them. No real creativity there.

Norway wins again!

Posted by: Shane at March 17, 2008 10:23 AM

A potato delicacy is cheesy potatoes, not some cheap tortilla wannabe.

Oh, and many Norwegians have a German heritage. So much for your 130% theory.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at March 17, 2008 10:40 AM

Having a foot firmly in both the Irish and Norwegian camps, I must input some sanity here.

When talking about food, neither the Irish NOR Norwegians have anything to brag about.

Norwegians - as long as it is white, we'll eat it.
Irish - We'll eat anything as long as it is salty and we have beer.

FYI - Ireland did not even have any cities until the Vikings showed up.

Posted by: DouglasG at March 17, 2008 12:06 PM

Now I see why Madness Stop The hates this blog so much. What a load of crap!

The Viking domination of Ireland ended in 1014, well before the 1100s.

In regards to A-Ha, are they still big enough to be on a Norwegian casino/county fair tour? When will the A-Ha 3D movie be coming out?

In addition, there is no comparison between the gift from God that is Guinness and lefse, one of the most over-rated culinary dishes of all time. A true environmental catastrophe is lutefisk, which all you Norwegians will have to answer for while in Purgatory.

St. Patrick would totally kick St. Olaf’s ass. In other words, our patron saint is better than your patron saint!

Finally, I don’t object to Syttende Mai. It is the one day when I, as a Swedsh-American, remember that one time we let the little Norwegians have their own country. What is the median age at a typical Syttende Mai celebration? 80?

Erin Go Bragh!

Posted by: Curt Hanson at March 17, 2008 12:07 PM

Since I am neither Norwegian nor Irish, where's the German Heritage Day? Or how about Polish?

Where would our sports industry be without bratwurst or kielbasa to sell?

And how do I this "Syttende Mai" anyway? That looks even more ridiculous than Mientkiewicz or Pierzynski.

Posted by: Snyder at March 17, 2008 12:23 PM

"Syttende Mai" is a Norwegian celebration of sweaters, literally translated it is "Sweater Mine". They all get together, wear matching sweaters and dorky hats, hold hands and sing about how wonderful their sweaters are. Afterwards they make crafts with egg cartons.

It goes back to the days when fashion actually came to Norway and people had fights over who got to wear the different sweaters. There were riots in the streets; well more like people stomping their feet to show their anger. There are even some legends of finger pointing that happened. Everyone was claiming the nice sweaters were theirs. Now, all sweaters are the same and the simpletons are happy.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at March 17, 2008 1:01 PM

"Sweater Mine" My God Cheesehead you are on a roll.

The only thing you missed is I think the "hipper" Norwegians sing Sufjan Stevens songs about sweaters while the elders still sing sweater songs from the old country.

Posted by: Freealonzo at March 17, 2008 1:30 PM

Doesn't Brian Adams have Norwegian roots? Yeah, live that one down.

Posted by: Tim at March 17, 2008 1:56 PM

Lies and untruths! This is incredible. Here I am, trying to get the facts out, and I am being attacked!

While Norwegians do have very beautiful sweaters, and while I'm sure they do enjoy Sufjan Stevens, Syttende Mai doesn't even remotely sound like "Sweater Mine." For you simpletons out there, it means "17th of May" ... and I'm not even going to tell you how to pronounce it since it gives me great pleasure to hear you butcher it as you try to speak the mother tongue.

As for lefse, Norwegians obviously have a more refined pallete and are better able to enjoy the finer things in life.

A-ha's video for "Take on Me" is so ground-breaking and earth shattering, U2 felt the only way to top it was to come out with a 3D movie ... needless to say they failed.

One more thing, St. Olaf was a conquering king that united Norway under his awesome might. St. Patrick got rid of some snakes. I think we all know whose ass would get kicked.

Posted by: Shane at March 17, 2008 2:10 PM

One more thing, Brian Adams is English and Maltese.

More lies from the Irish! And one more name added to the pogrom list ...

Let's see: Hanson, Carlson, Ryan, Recknagel ... anyone else?

Posted by: Shane at March 17, 2008 2:12 PM

Don't make us Germans angry...

You wouldn't like us when we're angry

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at March 17, 2008 2:17 PM

Don't make us Germans angry... You wouldn't like us when we're angry

Yea, just ask 6 million dead Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals; 20 million dead Russians; hundreds of thousands of assorted dead English, Poles, Czechs, French, Americans; and Anne Frank.

Posted by: Freealonzo at March 17, 2008 2:30 PM

Shane,
Why are you adding my name to a prom list anyway? You planning on taking me out for dinner and dancing and hoping to get lucky?

If that's the case, you'd best get me a limo.

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at March 17, 2008 2:42 PM

I don't really have anything to say about the Syttende Mai vs. St. Patrick's Day controversy. I just want to say I'm glad to see someone acknowledging A-ha's "Take On Me" as the masterpiece of music video creation that it is.

Posted by: ldfs at March 17, 2008 3:52 PM

Something about this line sounds like a bad PSA:

"St. Patrick's Day is a day of massive drinking (a big cause of alcoholism)"

I don't think ONE day of drinking causes a person to be an alcoholic. But i guess i haven't looked up the definition or causes of alcoholism for a while.

If you're going with the drinking thing, go with the drunk driving or all the ugly kids born in December.

Posted by: haasertime at March 17, 2008 4:05 PM

Fine, Shane, I just wanted to be respectful of your Norwegian heritage by not mangling the name of what is obviously an important cultural event for you.

But if you don't want to teach me how to pronounce "Syttende Mai" then I'm not going to teach you how to pronounce Swarzak when he gets called up in September.

Posted by: Snyder at March 17, 2008 5:35 PM

I happen to be mainly Swedish and German - I odd combination, I know, for a guy from the Midwest.

Germans, by the way, are very nice people exept for those occasional bouts of fascism and grandiose plans for world-domination. Other than that, we're lots of laughs.

Jeff T.

Posted by: Jeff T. at March 17, 2008 9:47 PM

Bah. I'm of German descent. We don't believe in such tomfoolery. Besides the only 17th that matters is January 17th.

Posted by: SBG at March 18, 2008 6:27 AM

SBG - You really like Dwayne Wade that much you celebrate his birthday?

Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at March 18, 2008 9:35 AM

I agree with SBG. January 17th trumps everything. I stand corrected.

Posted by: Shane at March 18, 2008 2:52 PM

So when can we do some serious trash talking with Zoomx and the big Gopher-Husky hockey tilt this coming Thursday?

Surely there could be another bet in there.

Posted by: Freealonzo at March 19, 2008 10:03 AM

It just wouldn't be fair to you to take advantage of your Maroon colored glasses.

The Huskies are starting to peak at exactly the right time. Jake Weslosky is looking solid in the goal. We have 3 outstanding scorers in Nodl, Lasch, and Roe (that is 3 more than the Gophers have) and we did not play the equivalent of 5 games last weekend.

However, Kangas has been standing on his head in goal for your boys the past few weeks to keep you in the games. And you do have the "Gipper" effect going on with Pohl's injury. Also, the Huskies are a lock for the NCAA's and the Gophers are still a bit on the fence.

Either way, I think it should be a close, exciting game. Unfortunately for both teams, the WCHA champion has never emerged from the play-in game.

Posted by: zooomx at March 20, 2008 8:17 AM

It's kinda cute, the SCSU Husky fans. They're excited that they are still playing hockey in March. They tout their goals scorers, pin hopes on their goalie. Only to... well let's not talk about it, wouldn't be polite.

Posted by: Freealonzo at March 20, 2008 1:06 PM

Why are people talking about hockey when March Madness has begun?

Posted by: Snyder at March 20, 2008 2:26 PM

March Madness is hockey. What are you talking about Snyder?

Seriously though, I would guess that most people who follow the NCAA Mens BB tourney really don't watch much basketball throughout the regular season.

Hockey fans are different. I would say most college hockey fans follow their favorite team all season. Many, like myself, follow the other teams in the conference as well.

Posted by: zooomx at March 20, 2008 4:05 PM

I would guess most people that follow March Madness (which I'm pretty sure is trademarked for the basketball tournament, by the way) do so because they have a bracket or four in a pool somewhere. :-)

I'm a Gopher men's BB season ticket holder, so I do actually watch a fair amount during the regular season, at least what Comcast allows me to watch when the game doesn't take place at The Barn, anyway.

Just renewed my football tickets yesterday, too. Only one more season to stick out in the Dome before we go back to campus! Hooray!

Posted by: Snyder at March 20, 2008 6:00 PM

well... good thing I didn't take that bet.

Nice game Gophs, looks like there will be 2 if not 3 Minnesota teams in the NCAA's

Posted by: zooomx at March 20, 2008 9:49 PM

Shane, I just returned from a conference in New Orleans. Another conference occurring in the Big Easy simultaneous to mine was for corrosion engineers. One night, we were out and there were a couple of loud guys from that conference dancing with anyone that moved.

One turned to our group and said, "We're from Norway! We're Vikings! We take and do what we want!" Then, he put his hands up to the top of his head and kept pulling them up to signal his horns. Pretty hilarious stuff.

Posted by: Shane at March 22, 2008 10:15 AM

Shane, I just returned from a conference in New Orleans. Another conference occurring in the Big Easy simultaneous to mine was for corrosion engineers. One night, we were out and there were a couple of loud guys from that conference dancing with anyone that moved.

One turned to our group and said, "We're from Norway! We're Vikings! We take and do what we want!" Then, he put his hands up to the top of his head and kept pulling them up to signal his horns. Pretty hilarious stuff.

Posted by: Will Young at March 22, 2008 10:15 AM

Funny stuff! I had never heard of Syttende Mai until this past Monday, at an event honoring a Russian no less. Anyway, my wife and I will be at the Norwegian Seamen's Church of Houston tomorrow. Between the oil business and shipping, there are a lot of Norwegians in Houston - not Norwegian-Americans but the real deal.

Happy Syttende Mai everyone!

Posted by: Byron at May 16, 2008 1:03 PM

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