Thursday, December 25, 2003

Þorrablót 2004

Þorrablót 2004


A unique opportunity to sample Icelandic delicacies such as pickled testicles, sour blood pudding, rotten shark, sheep heads, dried fish, brennivin (black death), and much more. Don't despair, we will offer less exotic food for everyone to enjoy! The Þorrablót will be held on February 28th at the Swedish Museum 5211 N. Clark Street, Chicago (tel. 773-728-8111).

Our guests of Honor are the Icelandic Ambassador from Washington DC, Helgi Ágústsson and his wife Hervör Jónasdóttir.

The Blót will begin promptly at 6.30 PM with hors d'oeuvre and drinks. Followed with dinner, sing-a-long (in Icelandic!), open podium, home made desserts and our famous raffle where prizes include Icelandic music, food, candy baskets, books, airline tickets to Iceland (and back!) and many more surprises. Finally, we dance the night away…

This year the band "Slátrið" will make sure everyone gets to the dance floor. The band members are Júlíus Ólafsson who plays the guitar and sings, and Lárus Grímsson who plays the key board and sings. Júlíus and Lárus live in Reykjavík and have played with various groups in the past.

Price of ticket purchased in advance for members is $50 - non-members $55. Students $40. Ages 13 - 16 $30, 7 - 12 $20. Ticket price at the entrance for members is $55 - non-members $60 and $45 for students. Ages 13 - 16 $35, 7 - 12 $25. Admission for children 6 years and younger is free of charge. Advance purchase of ticket must be made before February 23rd. Please make checks payable to the Icelandic Association and mail to Anna María Kárdal, 719 Wildflower Circle, Naperville, IL 60540.

For further information call Einar and Lena at 773-489-4621

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

November 2003

From the President’s Desk

The Icelanders in Chicago are doing well: better jobs, more babies, bigger houses… If you attend the meetings and events we’ve planned throughout the year you can catch up on all the news of the families in the association, which I’m happy to report is good on most, if not all, fronts, knock on wood.

The economy in the US is moving up and in Iceland things are really turning to an upswing. Iceland’s economy is growing faster than most other Western economies mainly because of construction in relation to the new power plant in the eastern part of the country. The construction has been a real boost for the economy, although foreign workers do a lot of the work. This is good news as long as inflation lies low. The minor draw back for us is that it’s expensive to visit Iceland. Looking at specific industries there is some exciting news to report but hardly exciting enough to call for investment opportunities, but you never know. Privatization is on a fast track, banks have been sold and bought and one of the most famous firms in Iceland, Eimskip, recently changed hands in an exciting twist that can only mirror something from daytime TV soap. The short version: about 20 years ago there was a transportation company called Hafskip that was linked to a fraud, which led to the indictment of several executives. One left the country for Russia with an old soda factory in his luggage, which he set up as a beer factory and turned into a multimillion-dollar enterprise in Eastern Europe (he has since sold it to Anhauser Busch). He and his son are now two of the wealthiest Icelanders in the world and the new owners of Landsbankinn and Eimskip the biggest transportation firm on the island. Very interesting story.

At the home front we have the Þorrablót coming up on the 28th of February at the Swedish American Museum. We’ll have a new exciting band from Iceland, Slátrið, and the Icelandic Ambassador from Washington, DC, Helgi Ágústsson and his wife, as guests of honor. I hope all of you can make it.

Merry Christmas!

Einar Steinsson, President

Association Affairs

From the Editor

Re-Inventing the Wheel

Socialized medicine. It is interesting to see how these two words make Americans shudder and tighten up like they are some kind of dirty words. Socialized medicine. When other Western nations such as Britain and Iceland formed their National Health Care services in the early 20th century, a proposal for US National Health Care plan failed to pass through congress. The Clinton administration tried again in the nineties but failed. Health care cost in the US is the highest in the world or about 14% of the GNP while in European countries and Canada it is around 8% on the average. Outcome studies have not shown that this difference makes Americans healthier than other Western societies. In fact, Canadians live on average 1 year longer and the average age in the US has slightly decreased. Medicare reform and prescription drug benefits have been high on the agenda in Washington and Illinois has been in the news for trying to save money by re-importing drugs manufactured in the US from Canada. 40 million Americans are without medical insurance and those who have it typically obtain it through their employer and loose it if they loose their job. Often have I taken care of patients without insurance whose health care cost runs in the tens of thousands of dollars without the patient being able to pay a dime. And where does the bill go? In the end it goes to you, the taxpayer since the government supports the hospitals that take care of these patients.

For someone like me who works in the US health care system and is also used to socialized medicine environment, this struggle has been interesting to watch. For those who grew up in Iceland you would know that there you DO NOT WORRY about health insurance. You are not dependent on your job for benefits and if you need a heart transplant on bypass surgery the National Health Care Plan will provide you with this. There is co-pay that is usually peanuts (even though Icelanders complain about it) compared to what you pay in the US. Most prescription drugs for chronic illnesses are free or heavily subsidized. Usually there are no restrictions on what brand you can use even though there are some guidelines based on cost. Like in other countries with National Health Care plan, certain elective procedures such as hip and even bypass surgeries may have waiting lists but if you need something done right away, it is done right away. Also, if you need to seek special medical care that is not available in Iceland, your trip and medical cost is paid for elsewhere. In the 80’s bypass surgeries were done in England but are now done home in Iceland. Transplants are typically done in Scandinavia and many parents have taken their ill children to Boston Children’s Hospital here in the US. Many adult patients have been taken to the Mayo Clinic for special care (there is an Icelandic interpreter on staff there). This system is far from being perfect but it guarantees health care for every individual regardless of income, social status and place of residence. Of course it costs money and taxation is higher in Europe and Iceland that is a small price to pay when you suddenly need to sell your house because you had a car accident and need to be in the intensive care unit or need chemotherapy.

It is because of this that I always feel that Americans are trying to re-invent the wheel when I listen to their discussion on health care. It is obvious to me that the medical system in this country, with all its resources, technology and knowledge, IS BROKEN, mainly because is it NOT AVAILABLE to the ones that need it the most. The cost of modern medicine is simply too high for an individual or most employers or insurance companies to carry. Therefore, it is my believe that Americans missed the boat in the 1930’s but need to get back and establish a National Health Care Plan that works and is available for everyone. Health care should be taken out as a Union bargaining chip and you should not have to depend on your employer for it. Some feel that national health care would be too restricted and you would loose your autonomy. Actually many countries such as Iceland and Australia have a combination of private and government run health care institutions where doctors can have their own offices and facilities and are not employees of the government but are more like contractors. In such cases, you can have general health care but still maintain patient autonomy where they get to decide where to go for their health.

Annual Board Meeting

The Annual Board meeting was held on October 23 at Satay Restaurant a pan-Asian restaurant in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Attendees were Einar Steinsson, Lena Hallgrímsdóttir, Vilborg Einarsdóttir, Binna Porter, Paul Sturm, Siggi Birkis, Jónas Birkis, Anna Kárdal, Ásgeir Ólafs, Óli Axel and Sigga, Leifur Björns and Rita, Larry and Jonie Shaw, John Hofteig, Undine Johnson, Sonja and Marc Johnson. Participation was what we expected 18 adults and 2 children. We missed some of our loyal members this year but were pleasantly pleased to have couple of “old” ones, who we have not seen for some time.

We reviewed last year’s accounts and had a negative income margin of $327.34, which leaves us with $2,515.60 in assets.

Everyone kept their post, except Stella who is taking a break from any duties this year:

President: Einar Steinsson
Treasurer: Anna Kárdal
Secretary: Lena Hallgrímsdóttir
Editor: G. Steinar Guðmundsson
Vice – Presidents: Binna Porter
John Hofteig (Membership and Marketing)
Siggi Birkis (Auditor)
Sonja Johnson

Membership fees will be the same as last year: $30 for a family, $20 for an individual.

Then we discussed Þorrablót 2004, the web site and newsletter and various other subjects regarding the association.

Our Christmas tree at the Museum of Science and Industry

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. Please contact Lena (773-489-4621) if you want to help.

Remember, Annual Membership Fees are due January 15th.

Annual membership fees are due January 15, 2003. 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. Remember to include the membership survey.


This year's Þorrablót will take place on February 28, 2004 at The Swedish Museum. Júlíus Ólafsson and Lárus Grímsson who form the band “Slátrið” will visit us from Iceland to take care of the music, which is an indispensable part of the event.

The ticket price will be: for members $50 in advance and $55 at the door, and $60 for non-members. The higher at-the-door price ($55) will be strictly enforced.

Everyone keep an eye out for raffle prizes, especially, those who are travelling to Iceland. More details will be in the next issue of Farsælda Frón.

Jólabarnaball 2003 (Children’s Yulefest 2003)

This new tradition will be at Sonja Johnson´s house on December 27th at 3 pm sharp. Please RSVP to Sonja (847-675-2091) if you would like to attend with your children. We will dance around the Christmas tree and maybe Santa will honor us with a visit.

Letters to the Association

Árni Helgason 16. March 1891 - 11. December 1968

As the years roll on details become obscure and ultimately failing memories) and perhaps interest) place questions marks after names of those distinguished members of the far flung Icelandic community who, not so long ago, brought a degree of recognition to Iceland far exceeding its then importance on the world scene. In that group rests Árni Helgason about whose life details are worth noting. I write of him because I did not know the others.

Árni was born in Hafnarfjörður and joined the throng of immigrants to North America in 1912 settling first in Canada before moving to North Dakota where he completed his undergraduate studies at Farge State College before enlisting in the U.S. army for a year of service in France. A useful foot note on Árni´s attitue toward government authority can be found in the fact that when he enlisted – his first real contact with any kind of government authority – the recruiting officer placen an “e” at the end of his first name which “Árnie” used for the rest of his life in all communications with the U.S. government on the assumption that the government preferred that spelling and should get what it wanted.

After completing his military service, Árni returned to his studies receiving a Masters Degree from the University of Wisconsins 1925 in electrical science. He then joined Thordarsson electrical Manufacturing Company in Chicago. Árni contributed to the filing of many patents relating to automobile electrical systems and after leaving Thordarsson to form his own company, Chicago Standard Transformer Company, became one of the major suppliers to the U.S. automotive industry. Árni himselft quickly became a nationally known figure as a member of various Physics Clubs. National Electrical manufacturers Association, and many others. He received an honorary Doctor´s Degree from North Dakota State University in 1940. None of this, however, interfered with the service he was able to give to his beloved Iceland.

The activities described in broad terms here were essentially a back drop for the overwhelming interest in his native land that was ever present in his life and activities. He was, by any standard, a sucessful American manufacturer and business man yet found time and energy to support local activities enhancing knowledge of Iceland and was also an original shareholder of Eimskip, the Icelandic shipping company which is now an important factor in the international shipping community. In addition he was one of the founders of Rafha which was to become a major factor in the procuction and distribution of electrical energy in Iceland.

Árni´s overwhelming and constructive interest in Iceland coupled with his success as a businessman in American led the Icelandic government, then under Danish control, to award him the Order of the Knights Cross of the Order of the Falcon in 1939, to be augmented in 1944 by designating him a Knight Commander of that Order.

He had the unique ability to concentrate his significant talents on resolving the perceived problem of the moment. He caused Iceland to become an active participating member of the renowned American Scandinavian Society; assisted in creating The Honors Society of Icelandic-Americans; supported formation of the Icelandic Association of Chicago; lectured frequently at The University of Chicago; and was, of course, Iceland’s first Honorary Consul in America. From the degree of industry that he brought to representation of Iceland I would not have been surprised to find that some in Chicago may have thought Iceland and the Soviet Union to be about the same in size.

I remember with particular pleasure a meeting of the Chicago Consular Corps, which I attended as Árni, was out of the city. In the 15 years of Árni´s life that I served as Vice Consul I do not believe he missed a single meeting except when travelling and I can still hear the Consul General of Great Britain commenting to me, “It doesn´t seem like the Consular Corps without Árni.”

Throughout his life he gave support whenever possible to causes in both countries with the emphasis, when appropriate, on Iceland. Icelandic students continue to distignuish themselves at colleges and universtities there while Icelandic busines, particularly that based on high technology, seems to be flourishing. America is now much more to the Icelander that the frozen aspects of North Dakota.

Árni appeared to be in good health to the very end, dying in the last lap of his bi-weekly swim at the Chicago Athletic Association.

I like to think that much of the progress made by Icelanders in America was made possible by men and women who shared Árni´s spirit of dedication and loyality to the homeland as well as to their adopted country.

Árni died leaving his widow, Kristín who had come to America with her parents from Skagafjörður about the time that Árni emigrated. They had no children and Kristín survived Árni by a few years.

P. Sveinbjörn Johnson

November 11, 2003

The Ultimate Icelandic-North American Directory

Christmas Gift Book
Icelandic Organization SPECIAL Compiled and Edited by Mackenzie Kristjon

ISBN 0-9689119-1-9 / 6”x9” / 220 pages / Retail Price: $22.95 CDN/$18.95 US

“A great pioneering work”-Hjalmar Hanneson, former Icelandic Ambassador to Canada

This valuable resource includes listings of Icelandic businesses, organizations, festivals,

museums, libraries, Icelandic educational opportunities, artists, writers & more…

You may view this book and others with Icelandic Content at our website through The Icelandic Embassy at , or directly at You may also take special note of ‘The Culinary Saga of New Iceland’ by Kristin Olafson-Jenkyns, a double medallist with the Cuisine Canada Awards and endorsed by Astridur Thorarensen of Reykjavik. Also,”Falcons Gold” by Kathleen Arnason a fabulous story about the fabled Icelandic-Canadian Hockey Team from Winnipeg that won the very first OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL!

It is with this intent that we extend this very special offer at this very

special discount: Number of Directories: Price/Book: Cdn US 1 – 10 13.75 11.35, 11 – 100 12.40 10.25, 101 – 250 11.15 9.20, 251 – 500 10.00 8.25, 501+ 9.00 7.45 +GST + applicable tax

Shipping extra Mail, fax or email your order to: COASTLINE PUBLISHING Suite 511,3-304 Stone Road West Guelph ON Canada N1G 4W4 p/f: 905 627 6921 e:

The association has received a letter from, which is a new store on the web that specializes in selling Icelandic goods abroad. They offer good selection and good prices.

News You Can Use

The Christmas gift that keeps on giving – Icelandair Christmas Package

Fly coach to the US. Airfare, tax and service fee 29.900 ISK. Children, 2 - 11 years 24.900 ISK. Business Class to Europe / USA. Airfare, tax and service fee 39.900 If you buy the Icelandair Christmas gift package, you can pick your destination in Europe and USA You can make a reservation for a certain destination as you buy the Christmas package. Reservations have to be made before January 23rd. The package can be used (if used as a gift) as payment for trips that start between January 10 and June 30th, 2004. Minimum stay: Saturday night. Maximum stay is 1 year. Included: Airfare, tax and service fee. Make a reservation as soon as possible since there is limited seating for this gift package.

Icelandic Lamb sold in the US

Whole Food Market in Baltimore has begun selling fresh lamb shipped directly from Iceland from “Norðlenska”. The Icelandic lamb has been available in 55 Whole Foods Market stores around the country in Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas and Colorado, and this fall 35 new Whole Foods stores be added. The lamb will be available only four months from September until Christmas. No word on when it will be available to us Chicagoians.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

September 2003

From the President’s Desk

The “dog days” of summer or are they over? It is quite puzzling to Icelanders, or at least resent immigrants from Iceland, that the summer ends at the beginning of September when the weather is almost perfect, 75F and sunny. A nice summer day in Iceland is 60F. Anyhow, I hope you are having a great SUMMER.

Let us talk about the association of active, unique, and special Icelanders! We had a great open board meeting at our house in early August; 15 people showed. We had a good meeting and then I cooked up some burgers and hotdogs. It was a very nice day and everyone had a good time. At that meeting we decided not to participate in the Scandinavian Day this year. There was no interest in going to Vasa Park no one was willing to work there for a day. We need to rethink this before next year – maybe, we should form a committee; let me know if you are interested in participating. Secondly, we are working on Þorrablót 2004; the date is 28th of February. We have found a great band in Iceland to entertain us and there is more information about them in this newsletter. Thirdly, we are participating in a Leif Eriksson weekend on the 11th and 12th of October and there is more info elsewhere in this newsletter but we all know he was Icelandic, right. Lastly, we are going to have the General Meeting on the 26th of October at 5 o’clock at a very nice restaurant called Satay. It is BYOB and very good food for only $15 per person, half off for children and the youngest eat for free. I hope to see y’all there.

Einar Steinsson, President

Nói Albínói -An Icelandic Movie

Contrasting in the usual climate, but very promising, Dagur Kári's International Critic's Award-winner, Nói Albínói (Iceland), follows a gifted teen rebel whose youthful wanderlust is frostbitten by dead-end small-fjord life. This debut combines melancholic Kaurismaki-like humor with lyrical romanticism, while delivering its own audacious twists of fate.
This is an excellent movie according to Einar and Lena who saw it in Iceland last June. It’ll be showing in Chicago soon as a part of the Chicago International Film Festival. Form more info visit

From the Association

From the Editor

Due to unusual circumstances and reasons that are beyond my control, the newsletter is now in a slightly different format. It is my hope that after the “slight technical difficulties” that I am facing as an editor of a newsletter have resolved, the newsletter can take back its old form. But we will see, maybe major changes are at hand…

General Meeting

The General Meeting will be held on October 26 at 5 PM at a very nice restaurant Satay.
“Head past the unappetizing sample plates arranged on a table just inside the door and through the bottleneck hallway and you'll find a spacious, stylish back room where chartreuse walls, recessed lights, nicely spaced tables, and soft music create an inviting place to eat. A range of Asian influences shows up in every category on the menu. To drink, there's a range of freshly squeezed juices (orange, carrot, or apple), smoothies, and dairy-free freezes (with or without tapioca "bubbles") in flavors like watermelon, lychee, and green tea.” From Chicago Reader.
It is BYOB and only $15 per person, ½ for children and the youngest eat for free. It is at 936 W Diversey in Chicago, next to the Brown Line Ell stop but parking is a challenge. RVSP to Einar and Lena if you wish to attend. Email or call 773.489.4621 (VM). We hope you can all make it. We will have elections so think about joining the board for next year.

New Secretary

Gunnar and Suzanne have left for Canada. Sóri and Lóa went back home to Iceland. Lena Hallgrímsdóttir is our new secretary. We will encourage new members to join the board.

Þorrablót 2004

A date and place for the Þorrablót was confirmed: February 28, 2004 at the Swedish Museum. Musicians this year are seasoned players from Iceland, Júlíus Ólafsson and Lárus Grímsson, who have played in various bands through the years. Júlíus, an elementary teacher and a soccer guru, played guitar in Silfurtónar which released a much played rock’a’billie record in the 90’s. Lárus is probably best known for his Led Zeppelin like band “Eik”. He is also a music teacher, sings and plays a wide variety of instruments, including the keyboard. We look forward to welcome Júlíus and Lárus to our Þorrablót – Mark your calendar…

Cristmas Tree at the Museum of Science and Industry

Our annual decoration of the Icelandic Christmas Tree at the Museum of Science and Industry will be Saturday November 15, at 1:00 PM. Please confirm your participation with Lena (773-489-4621). We will take the tree down Sunday January 11, at 3:00 PM. We are still looking for ideas for a square for the large ethnic tree skirt.

Letters to the Association

Icelandic Lessons!

I will start a beginner class in Icelandic by the end of September. This will be a two-hour class one night a week for 10 weeks at my house 1218 North Rockwell - limited number of students. The fee is $150 + cost of book (Colloquial Icelandic: The Complete Course for Beginners available at or selected book stores). I will also offer tutoring for more advanced Icelandic speakers. Please call me for further information 773-489-4621.

Icelandic Bibles Wanted

I'm looking for two Icelandic Bibles: an inexpensive Protestant Bible and (preferably) a leather-bound Catholic Bible (containing the Deutero-canonical books such as Tobit, Judith, Maccabees, etc.). The Bibles don't need to be new. I might even prefer used Bibles if it would save some money.

The Protestant Bible probably won't be too expensive. As for the Catholic Bible, I'm willing to pay as much as $50 to $100, but I'm not looking for one of those giant-sized family Bibles that barely fits on a coffee table just an ordinary-sized leather-bound edition.

I'd appreciate any advice you can give me. Perhaps you can put me in touch with a used book dealer who has what I'm looking for.

All good wishes,

Let Einar ( know if you can help this gentleman – he has his contact information

Leif Eiriksson Day

"For a number of years, a hardy group of true-blue Scandinavians in the greater Chicago area have been observing Leif Eriksson Day on the weekend nearest Columbus Day (the explorer, who visited the New World approximately 492 years AFTER Leif and friends made the FIRST discovery and briefly maintained settlements in and around New-Foundland and other Northeastern Atlantic sea coast locations).

This year, being the 1,000 the anniversary of Leif's original discovery and following the success of the Smithsonian VIKINGS exhibit which toured North America in recent years, the Leif Eriksson Festival Committee, with the financial underwriting of the Norwegian National League and assistance from North Park University's Scandinavian Center, is planning a more extensive program on Saturday, October 11, 2003 and Sunday, October 12, 2003.

Saturday, October 11,2003: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Friendship Park Conservatory Phone: 847 + 676 - 1237
395 Algonquin Road, Des Plaines, IL
(Algonquin Road a few blocks West of Route 83, Elmhurst Road)

The Program on Saturday will feature arts and crafts for children, story-telling, Scandinavian music & dancing entertainment, Scandinavian food for sale, and two formal historical presentations:

11:00 a.m.: Charles Peterson, North Park University: Leif Eriksson
2:30 p.m.: John H. Hofteig, Icelandic Association of Chicago: Early Viking Settlements in North America

Rain or shine, there will be activities inside and outside the Mt. Prospect Park District Friendship Park Conservatory all day long for the whole family!

Sunday, October 12, 2003:

11:00 a.m.: Norwegian Church Service, Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church, 2614 N. Kedzie Boulevard, Chicago. IL Phone: 773 + 252 - 7335

12:30 p.m.: Wreath Laying Ceremony Leif Eriksson Statue in nearby Humboldt Park

Reception immediately following at The Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church.
Except for food purchased on Saturday from local Scandinavian vendors, all programs are free.
Additional information: Please call John H. Hofteig (847 + 551 - 4400 Ext 132) or E-Mail:"

We look forward to having ICELANDERS represent their early relatives, Leif and Friends!

Friday, April 25, 2003

April 2003

From the President’s Desk

Once again we are having a hard time to get service from the Vice Consul, Mr. Halikias. The General Consul lives and works in Washington DC so the Vice Consul is supposed to service Icelanders in this area. Well, elections are coming up in Iceland on the 10th of May and many of us would like to exercise our right to vote. The location of the office is in a far South suburb, which is a long commute for most of us and inaccessible by public transportation. Our plan was to vote on a Saturday so everyone interested could do so at the same time. That would save time for the Vice Consul and more people would vote, coming from the North and West suburbs. It looks like this is not going to happen. The Vice Counsel is ignoring us and does not return phone calls. So, if you would like to vote you have to take some time off and go during office hours. This is a back lag from the last elections - then he opened his office on a Saturday. I informed the Embassy of Iceland about the situation on the 2nd of April with an email directly to the Ambassador. They followed up with the Vice Consul who promised he would do everything he could to accommodate us. Well, I have placed five phone calls to his voice mail since then and, sadly, gotten no response.

Since the Vice Consul has no interest in the Icelandic community in Chicago it is my suggestion that he resigns. That would put a pressure on the government to do something for us and might result in a better service for those in need. We have many “horror” stories of people trying to get passport service, voting, etc., not to mention that we have invited him and his counterpart to take part in our activities, to which they have never responded. Finally, it is embarrassing to get questions from the Scandinavian community here about this situation and have to say that the General Consul for Iceland lives and works in Washington. Iceland is never represented officially in anything going on in Chicago. All the work that is done on behalf of the Icelandic Association of Chicago is all voluntary work and even though we try to take part in as many things as possible the Icelandic Consul for Chicago should live in Chicago, or at least near by!
Einar Steinsson, President

Breaking News - Vote in Absentia

Icelandic Parliamentary Elections

The Vice Consul just called us agreeing to open his office one Saturday for us to vote in absentia. We are planning a field trip on the 19th, next Saturday at 11 am. Please call Einar if you would like to join us since we will have to let them know how many are coming (773.489.4621). Elections in Iceland are on May 10. If April 19th does not suit you, you can also make an appointment with the Vice Consul’s office to vote during regular business hours. Vice Consul Halikias office is at 15750 S. Harlem Ave. Suite 28, Orland Park, IL 60611, Tel: 708-429-1126.

Association Affairs

From the Editor

Many of you have now seen Roman Polanski´s film The Pianist which was nominated for and won several Academy Awards last month. It is a powerful tale of a Jewish musician who literally stays alive due to his talent and the film is a great addition to the long list of films, books, music, plays etc based on the Holocaust.

“Tár úr Steini” or “Tears of Stone” is an Icelandic “Holocaust movie” from 1995 which is based on a period in the life of the Icelandic musician Jón Leifs (1899-1968) who lived in Berlin in the 1930. His wife was of Jewish descent which is thought to have been one of the main reason his prosperous career in Germany as a composer and conductor came to a grinding halt in the late 1930´s and early 1940´s. The following is a quote from a movie review by J. Berardinelli “...Like almost every well-constructed Holocaust drama, Tears of Stone is ultimately about sacrifice and loss. No one, not the Jewish Anna or the Aryan Jon, escapes from Hitler's reign unscathed. Jon does what he has to do to save his family, but, ironically, loses them because of his actions. And, while this film lacks the gut-wrenching emotional impact of a Schindler's List (Tears of Stone is more melodramatic than hard-hitting), it forces us once again to confront the blackest era of modern history…”

You can read about Jón Leifs and even listen to his music through the website I particularly recommend some of the works he wrote after the death of his daughter, Líf: Torrek op. 33a for voice and piano, Requiem op. 33b for mixed chorus, Elegies-In Memoriam op. 35 (all composed 1947), and the string quartet Vita et Mors op. 36 (1948-51).

Finally, from an article on Mr Leifs by Ingolfsson musicologist at Harvard University: “…In recent years Jón Leifs has become recognized as the most important and original composer of Icelandic music in the twentieth century… Leifs´s creation of a national style in the early twenties was a radical departure from convention. The small number of native musicians trained in composition in the early years of the century had for the most part neglected folk music as a source for their works, and they treated Leifs´s ideas with skepticism, if not outright scorn. There is, indeed, much that is primitive in Leifs´s music; although there are moments of great expressive beauty in his works, they often have a harsh, rugged, and austere character. In fact, Leifs occasionally attempted to describe in music the severe and often desolate landscape of his native country, including volcanoes, geysers, icebergs, and waterfalls.”

Þorrablót 2003

Again, great Þorrablót this year. Thanks to everyone who contributed to making it what it was. Fifty four purchased tickets for a total of $2,285. Raffle tickets were sold for $788 with a total income of $3,073. Expenses were roughly $3,600, overall loss of about $500. The musicians were very well received and the food, both the Þorrafood and the catered food was outstanding. Congratulations everyone!

Þorrablót 2004

The date for next year's Þorrablót has been set for Saturday, February 21, 2004. According to the rather new tradition the Þorrablót should be held downtown or closer to the water next year. However, no place has been reserved at this point. We would like to raise the question whether it would be possible to find a location more in-between the suburbs and downtown. This location should be accessible by public transportation since not everyone has the luxury of an automobile. We are looking for a reasonably priced place, which can host about 100 people, has space for some dancing, and, most importantly, will allow us to bring our Icelandic food and the Black Death! We have been paying rent up to $500. Please notify board members if you have ideas, otherwise, we will probably settle for the Swedish-American Museum.

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. Special thanks to Binna and Bud for donating tickets to the Skybox at the United Center, Stella for the gravlax, it was very good. Thank to the firms, Skífan for CD’s, The Blue Lagoon, Bautinn Restaurant, and Icelandair.

Icelandic Lessons

This January I launched off my pioneered Icelandic language class with 7 enthusiastic students. For 10 weeks we met at my house once a week for two hours and tackled subjects like pronunciation, grammar, declension, vocabulary, writing, etc., and, of course Icelandic culture and customs. We had great fun and as a result I have decided to go ahead and offer classes next fall. If you're interested please contact me by email or phone 773-489-4621

Gleðilega páska!
Lena Hallgrimsdóttir

News You Can Use

Sigurþór Heimisson at Steppenwolf Studio Theatre

An Icelandic Actor, Sigurthor Heimisson is currently performing in Seagull
at Steppenwolf Studio Theatre.

REDMOON THEATER is proud to announce the extension


Presented by Redmoon Theater in association with Steppenwolf Theatre
Adapted & directed by Jim Lasko


Inspired by Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull," Redmoon Theater brings its visionary style to this stage classic about chasing fame, artistic satisfaction and the one person you can not have. This premiere production features mechanically ingenious objects that extend and reveal Chekhov's well-known characters in wholly unexpected ways.

"Gracefully accomplished...full of visual wit."
-Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

"Transfixing and profoundly zany...A work of beautifully unfolding
magic and psychological insight."
-Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times

We are delighted to invite you to take advantage of our special offer.
2-for-1 ticket on the following dates: Sunday, April 20, 3:00 pm, Thursday, April 24, 7:30 pm Thursday, May 1, 7:30 pm.

For reservations, call 312-335-1650 and mention promotion code "IO". Limited availability. Tickets must be purchased by noon the day of the performance to receive this discount. Not valid for previously purchased tickets or with any other offer.

Location: Steppenwolf Studio Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted Street, Chicago

Letter to the Association

Our Leif Erikson Day committee was formed by the Norwegian National League but is intended to include members from all Scandinavian organizations. It probably should be under the auspices of the Icelandic groups. We now have Les and Lois Amack (Bjornson Male Chorus), Ted and Judy Torgersen (Skjold Lodge, Sons of Norway), Kirsten Lane (Swedish Consul, Swedish American Museum), and Linda Steffensen (Danish Pioneer) on the committee. We have met only once, at the Friendship Park Conservatory, where we were assured by Karen Blair of the Mt. Prospect Park District that we have Sunday, Oct. 11, for our celebration, and we will have their full cooperation and use of the entire facility.

We have contacted Steve Koivula of the Finnish American Assn and Art Saarinen of the Finnish Chamber of Commerce and we are hoping to soon have a Finn on our committee. But, of course, it would be of extreme importance that we get someone from the Icelandic community to help us. This is, I believe, the one-thousandth anniversary of Icelander Leif Eriksen's discovery and it should be as outstanding as we can make it.

So far we have had time to line up only a couple of participants: Bjornson Male Chorus and the Vesterheim Museum are the main ones. We're having our second meeting this Thursday, March 6, at 11 a.m. for lunch at the restaurant in IKEA in Schaumburg.
We hope you will be able to help us.

Les Amack

17. júní, Iceland´s Independence Day

"17. júní" Pot-Luck Picnic Party. This year we are celebrating “17. júní” at 12 noon on Saturday, June 14th, 2003 with a picnic/barbeque in Evanston.

We have reserved tables and grills in Elliot Park by the Lake, between Greenleaf and Dempster Street. The location is easy to find, one of three picnic areas just of Hamilton south of a playground and tennis court.

Please bring something for the grill or other food, and beverages of your choice. There is no charge for the picnic, but members should bring food to share.

We look forward to seeing you and would appreciate a phone call or an email to Lóa (847 328 5390/ or Sonja (847 675 2091) if you plan to come.

Lake Shore Drive from south: Take Lake Shore Drive and N. Sheridan Road to Lee Street in Evanston. Turn right towards the Lake, when you get to the lakefront turn left and follow the lakefront park until you see us and/or of find a parking spot.

From I-94: Take Dempster exit East. Keep straight on Dempster to the Lake, then turn right and look for parking.

By train: Take the CTA Red Line North to Howard. Take Purple Line to Dempster (3 stops). When you exit the station at Dempster take a right towards Dempster Street where you take a left towards the Lake (10 minutes). Turn right at the Lake into the park and you can’t miss our tribe with their friends.

Metra train stops on Main Street. You exit the station on Main Street, take a right towards Chicago Avenue, where you head one block North to Lee Street, walk towards the Lake and when you get to the lakefront turn left and head North in the Park. You will find the place before you get to the playground by Dempster (15 minutes).

Saturday, January 25, 2003

January 2003


The Þorrablót will be held on February 22nd at the Gray´s Mill on 211 North River Street, Montgomery, Illinois (tel. 630.548.6755).

The Gray’s Mill is an old restored stone gristmill built in 1853, located on the picturesque Fox River in Montgomery. It is one of the most beautiful meeting facilities in the Western Suburbs and is listed on the National Register.

The Blót will begin promptly at 6.00 pm with gravlax, hákarl, brennivín and cocktails.

Traditional Þorra-food and American food from My Chef catering will be served.

Home made desserts and our famous raffle.

The bar will be open; this is not a BYOB event.

Again, the Icelandic music group “Hjónabandið” will be flown in from the Westfjords of Iceland. Hjónabandið consists of Árni and Erna who are diary farmers at Vaðlar in Önundarfjördur. Hjónabandið entertained us at the Þorrablót 2 years ago and their performance was outstanding. Therefore we decided to bring them back.

Tickets purchased in advance are $45 for members, $50 for non-members and $35 for students. Children 6-15 years pay $20 in advance, and children 5 years and younger are free of charge.

Ticket price at the entrance is $50 for members, $55 for non-members, $40 for students, and $25 for children.

Advance purchase of tickets must be made before February 16th. Please make checks payable to the Icelandic Association and mail to Anna María Kárdal 719 Wildflower Circle Naperville, IL 60540. If you have not paid the membership fee, please do so at the same time.

Van rides to and from Gray’s Mill will be available (see page 2).

Directions: I-88 West to Route 31 (West of Route 59 and past toll by Fox River). Exit Route 31 and travel south 1.6 miles to Illinois Avenue. Turn left (East), go over Fox River Bridge to the first stop-light: Broadway/Route 25, turn right (South). travel 3.4 miles to Mill Street, turn right and Grays Mill is the first building to the left.

If lost call Stella 630.788.7475 or Miguel 630.461.5922.

For overnight stay we recommend Comfort Suites (630.896.2800) downtown Aurora. It is next to W. Paytons Round house and about a block away from Hollywood Casino.
Further information regarding Gray´s Mill and My Chef can be found online at


It is very special to be an Icelander or of an Icelandic heritage and I am not saying that because I am Icelandic but because it is true! Icelanders are different in many ways and the gene pool has been proved to be very special. The island was isolated for so many years that that Icelanders are what is closest to the gene pool of the Vikings. I am not saying that the Vikings had the best genes to survive in modern times but they were definitely different and special. We are bringing the Icelandic culture and the specialty of the Icelandic people to Chicago and the surroundings by running the Icelandic Association. But the successfulness of this work we are doing depends on the activity of its members. And here comes my point: it is useless to put the energy in all these events if the members do not participate. We have had many attendees to all of our events in recent years but with the economy down and people staying home more than previous years we are worried.

The Þorrablót is coming up and it will be the best one to date – and we have had some good ones in previous years. But the cost is enormous since we are flying in musicians from Iceland, Hjónabandið, the farmers from the West fjords who entertained us two years ago. The sound will be great– we’ve made sure of that. We will bring the great Þorrafood – ok some of you do not eat sheep heads and other sheep delicates but we will have great American food also. The rotten shark will be there with Brennivín (The Black Death), and Gravlax (salmon) and all the trimmings. We also have the famous raffle with tickets to Iceland, Skybox seats to Bulls games, Icelandic CDs, products from the Blue Lagoon, and much more.

So bring yourself, your family, your friends and enemies (they will become your friends after the Þorrablót). We are going to have a great time!

I’ll see you there – I’m counting on it.

Einar Steinsson, President


Rides will be available to and from the Þorrablót, Saturday February 22nd with pick-up and drop-off points to include Evanston and the near Northside of Chicago and Downtown. Additional stops can be arranged. The costs will be equitably shared by all the riders and will be around $12.

PLEASE CONTACT John H. Hofteig to make reservations as soon as possible:

WORK Phone #: 847 + 551 - 4400 Ext 132 (Voice-Mail is also available)

CELL Phone #: 847 + 612 - 0330 (Voice-Mail is also available)


Please provide telephone number(s), e-mail address, and street address for the desired pick-up/drop-off point.


The Þorrablót dates back to the 19th century when people began to move to the towns for work. There you could meet your relatives and eat food from home.

When Iceland was a colony of Denmark, it was forbidden to use salt in Iceland (that way Icelanders had no way of preserving the fish and could therefore not make money by exporting fish). Instead, for perservation food was smoked, dried, putrefied or pickled. Most of the Þorrafood is made that way and then kept in a barrel with sour whey which was like the refrigerator of the house. Many Icelanders still eat oat meal with sour or non-sour blóðmör or lifrapylsa for breakfast. Other types of food preserved like that are for example hrútspungar (ram’s testicles), súr hvalur (whale fat) and lundabaggi (puffin roll).

Harðfiskur is fish that is dried and not cooked in any other way. Today it is sold in stores and sometimes cinemas as candy or popcorn. Also, it is often use a snack while traveling especially during long hiking trips since it is light to carry and full of energy. Shark is usually inedible. Buried in the sand on the beach for few months in winter, it rots in a special way which gives it the special taste similar to strong cheese. This is the putrefied shark we get to taste on the Þorrablót usually with Brennivín. Attempts have been made to market fermented shark in Europe as fish cheese (fromage de poisson). The fermented shark has a very strong odor. In the month of Þorra, if you see a plastic bag hanging out the window it is most likely the residence of an Icelander who has a non-Icelandic roommate or spouse that cannot stand the stench of the fermentation.

Svið are sheep heads that are burned to burn the wool and then boiled. The eyes are the favorite of many but most of the meat is in the tongue or the jaw. There is a small bone in the tongue, the málbein or talk bone. If a child has not started talking, it is an old superstition to break the bone; otherwise the child will be mute.

With the food is served rófustappa (mashed rutabaga), kartöflumús (mashed potatoes) and flatbrauð (rye bread). Traditionally, no vegetables are served except for green beans.

Recipe for Icelandic Brennivín: 1 liter of neutral brandy/spirits with 35% alcohol, 40 gm of caraway seed (ca. 30-40 gm of powder sugar. Put the seeds and the sugar into the bottle. Wait for 3 weeks until the sugar has dissolved completely. Sieve the liquid through coffee filter paper into an empty, clean, stylish-green bottle. Serve and “Skál”.


This directory is based on your answers on the census form, wether you want to be included and what information you would like to be available. Obviously this is not a complete directory of everyone in the Association, but it is a start. Hopefully, this is useful to someone.

Bieltvedt,Arnor. 633 Elder Lane, Winnetka, IL 60093 - E-mail:

Birkis, Sigurður and Bonnie. 187 A.S.York Road, Elmhurst, IL 60402 - Tel. 630.516.0591. E-mail:

Björnsson, Leifur and Rita Stepnitz. 5445 N. Sheridan Rd. # 2810 Chicago, IL 60640-1941 - Tel. 773 334 1445. E-mail:

Bogner, Hugrún & Nick. 2023 Maple Street, Des Plaines, IL 60018 - Tel. 847 334 1445. E-mail:

Clemensen, Guðríður J. 1412 Randall Rd., Independence, MO 64055-1608 - Tel. 816 254 6795

Clendening, Unnur. 612 S. Front Salina, KS 67401 - Tel. 785 827 6465

Dr.Egilsson,Valur and Ólöf. Summer: 11966 Tuliptree Lane, Huntley, IL 60142 Winter: 5380 N. Ocean Blvd., Singer Island, FL 33404. - Tel (summer) 847 515 7094, (winter) 561 881 8644. E-mail:

Fulk, Robert. 817 S. Stull Ave, Bloomington, IN 47401- Tel. 812 333 1698. E-mail:

Gunnarsdóttir,Theodóra and Garðar Gíslason. 2128 Duffers Lane, Evansville, IN 47725 - Tel. 812 867 8589. E-mail:

Hansen,Carl and Christi

Hansson, Gunnar and Suzanne Gessner. 5706 S. Blackstone Ave # 3, Chicago, IL 60637 - Tel. 773 256 0156. E-mail:

Haraldsson, Jóhann and Gréta Pape. 425 Kedzie Street # 2, Evanston, IL 60202-2363 - Tel. 847 475 2329. E-mail: and

Heiðar,Katrín and G. Steinar Guðmundsson. 2923 Portsmith Ct Naperville, IL 60564 - Tel. 630 922 6502. E-mail: and

Heimisson, Sigurþór and Ólöf K. Sigurðardóttir. 1006 Hinman Ave # 3,Evanston, IL 60202 - E-mail: and

Hofteig, Jón Halldór. P.O.Box 762, Glenview, IL 60025-0762 - Tel. 847 612 0330 (h) and 847 551 4400x132 (w). E-mail:

Jóelsdóttir,Anna and Tom Fox. 904 W. Gunnison Str. # 3 E, Chicago, IL 60640 - Tel. 773 271 4599. E-mail:

Johnson, Dorothy. 128 E. Van Buren Street, Villa Park, IL 60181 - Tel. 630 832 7679

Johnson, Harald Valdimar. 303 E. Washington, Bensenville, IL 60106-3519 - Tel. 630 238 8054

Krengel, Marjorie T. 6211 S. Maple Street # 302, Marengo, IL 60152 - Tel. 815 568 6761

McCarthy, Jóna & Joe. 821 Gleneagle Lane, Northbrook, IL 60062 - Tel. 847 714 1338

McCarty, Dianne. 328 Coventry Ct, Aurora, IL 60504 - Tel. 630 851 4073

Miller, Phillip M. 2011 W. Welwyn, Des Plaines, IL 60018 - Tel. 773 794 4801

Ólafsson, Ásgeir and Anna María Kárdal

Porter, Binna and Bud. 1350 Tall Oaks Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188 - Tel. 630 231 5951. E-mail:

Shaw,Joanne & Lawrence. 147 N. Buckingham Drive, Prestbury-Aurora, IL 60506 - Tel. 630 466 5555. E-mail:

Solis, Stella & Miguel. 3211 Hopewell Drive, Aurora, IL 60504-7041 - Tel. 630 236 7475. E-mail:

Steinsson, Einar and Lena Hallgrímsdóttir - E-mail:

Steinþórsdóttir,Margret and Rodrigo Caballero. - E-mail:

Sveinsson, Jim & Carol. 1028 Peterson Ave, Park Ridge, IL 60068-5183

Thors,Gunnar and Guðrún Vigdís Jónsdóttir. 200 Hart Hill Rd., Barrington,IL 60010 - Tel. 847 743 0863

Westerman, Lára & Leslie. 1606 20th Street Zion, IL 60099 - Tel. 847 731 3112. E-mail:

Wiche,Glen N.1415 N. Dearborn Parkway #7B Chicago, IL 60610-1570. - E-mail:


Woodruff, William.414 Pepperidge Ct Aurora, IL 60506-5223 - Tel. 630 897 7173. E-mail:

Wyrick,Margrét L. 3225 W 300 N Shelbyville, IN 46176 - Tel. 317 398 3176


Gabriele Stich - Coincidentia Oppositorum

Anna Joelsdottir –
“I am too far away”

Artists: Gabriele Stich & Anna Joelsdottir
Exhibition Dates: January 24, 2003 – March 4, 2003
Medium: painting
Opening Reception: January 24, 5:30-9:00 p.m.
Gallery Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 12:30-5:30 p.m.
Saturday 12:00-5:00 p.m.

The Contemporary Art Workshop is proud to present the work of Gabriele Stich and Anna Joelsdottir. New work from these two abstract painters will be presented in this exciting exhibition. Please note: The opening reception will feature “AvantRetro,” performance poetry by Al DeGenova & Charlie Rossiter.

Gabriele Stich’s paintings are both idiosyncratic and universal. They are abstractions, self-referential and conscious of the process of their own making. Her imagery, graphic and gestural, is primarily intuitive in origin, coming from what she describes as a “deep inner well of emotion.” Interspersing layers of paint with sand, pebbles, and dry pigment, she works to create, as she says, “a sense of beauty through texture and color.”

Ms. Stich is for the most part a self-taught artist, who counts among her influences the American painters Johns and Rauschenberg, the Abstract Expressionists, and the painter E. Schumacher, with whom she studied in her native Germany.

Anna Joelsdottir uses abstraction to deal with themes of disconnect, rupture, and separation from the familiar. Her paintings confront the viewer with spaces which are chaotic, turbulent. They use the language of abstraction to create analogous situations to those that we feel when we are separated from our “culture of origin.” Thus they imply a kind of travel, where a “homeless narrative” searches for what the artist calls, “a place, a center.”

Ms. Joelsdottir, a native of Iceland, is a graduate of the MFA program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This year she will be featured in a solo exhibition at Chicago’s Fassbender gallery, and will be an artist-in-residence at the Hafnarborg Art Museum in Harfarfjorour, Iceland.

The Contemporary Art Workshop is a non-profit arts organization founded in 1949 by sculptor John Kearney, among others. The Workshop houses 21 private studios, two galleries, and a large open sculpture work area. To learn more about the C.A.W. visit us online at


Again, we remind you that The Reykjavík Tríó will perform at North Park University on Saturday afternoon, February 8, 2003 at 3 pm in Anderson Chapel. The program will include works by Beethoven, Dvorák and Jón Nordal.


As advertised in last news letter you can now learn Icelandic! 7 students signed up for the first course, which will run through mid April. We're having lots of fun "wrestling" with the old language: all those cases, different forms of verbs, strange letters and sounds, and the same words meaning lots of different things. If you're interested in brushing up on your Icelandic or learn it from the scratch, please contact me for information on upcoming courses. Lena 773-489-4621.