Saturday, November 25, 2000

November 2000


As I’m writing this the presidential elections are up in the air, recount in Florida and we have no idea how many people voted for Buchanan when they thought they were voting for Gore and so on and so on. To a recent immigrant in this country and comparing the system to the Icelandic system this does not reflect democracy and is outdated. Of course, the popular vote should decide who gets to be the president. If the president is elected by the winning states but against the popular vote, how is that democracy? Two parties, two choices, how is that a good system? This is my opinion but I’m using up space in the newsletter so I won’t get too political.

What is up with our organization and how are we doing? Things are up in the air in a good way. We had a great general meeting in a nice Mexican restaurant with 19 people attending. Then we decorated the Christmas tree at the Museum of Science and Industry. The tree looks spectacular this year and has a great location – in the center of the museum. This year we had a crowd of 12 members and 8 children helping with the tree. Most of us went out for “Linner” (lunch and dinner) afterwards to a Lebanese restaurant. This just goes to show how multicultural and international we are. In this newsletter you’ll have lots of information, for example, who are serving on the new board, on the Þorrablót, the income statement, and much more. All this will make you realize that we are in good shape and have a strong base to become a great association for Icelanders in Chicago, friends of Iceland, and the people of Icelandic heritage. So I ask you to please pay your membership fee ASAP, participate in all of our activities, and help us build a name for Iceland in Chicago.

Thank you in advance.

Einar Steinsson, President



I should probably start out by introducing myself since I will be editing your newsletter. My name is G. Steinar Gudmundsson and have lived in the Chicago area for the past 18 months. I am a physician at the Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood where I practice cardiology. Born and raised in Reykjavik, I moved to the States spring of 1996 with my family.

As you notice I have made a few changes to the newsletter. First, an adjective has been added to its name. It is a quotation from Jónas Hallgrímsson´s poem “Ísland” which begins with “Ísland, farsælda frón og hagsælda hrímhvíta móðir” or Iceland, successful Iceland and prosperous rime white mother. The poem is written in early 19th century where the poet longs after the old prosperous Iceland and criticizes the 19th century Iceland under Danish rule. Many find it hard to believe there is a nation of only 300.000 people with its own history, language and culture. The quotation reminds us, the people of Icelandic heritage what we have in common.

The layout of the letter is different and I hope the changes will only make it more enjoyable to you. The content is still the same announcements and reports from the Association. I also will try to discuss or point out news or interesting things I see in the media regarding Iceland or Scandinavia. In this issue I mention two articles from the NY Times. The first one is about Icelandic rock music scene and the latter tells us about a new home of the American-Scandinavian Foundation in NY. It clearly has its Scandinavian design and seems like a place that could be interesting to visit, that is if you like Scandinavian atmosphere.

Farsæla Frón - The Icelandic Association of Chicago’s Newsletter. Editor: G. Steinar Guðmundsson, E-mail: Associate editor: Katrin Heidar.

Website: Correspondence: The Icelandic Association of Chicago, Einar Steinsson, president 2212 N Rockwell St. Chicago, IL 60647-3004. Tel. 773-489-4621


1. Annual Finance Report was reviewed and approved. We had an income margin of $763.33 this fiscal year. No bills are due at this time.

2. New board consists of:

President: Einar Steinsson
Vice Presidents:
Undine Johnson,
Stella Solis,
Binna Porter,
Joanne Shaw
Treasurer: Sonja Johnson
Editor: G. Steinar Guðmundsson
Secretary: Sóley Runólfsdóttir
Auditor: Miguel Solis

3. Unchanged membership fee: Individuals/Students $15, family $25

4. Discussion on Science Museum’s Christmas tree display, Þorrablót and the need for a logo for the association.

5. Everyone had a good time!


The Christmas tree went up November 5th at the Museum of Science and Industry. Never was a more beautiful tree seen before. Everybody had fun putting it up. The exhibit opens on November 21st and will run until January 7.


One of the most Icelandic of all Icelandic traditions is the celebration of Þorri (Þorrablót). Þorri was the fourth month of winter according to the old calendar. It begins on a Friday the 13th week of winter, usually January 19-25. A common Icelandic expression is to “endure the Þorri” which means to endure difficulties and hardship.

We will celebrate the Þorri this winter as the winters before. The date has been set for March 3rd 2001. We are currently looking for a musician to set the atmosphere. Details regarding time and place will be announced at a later date.


On October 31, Neil Strauss reviews Icelandic rock scene in the NY Times’ arts abroad column. The review is based on a visit to the homeland where he interviews Icelandic music people and goes to concerts. He seems to have done his homework since the article gives a fair description of the Icelandic music industry and its history. As before there seem to be many new things going on and as usual everyone dreams of fame and fortune.

At the present time, the most popular new band in the country is SigurRós (Victory Rose), an opening act for Radiohead. As many as 2,000 people have attended SigurRós's hometown concerts, which many say is a bigger crowd than Iceland's most famous rock band, the Sugarcubes (Björk's former group), ever attracted. Sigur Rós, whose 1999 album "Ágætis Byrjun" was reported to be the best-selling local release in Iceland that year, also swept up the best album, best artist, best guitarist, best singer and best songwriter awards at the Icelandic Music Awards. The journalist finds a connection between the lunar-like landscape and the new Icelandic rock music. The full article is on New York Times´ website at



Membership fees are now due before December 10, 2000. The fee is $15 for individuals and $25 for families for continuing membership in the association. The “census” form is enclosed with an addressed and stamped envelope. Please mail the form with your check before the due date.

Mailing address: Sonja Johnson,treasurer
6105 N. Glenwood unit 2
Chicago, IL, 60660

Let us know if you know of anyone interested in joining. Either photocopy the form so he or she may mail it to us with the annual fee or have them contact us via e-mail or phone.

We thank you dearly!

The Icelandic Association of Chicago cordially invites all Icelanders, descendants of Iceland and friends of Iceland to join our organization. Please forward a copy of this to anyone interested to join.

The year 2000 will be an exiting year for Iceland, including celebration of one thousand years since Christianization and the discovery of America (Vineland) by Leif Eriksson son of Iceland.

Full name of member/s________________________________________

Name of child/children________________________________________


City, State_________________________________________________


Would you like to receive our newsletter (Frón) via e-mail or fax?

Yes___No___ E-mail/fax______________________________________

Do you plan to attend Þorrablót (March 3rd). If so, please indicate number of attendees___________

If you know of any Icelander, Icelandic descendant or friend of Iceland that would like to join our organization, please provide us with name/s and address.
The Smára Quartet comeback!

Smárakvartettinn á Akureyri or The Smára Quartet of Akureyri was a popular men’s ensemble in Iceland from 1936 to 1966. In addition to the 10 songs the quartet released during those years, 26 more songs have now been discovered, some never heard before except on “Smára” concerts. A complete set of their recordings is now being released together on a CD and will be offered with an anthology package containing photos, arrangements, lyrics and a narrative of the quartet’s history.

Related to the release of the CD is the foundation of The Smára Quartet Memorial Fund which main function is to give financial aid to voice students.

More information regarding the CD is to be found on where it is possible to listen to “Smárann” and view photos. You can also place an order for the CD on the web page or contact members of the Icelandic Association of Chicago for more information.
Scandinavia House: A Smorgasbord of Nifty Ideas

This is the title of an article that appeared in NY Times November 3rd discussing the new Scandinavia House just below 38th street in NY. It is the new home of the American-Scandinavian Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in NY 1910 to promote achievements of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The article states the 28,000-squeare-foot headquarters is a gift to the city where it promises to be place where visitors encounter the achievements of five different Northern European cultures through exhibitions, films, lectures and a school program and also by inhabiting them a little by simply stepping through the front door. In this regard Scandinavia House joins the short list of remarkable places and structures, like the Japan Society on East 47th Street, that enable one to travel elsewhere temporarily without having to leave town. The article gives a detailed description of the architecture and design of the building, and the objects on display. It concludes with the following: “If exhibitions of new design should introduce us to newly minted forms that save time, space, labor or possibly lives; that are beautiful and seem indelibly of the moment; and that make us understand our bodies, society or the world around us in new ways, this exhibition more than delivers. Sometimes it does all these things at once in the same object.”

Sounds like a fun place to visit next time you are in the Big Apple!

The full article can be obtained on the New York Times’ website at:

We need a logo

We are currently looking for ideas for a logo for the association. All ideas are welcomed. In general a logo should be an original construction, simple and something that represents the association. Preferably, it should look good both in color as well as in black and white. If you have an idea, please contact any of the board members.

The day of the Icelandic tongue

In fall of 1995 did the Icelandic government approve Mr. Björn Bjarnason´s, minister of education, proposal to make the birthday of Jónas Hallgrímsson November 16 the day of the Icelandic tongue. The day is dedicated to the preservation of the language, Icelandic. Icelanders are reminded of the value of the Icelandic for our culture and for our roots. The media, schools, institutions, associations and individuals celebrate the day in different ways. The minister of education gives The Jónas Hallgrímsson Prize that day in addition to other recognitions for efforts made for the preservation of the Icelandic.

Til hamingju með dag íslenskrar tungu! (Happy Icelandic day!)

Thursday, May 25, 2000

May 2000


Gleðilegt sumar! It is a nice custom in Iceland to wish people 'Happy Summer' on the first day of summer, which this year was celebrated on the 20th of April. Spring has arrived in Chicago, although, on Icelandic standard, this weather would be considered a good summer. It is time for our newsletter, which this time is full of information about what is happening and what already happened - exciting things we can tell you all about! Rumor has it that some people had so much fun at the Þorrablót that they will not party till next year, but that is a different story... We are currently working on the 17th of June celebration. This time we will meet in the Cantigny Park for a family picnic and we hope to see a lot of people there. We are also setting up a class in Icelandic, a monthly book club meeting, and updating the Website. Next on the agenda will be the Scandinavian Day in Vasa Park and the Annual Meeting. For an organization with sixty families this is pretty good - don't you think? If anyone has ideas that he or she would like to pursue, please contact us or feel free to write in the newsletter. This year Iceland celebrates 1000 years of Christianity with lots of festivities in Iceland. For more information check out This year is also a celebration of Leif Eriksson's discovery of America and in honor of the Vikings several cities in the US have organized exhibitions and other events. For more information visit the website For those of you who do not have access to the world wide web we have phone numbers and addresses for further information. To make this newsletter as interesting as possible help us out with materials, advertisements, and information. Please contact our editor Sóley Runólfsdóttir at: 847-640-0472 or email Have a wonderful and safe summer, Einar Steinsson, President


We do hope that everyone enjoyed themselves at the Þorrablót as much as we did. We thought it went over very well and were very happy to see so many of you there. We have already started talking about next year's event and are thinking of ways to make it even better than ever. If anyone has any suggestions please let us know, give Einar or Sóley a call and we will take anything into consideration. Here are the numbers for the last 3 years of the Þorrablót. The Þorrablót is the event that we spend most of our income on.


17th of June approaches quickly. This year we want to invite everyone to join us at Cantigny Park!! Cantigny is located in Wheaton, Illinois, a western Chicago suburb, approximately two miles north of Interstate 88. We will have it picnic style, so everyone bring a picnic basket-nothing will be provided. Let's meet at 2.00PM at the main entrance. If you are planning to attend give Einar and Lena a call @ 773.489.4621. We want to see how many of you will be able to attend so we can plan on either meeting everyone at the gate or put up signs to lead the way to where we will be.


As Einar mentioned before, there are many events surrounding Vikings being the first to come to America. Check out this website


The following information was taken from the home page of the Embassy of Iceland ( ), February 1997. The main principle under Icelandic law is that Icelandic nationals have only Icelandic citizenship. There are several exceptions: Rule I: Children born abroad of (a) married Icelandic couples or (b) single Icelandic mothers acquire Icelandic citizenship and in many cases also the nationality of their country of birth, such as children born in the USA. Exception A: children that are born abroad and never reside in Iceland lose their Icelandic nationality at the age of 22. They can apply before they reach that age to retain their Icelandic citizenship. They may maintain dual citizenship in such a case. Rule II: Children born of parents of mixed nationality (Icelandic and a foreign nationality) acquire Icelandic and, in most cases, also the foreign nationality if (a) the parents are married, (b) the mother is Icelandic and single, or © the father is Icelandic and single and subsequently weds the mother. This applies to unmarried children under 18 years of age. Exception A: The above rule does not apply to children born before July 1, 1982, if the mother is Icelandic and she was married to a non-Icelandic national. Such children did not acquire Icelandic nationality at birth. Exception B: children that are born abroad and never reside in Iceland lose their Icelandic nationality at the age of 22. They can apply before they reach that age to retain their Icelandic citizenship. They may maintain dual citizenship in such a case. Rule III: Foreign nationals who are naturalized in Iceland by law are not required to renounce their foreign nationality and can thus have dual citizenship.


We want to remind everyone of our webpage that has been updated with pictures from the Þorrablót. If you have any pictures to share and want them on the webpage you can always have them scanned and e-mail them to Orri Hallgrimsson []. We also want to remind everyone that we always welcome new faces in our organization.


Congratulations to Anna María Kárdal and Ásgeir Karl Ólafsson on their new baby girl. Sigríður Helga was born on February 25th. Icelandic Artist @ the Art Institute Olafur Elíasson is a well known contemporary artist who has two pieces on display at The Art Institute of Chicago from May 10th until 13th of August.


Pat Michalski is a special assistant to the governor for ethnic affairs and ethnic media. This coming Sunday (May 21st) the ethnic communities are throwing a surprise party for her to which You are invited. The party is held at Hanging Gardens Banquet Hall (13 Colonies), 8301 W. Belmont, River Grove from 3pm - 6pm. Please RSVP at Onesti Entertainment Co. 773-625-0506.

Tuesday, January 25, 2000

January 2000


Happy New Year and Happy Millennium – that is if you believe the millennium just started!

Lena and I just returned from a three weeks vacation to Iceland. We had a wonderful time and almost felt like visitors since we have not been "home" in two years. What is new in Iceland you may ask? – I’ll share some of my observations with you. The first thing that struck me is that everyone is on the phone, that is, on the cellular phone. When I say everyone I mean everyone. The increase in cellular phones has been the fastest in Iceland of all the countries in the world. Icelanders have 170,000 cell phones today and 280,000 inhabitants and that’s counting everyone: children, elderly, etc. I’m glad to inform you that the economy is in good shape. There is no unemployment (1%), little inflation (3.5%), and people seem happier than ever. There is, however, a big difference between the countryside and the Reykjavik area. Reykjavik and the Southwest corner are blooming but unemployment, low pay, and migration from small villages are the reality of the countryside. Fortunately, there are few exceptions. Akureyri, for example, still offers opportunities for growth, but overall the split is overwhelming.

Those are few pointers that I thought you might find interesting. Back to Chicago and the Icelandic Association of Chicago. We had a good year and now that the Þorrablót is coming up everyone is getting excited. This year we are going to have lots of fun, good food, and Bassi is going to play all our favorite songs, English and Icelandic. We must all try to get as many people to attend as possible, because: The more, the merrier! Invite your friends and/or enemies, your extended family, and coworkers. We will welcome everyone as always. See you at the Þorrablót.

Einar Steinsson

Last Friday (21) was the "Bóndadagur" which by the Old Icelandic almanac marks the beginning of the Þorra-season. Since early settlement Icelanders have challenged the gloominess of the harsh winter months by celebrating Þorrinn. The tradition is derived from Asatru and has lived with the nation despite its pagan origin. Today people regard Þorrablót as an opportunity to come together to dance, sing, eat, and be merry. Indeed, Þorrablót is all of the above, but Þorrablót is also a unique opportunity to cherish, maintain, and strengthen our cultural heritage. Without Þorrablót few people would know, let along eat, food that is prepared and processed in the same way as our forefathers and mothers, the Vikings, did. An old proverb claims the way to a man's heart lies through his stomach. Similarly, those who seek to understand a nation should search for answers through its cuisine. How much better must not two individuals from different cultures understand each other if they share a passion for pickled testicles? And how much closer must not a person identify with heroes like Egill Skallagrimsson, Hallgerdur Langbrok and Njall Skarphedinsson when chewing on a sheep’s head or Harðfiskur. Besides, what fun would it be without the expression of a clueless visitor tasting Hákarl and Brennivín for the first time!


On February 26th we’ll have our annual Þorrablót at the Swedish Museum on 5211 N. Clark Street, Chicago (tel. 773-728-8111).

We’ll start the Blót at 6.30 pm with hors d’oeuvre and cocktails on the second floor. Around 7.30 we’ll move to the main floor and dine Icelandic food from Bautabúrið and American food from Wickström’s catering. While we’re enjoying the delicates Bassi will play his piano and, of course, everyone should be ready to sing along and to join the Þorrachorus on stage. Finishing with home made deserts we’ll draw in the raffle, welcome the speaker of the night, and then clear the floor for dancing the night away.

The price for a single ticket bought in advance is $45 for a member, $55 for a non-member. The price for a single ticket bought at the entrance is $50 for a member, $65 for a non-member. The price for children 6-15 years is $25, children 5 years and younger are free of charge.

Like last year, we have a special deal with a hotel in that area which is within walking distance of the museum. It is The Chicago Lodge on 920 West Foster; their number is 773-334-5600. All you have to do is call them, tell them you are with the Icelandic Association of Chicago and they will be happy to help you. Parking will be available at Clark and Foster and also on side streets and at the bank one block north of the museum, no permits will be needed.


Those of you who want to purchase ticket(s) in advance must do so no later than February 15th. Please make checks payable to the Icelandic Association and send to Sonja Johnson, 4812 N. Hermitage (#3a), Chicago, IL 60640. Tel. 773.271.1635. Email: We are also reminding those who still need to pay the membership fee ($25 or $15) to please send that at this time also.


An organization like ours is dependent on the availability and goodwill of its members. For this Þorrablót we’ll need some people to bring deserts. Pönnukökur, for example, are traditional Icelandic treat easy to make. Baking "experts" out there willing to help, please contact Lena at 773-489-4621 for further information.


Although Orri (Lena’s brother) left Chicago almost a year ago he keeps his ties to the Windy City and the Icelandic Association by updating our web page. Recently, he created a brand new site for us and the new track is: On the site you’ll find our newsletter, useful links to Iceland, e-mail addresses of members, and much more. Please visit the new web page and write Orri comments and suggestions.


The Icelandic Association will offer mixed cocktail and Brennivín at the reception before dinner. We’ll sell wines by the bottle, beer, and some basic hard liquor. Soft drinks are free and, as before, anyone can bring her or his beverage of choice.


Hörður G. Ólafsson (Bassi) from Sauðárkrókur will visit us to play and sing our favorite tunes. Most of us already know Bassi and his talent as a musician but hopefully many more will get to know him this year. Bassi is probably most famous for his contribution to the European Grand Prix song contest when Sigga Beinteins and Grétar Örvars sang his song "Eitt lag enn" (One More Song) and won the fourth place, which till last year was Iceland’s best achievement. Bassi is a certified maker of porcelain teeth and runs his practice in Sauðárkrókur but keeps busy all year round, traveling around Iceland, singing and playing for people who want to have good time. Last year Bassi published his first CD on which some of Iceland’s most recognized and loved musicians performed.


Generally, there is a vague sense that Þorri was some kind of personification of winter, married to a womanly wight named Góa (the first two months in the Icelandic calendar are supposed to be called after them). According to some Icelandic traditions, the wife went out to greet Þorri and the man went out the next month to greet Góa, who was addressed as being milder than her rough husband. According to others, the man of the farm was supposed to go out half-dressed and walk around the house at the feast of Þorri.

The origin of the name Þorri is unknown, although, Icelanders have known the name itself since the 11th century. Likely speculation is that Þorri is one of many nicknames for the god Thor. Soon, however, Þorri became the metaphor and personator for the harsh Icelandic winters, and is today commonly used as such.