Friday, October 25, 2002

October 2002


I want to be the first one to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year even though it’s still early December.

Since this is the last newsletter of the year I feel it’s appropriate to look back and evaluate what we have accomplished. Let’s first look at the end and …. you get the picture?

We’ll end the year with a “Jólabarnaball” on the 28th of December and I hope children of all ages will show up and have a great time. This is the first time we do this and I know you all will help make this a success. And Santa Claus will show up!

Two weeks ago we had a great Christmas tree decoration at The Museum of Science and Industry and few of us later attended the opening of the show Christmas Around the World. It’s really a nice show to explore and taking in trees from over 50 nations will definitely get you in the Christmas spirit.

27th of October we had our General Meeting at a nice restaurant in Anderson Ville, Chicago – Mr. Thai. Nearly thirty members and guests showed and everyone had a good time. We did some number crunching, elected the board, and made plans for 2003.

In September Stella invited us to a crafts meeting at her house were we fixed up our Christmas decorations – painted and made new Santa Clauses for our tree at the museum. This was a fun event and we had twenty attendees with children.

On Scandinavian Day Lena and I set up and ran our booth in Vasa Park with a great help from John Hofteig. We made a profit of around $150 and met a lot of people interested in the association and Iceland.

15th of June we celebrated Iceland’s Independent Day – 17th of June, in Cantigny Park where 30 people barbequed and dined in a weather that we can only dream about and long for now in the cold!

We had a productive meeting at Steinar’s house in May, finally evaluating the Þorrablót and discussing upcoming events.

Last, but not least, The Þorrablót this year was very successful with more people than ever. The only thing that went wrong was the sound system but everyone had great food, great company, and a great time.

Let’s do it again in 2003.

Einar Steinsson, President



Norwegians are in addition to being the nicest people, closely knit to us through our common history and culture. They are also known to be quite argumentative and stubborn in a disputes (just as we are), especially with their sister nation in the North-Atlantic.

One of the everlasting arguments between the two nations is the nationality of Leifur Eiríksson, the discoverer of North-America. Opinions about this are strong on both sides. I have had people of Norwegian descent hiss at me red in the face: “Everyone knows Leif was Norwegian.” At the Norway station at Epcot in Disney World is a diagram that shows how Leif and other Vikings traveled from Norway to Iceland, Greenland and then Vínland. Which they did over a course of few hundred years, but was Leifur Norwegian? That is where the issue gets sticky.

Leifur’s grandfather was Þorvaldur Ásvaldsson who lived in Jaðar in Norway. He and his son Eiríkur the red left Norway for Iceland after a slaying. They settled at first at Drangar at Hornstrandir which is a very remote area in North-West Iceland (currently deserted and only accessible by boat, helicopter or few days walking across a barren landscape). Eiríkur married an Icelandic woman Þjóðhildur whose family had long lived in Haukadal. Their two sons, Leifur and Þorsteinn, were both born in Iceland.

After having lived in Haukadal for number of years, he was forced to leave Haukadal after another slaying. He was later found guilty of manslaughter, left the country and settled in Greenland. He named the country so as is obviously taught in schools in US today, so that “menn þat mjök mundu fýsa þangat, ef landit héti vel” or “people would like to go there if the name was right.”

In those times, a tradition for Icelanders who wanted to make a name for them was to sail to Norway to spend some time with the King and his court. Leifur sailed from Greenland to Norway and did just that. He and the King became good friends. On his way home he found Vínland with wheat fields and grapevine. Vínland was later settled temporarily by a man named Þorfinnur karlsefni.

My argument would be that even though Leifur’s father and grandfather were Norwegian, Leifur was born in Iceland by an Icelandic woman, grew up there only to move to Greenland as an adult and only going to Norway for educational purposes. It’s like saying that an Icelander on a student visa in the US is an American!! No, let’s not be ridiculous. Of course Leifur was Icelandic and he came here first!

Merry Christmas everyone or Gleðileg Jól.

1)Eiríks saga rauða (The Saga of Erik the red).
2) Grænlendinga saga (The Saga of Greenlanders)


The Annual Board meeting was held on October 27th at Mr. Thai in Chicago. Nineteen adults and six children attended. We reflected on the past year and what we would like to accomplish this year. Here is a summary of the agenda.

1. Annual Finance Report was reviewed and approved Sonja reported on the accounts for last year. In general the Association is better off financially than in preceding years. Einar explained that this was in part because this year's Þorrablót turned out to be less costly, and in part due to the profits made at the Scandinavian Day fair in September.

2. Board elected:

President: Einar Steinsson
Treasurer: Anna Kárdal
Editor: G. Steinar Guðmundsson
Secretary: Gunnar Hansson
Vice Presidents:
Stella Solis,
Binna Porter,
Jon Hofteig,
Sigurþór Heimisson
Siggi Birkis
Sonja Johnson
Auditor: Jon Hofteig
Webmaster: Orri Hallgrímsson

3. Membership fee was raised to $20 for individuals and $30 for families.

4. Þorrablót, Farsælda Frón, Christmas fest and decorations at the Science Museum were discussed.


Our traditionally decorated Christmas tree is among fifty other trees now on display at the Museum of Science and Industry. The tree will be up until 1 pm January 11 2003 when we will take everything down and it will be no more.


Annual membership fees are due January 15, 2002. Please, send in the enclosed pre-stamped envelope a check made payable to Icelandic Association of Chicago. Annual membership fees are $30 for families and $20 for individuals/students.


This year's Þorrablót will take place on February 22, 2003. The tradition has been to alternate between city and suburbs, and this time the location will be in the suburbs. An attractive option (in terms of space and cost) appears to be Gray's Mill in Montgomery where we held the Þorrablót in the year 2000. We are negotiating with them in regard to price, rental, fees, etc.

Hjónabandið will be hired again this year and we are currently shopping around for the best price in catering and Þorrafood.

The ticket price will be unchanged: for members $45 in advance and $50 at the door, and $55 for non-members. The higher at-the-door price ($50) will be strictly enforced.

More details will be in the next issue of Farsælda Frón.


Our new tradition, the annual Jólaball will be held at the Cheshire Club in Aurora Sunday 29th of September from 3 to 7 pm. We will provide drinks, soft drinks, juice, coffee and hot cocoa. Otherwise, we would like to have this in the “pot-luck” format where everyone brings pastry or other snacks for sharing.

Santa will be there with gifts for all the children. Some of the adults as well if they have been nice. Santa asks the parents to bring a $5-10 unmarked gift for each of their children that he (or she) will pass out randomly to the children. Suggestions are small books, games, crafts etc.

The Cheshire Club is on Winthrop New Road. Directions from Chicago are as follows: Take I-290 west and continue on I-88 west towards Aurora. Exit on IL-56 west. Go past the Prestbury Golf Course and turn right on Golf View Road. Turn right on Hankes Rd and then left at Winthrop New Road and the club is on the left hand side of the road. See map.



Icelanders in North America

The First Settlers by Jonas Thor

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, thousands of Icelanders emigrated to both North and South America. Although the best known Icelandic settlements were in southern Manitoba, in the area that became known as “New Iceland”, Icelanders also established important settlements of varying duration in Brazil, Minnesota, Utah, Wisconsin, Washington, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia.

The story of the Icelanders´adjustment to the new agriculture, climate and society is one of perseverance, exploration, and religious and social controversy, as they struggled to retain their Icelandic heritage. By the end of the 19th century, the dream of an exclusive Icelandic colony had been replaced by new settlement patterns and expectations. A gradual assimilation occurred, but the continuous immigration and the patriotism of the Icelanders ensured that the Icelandic culture was retained, and is still in evidence today.

Using letter, Icelandic and English periodicals and newspapers, census reports, and archival repositories, Jonas Thor looks at Icelandic immigration from a continent-wide perspective. Illustrated with maps and photographs, this book is a detailed, social history of the Icelanders in North America, from the first settlement in Utah to the struggle in New Iceland.

Jonas Thor studies history at the University of Iceland and University of Manitoba and now teaches in Reykjavik.

Order from: University of Toronto Press 1-800-565-9523. USA orders ship from New York warehouse. Individual orders may be pain by check or money order, or charged to Visa or MasterCard.


This winter I will teach a beginners course in Icelandic at North Park University. The class is scheduled for mid January through April, a total of 12 weeks, 1 1/2 hours 1 night a week. The fee for the course is $150 + book. Please contact the university, 773-244-6200, for information.

Hope to see some of ya there!


Lena Hallgrímsdóttir 773-489-4621

Online Interpreters
7232 N. Linder Ave.
Skokie, IL 60077
Tel. 847-232-5001/2641
Toll Free 877-269-6646
Fax 847-232-5031


The Reykjavík Tríó in Chicago in February

The Reykjavík Tríó was established in 1988 and has performed at multiple places in Iceland and Denmark, in addition to performances in Germany, Finland, Britain and The Czech Republic. Their recorded performances have been broadcast throughout Europe. The members Guðný Guðmundsdóttir, violin, Gunnar Kvaran, cello and Peter Máté, piano, are all faculty members at the newly established music department of the Iceland Academy of the Arts in Reykjavik. Their concert in Chicago will be at North Park University on Saturday afternoon, February 8, 2003 at 3 pm in Anderson Chapel. The program is as follows:

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Piano Trio in C minor, Opus I No. 3
Allegro con brio
Andante cantabile con variazione
Menuetto: quasi allegro
Finale: prestissimo

Jón Nordal (1926- )
Sighing on a sleeping string (1998)

Antonin Dvorák (1841-1904)
Piano Trio in F minor, Opus 65
Allegro ma non troppo
Allegro grazioso
Poco adagio
Finale: allegro con brio

Saturday, May 25, 2002

May 2002



Many Icelanders think the summer is the best time of the year and there is some truth to that. The summer is a big deal in a country that has so many months of darkness, so many snowstorms, and so many people hit by the winter blues. We really love the sun, the heat, and swimming in warm waters. This we can do in Chicago and to some extent get more sun than needed, more heat we can tolerate, and more Lake than we can take.

We are not going swimming for the 17th of June celebration… but we might get some sun and things might get hot! After all we are going to barbeque!! I hope all of you will join us on the 15th of June for an independence picnic in Cantigny Park.

11th of May the IAC had a board meeting, which turned out to be very successful. Many people showed up and some new members. We reviewed the Þorrablót, set the date for the 2003 Þorrablót, and talked about other things that you can read about in this newsletter. We thanked Sóley Runólfsdóttir for a job well done, but she has served on the board for the last four years. Sóley is a dear friend and we wish her luck in Nebraska. To replace Sóley as our secretary we elected Gunnar Ólaf Hanson – welcome on board Gunnar.

Scandinavian Day will be held in September and we are going to make that the best participation by our organization so far. We have set the wheels in motion - look for more exciting new about this event in the next newsletter.

Have a fantastic summer and please do not hesitate to contact us with ideas, news, and things that can improve our organization – especially, more new members!

Gleðilegt sumar!

Einar Steinsson, President

From the Editor

“Þátttaka” is the Icelandic word for participation, the only word I know with triple t’s (please, e-mail me if you know of any other ones). It is made from the words to “taka þátt” or to “take part”. Whether it is an individual, organization or a nation, it is important to participate, to be seen and not be isolated. That is one of the reasons Iceland, a small nation of 300,000 people participates in the Olympics, for example. They do not expect to win a medal but the act of participating is the main goal, in addition to bringing more competing experience to our athletes. Most of the time, participation enriches the individual or the organization and the participants feel they are contributing to the event. After the Scandinavian Day last fall, I have had mixed feelings, to say the least, regarding our participation in this particular event. I thought we would be representing a distinct group of people in Chicago, introducing our food, our flag and our heritage, at least making us visible. However, my experience was quite on the contrary. At last year’s Scandinavian Day, our association was placed in a booth with some independent entrepreneurs of Swedish descent, whose main goal is to make money from selling Swedish-American pancakes. We had brought some Icelandic food to sell and were able to sign up few people for the association but our main job was to direct people to the pancakes in the other corner of the booth. It was a gloomy day with rain and mud so maybe my view is skewed, but as a proud member of the Icelandic community here in Chicagoland, I felt our participation in the Scandinavian Day to be both humiliating and degrading. Despite being called “Scandinavian Day” this event has evolved into something else than a meeting of Scandinavians but is more like a commercial event where people sell goods and make profit (there was even a Volvo dealership in the park). Now, I do not appose to people earning an honest buck but since the Icelandic Association has not been a for-profit-organization, I am not sure we have been in the park on the right terms. Therefore, I suggest that if we are to continue to participate in this event, we need to make ourselves more visible, put up signs and have more of a presence. We might consider contacting various Icelandic export companies (and their U.S. importing counterparts) to see if they have promotional goods to offer for sale—e.g., fish products, wool products, water, etc. We will need to be in a separate booth maybe with posters of Iceland and various food samples for people to taste. We do not have to sell anything but just be more visible and more distinct. The bottom line is that I do not think this is an event where participation is the key since we are barely visible and nobody cares less whether we are there or not. And if we do not feel we can be there in full force, I don’t think we should be there at all.

Þorrablót 2002 and 2003

This year the attendance was quite good, with 70 people paying admission. Nevertheless, we again lost some money, though somewhat less than in the last two years (see next page). Many were pleased to be back in familiar surroundings, in the Swedish-American Musuem. There were some complaints about how inadequate the sound system was and also the lack of a real dance band. But, Hundur í óskilum were undeniable entertaining.

The date for the next Þorrablót is set for February 22, 2003. Many favor the idea to have it every other year in the suburbs alternating with the Museum downtown. We are currently looking for venue for next year´s Þorrablót and will have final decision regarding location by the end of September.

New Secretary

We were sad to hear that Sóley has moved to Nebraska, leaving her post as secretary vacant. Gunnar Ólafur Hansson, a newcomer to the Chicago society, agreed to take her place on the board as the next secretary. Welcome, Gunnar

Mexican-Icelandic Christmas?

Our decorations for the ‘Christmas Around The World’ exhibition need to be repaired or touched up. A crafts meeting has been scheduled for 11:00 am on Saturday, September. Remember, God loves a volunteer! So, mark the date and get early in on the Christmas spirit. There will be plenty of food, since we plan to have this as a potluck lunch on a Mexican theme. Please, e-mail Stella Solis if you want to participate

Thanks to Þorrablót Donors!

The Association would like to thank everyone who donated their time and effort to the Þorrablót, helping to make it the success it was. Many of you donated prizes in the raffle, food and beverages. We thank you as well.