Icelandic Association of Chicago Volume No. 12 Issue No. 3 December 2010
From the President´s Desk
Farewell 2010 – Welcome 2011
Before we know it, 2011 will be here. In 2010 the economy is still in slow mode, especially back in the “old country” where many people are struggling. There are signs of improvement in Iceland but many Icelanders have left for greener pastures, Norway being a popular destination.
The latest news from Iceland is the national election of 25 citizens to serve as members on a Constitutional Assembly. These are regular folks whose task is to make suggestions to the parliament, Alþingi, on changes and/or additions to the current constitution. They are supposed to have completed their work by the 15th of April, 2011. Alþingi is not obliged to follow the assembly´s suggestions but will, at least, have to review -- for consideration -- what they come up with. Good move Iceland.
For our Association, 2011 starts by taking down the Christmas Tree at the Museum of Science and Industry, January 15th at 1PM. Everyone is welcome.
We will celebrate the Þorrablót at Swithiod House on February 19th, the same venue as last year.
I hope you are looking forward to a great 2011 and I wish you Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas and Gleðilegt Ár.
Einar Steinsson President
From the Editor
We have a lot to report at the end of 2010. First of all, please join us by congratulating Larry and Joni Shaw for becoming Honorary Lifetime Members of the IAC Chicago. They have contributed endless passion and hours of volunteer work to the association. Einar, our president will be presenting them with their awards this month.
Several members came to the annual Christmas Tree Decoration at the Museum of Science and Industry in October, followed by an open board meeting. We discussed our annual þórrablót. Lena has put all the important information for us together in this newsletter (see below). We also discussed membership and the member form, and here is how you can pay for your membership, þórrablót and if you´d like to make a donation:
We love to hear stories from our members. This time we are pleased to share Andrew and Sue´s Iceland travel story. Sue won a ticket to Iceland at this year's þórrablót raffle and Andrew joined her as they ended up having the time of their life on this trip. Please see the story below and read about their wonderful adventure to the homeland.
You will also find some interesting, additional information regarding the Snorri Program and something about Icelandic children´s literature in this newsletter.
This isn´t necessarily news, but I finally got around to reading Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley. A story about a young girl, Freya, from Connecticut whose mother brings her back to her family´s town Gimli in Canada every summer where Freya discovers a great deal about her Icelandic family history. It´s a dark tale about family and secrets interconnected between continents. I enjoyed it very much. Not just because it´s an interesting story, but also identifying with the draw people have to their own history and one´s identity which is often intertwined with that nordic island.
The Þorrablót will be at the Svithiod House (www.svithiod.org), located at 5518 W. Lawrence Avenue, close to I-90/94 and accessible by public transportation. Parking is plentiful and the building is easily accessible at street level. The ballroom seats 80 guests for dinner, which we know will sell out. The format will be similar to past successful years – we’ll open the house at 6 pm and start with a welcome punch and gravlax and for the brave of heart, Brennivin and rotten shark, followed by a buffet style dinner with delicious Þorrafood, flown in from Iceland, and some traditional and less traditional dishes prepared by members.
We’ll have our famous and ever popular raffle where one can, for example, win a ticket from Icelandair to the Old Country plus many more prizes from Iceland. The great musician Sveinbjörn Grétarsson or better known as Bjössi in Greifarnir (a popular band in Iceland) will entertain us throughout the evening and make sure everyone hits the dance floor.We’re delighted to have Bjössi back and heard it through the grapewine he’s been practicing a brand new Þorra-song, dedicated to Chicago. :-)Of course, the Þorra Choir will sing, as will everyone else. We have sent an invitation to our Ambassador Hjálmar W Hannesson and his wife, Anna Birgis, to be our guests of honor.
(remember to fill out and include the census form)
Please note we will not sell tickets at the door.
Price of tickets:
70 and older: $40
12-18 and Students: $40
11 and younger: Free
We’re excited about our Þorrablót and look forward to a memorable Icelandic night with all of you good folks.
We received an e-mail from an Icelandic children´s author Guðrún Kristín Magnúsdóttir. She has written a series of books for children and youth over the years published under
Freyjukettir (Norræn menning). Her work can mostly be found under the European amazon.co.uk, amazon.deat print cost only, her work is non profit.
The Snorri Project
– ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME –
Since 1999 The Snorri Program has offered 171 young individuals to participate in a 6-week diverse program in Iceland: 2 weeks in Reykjavík studying Icelandic, 3 weeks with relatives and 1 week exploring Icelandic nature.
Why? To strengthen the bonds between Iceland and North America
Who? Available for ages 18-28 of Icelandic descent
When? June11 - July 22, 2011 (approximate dates)
Deadline: January 14, 2011
12-16 will be selected by the Snorri Foundation
Since September 2003 the Snorri Foundation has accepted 88 individuals to participate in a 2-week cultural program; an ‘in-depth’ program that you will get so much more out of than you’d get as an ordinary tourist. Relatives, history, culture, nature and everything in between!
Who? Anyone over 30 who’s interested in Iceland
When? August 18 - 31, 2011
Deadline: January 31, 2011
15-20 individuals will get an opportunity to participate
Website for both programs; fees*, application form & information
Please note*: Both programs are non-profit. Grants are offered to all younger participants.
Surviving a huge sandstorm and other adventures in Iceland
by Andrew Scholberg
Secretary of the Icelandic Association of Chicago
It was a shock when my wife, Sue, won the drawing for a round-trip ticket to Iceland at last February’s Þorrablot. Neither of us had been to Iceland before. What a fantastic prize. We spent a week in Iceland in late September.
On Saturday, our first day in Reykjavik, we walked around town and came across the Viking settlement exhibit near downtown. We went inside to view the excavation. The rain was no problem because Sue and I wore our rain jackets. While walking past a store window we saw a painting of a puffin by Vaddy, similar to the puffin painting Sue won at the 2009 Þorrablot.
Later in the afternoon Sue and I attended our first Catholic Mass in Icelandic at the Reykjavik cathedral. Only about 40 people attended it. Sue and I stayed at the Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, which has a wonderful spa that includes a hot tub, steam room, and sauna. The young Icelanders in the hot tub generously shared their bottle of Brennavin (also known as “Black Death”) and also handed me a beer.
On Sunday, we went to the cultural museum that displays the saga manuscripts. After touring the modern art museum we visited the national museum, which exhibits the sacred vestments worn by my direct ancestor Jon Arason, Iceland’s last Catholic bishop who was beheaded in 1550 for his faith. Later in the day I had an excellent time at the outdoor swimming pool about two blocks from the Blu Saga Hotel. I soaked in the hot tubs, which Icelanders call “hot pots,” and relaxed in the steam room. It was refreshing to cool off in the wind and rain, and then to go back into a hot pot or re-visit the steam room. I also took the opportunity to practice my French with some children from France who were playing in the pool.
Fortunately the weather cleared up on Monday because that’s when we took the Golden Circle tour by bus, which included stops at a major geothermal power station, the spectacular Gullfoss waterfall, an impressive geyser named Strokur (which blows every three minutes), and the rugged and historic Þingvellir National Park. Þingvellir is the five-mile-wide rift valley where the European and North American tectonic plates are pulling apart. It overlooks a gorgeous lake. It was at Þingvellir that that the early Icelanders met in front of the Lögberg (Law Rock) to resolve their lawsuits and determine public policies, including the mass conversion of Iceland to Christianity in the year 1000 A.D. Sue and I could hardly believe how beautiful Iceland is. We were utterly amazed.
Tuesday we rented a 5-speed VW Polo and drove to Akureyri, near the arctic circle. We made good time, although we had to come to a complete stop to let some sheep cross Highway 1 (Iceland’s main highway). We had a late lunch at Lena Hallgrimsdottir’s restaurant and met her mother. Because the weather was fine, Lena’s father was out golfing that day, practicing his swing at the highest 18-hole golf course in the world by latitude. We stayed near Akureyri at the historic Hrafnagil farm that dates back to the Viking Age.
Wednesday we drove to Dettifoss (Europe’s largest waterfall) and Iceland's “Grand Canyon” located in the northeast part of the country. It was a clear day, and the fall colors were beautiful. But as we drove farther east toward the falls and the canyon, the landscape changed into a barren, desolate moonscape where you couldn’t even see a blade of grass. It was actually on this moonscape where the Apollo astronauts practiced their moon walk. To get to the gigantic waterfall we had to cross a one-lane suspension bridge and drive on a rough dirt road for 29 kilometers, but it was worth it. The falls and canyon took our breath away. Just as we were driving away form the falls, a huge sandstorm hit us. We never expected this. We were literally in the middle of nowhere, and we were running low on gas. The sandstorm impaired our visibility and almost forced us to stop at times. But we made it out of the storm and got to a gas station on fumes. Later we saw the boiling mud and some weird lava formations around Myvatn, one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever seen. Sue and I both had a good soak in the warm waters of the outdoor “Blue Lagoon of the north” — the geothermally heated Nature Baths near Myvatn. Sue’s teeth were chattering until she got into the warm water up to her neck. We had the whole Lagoon to ourselves for a while. Only one other couple showed up while we were there. On the way back to our farm accommodations I took some pictures of Goðafoss -- an amazing place. Goðafoss, of course, is the beautiful waterfall where, in the year 1000 A.D., a great Icelandic chieftain threw his gods over the falls to make a clean break with paganism and officially embrace Christianity.
Thursday we drove up the west coast of Eyjafjörður (“Island Fjord”), visited Akureyri’s botanic garden, and explored the area south of Akureyri. We also visited the Akureyri library where our son Joseph had worked when he participated in the Snorri Program for young adults. (Snorri was the first European baby born in North America, as described in the medieval Vinland Saga.) We met Joseph’s boss, who remembered him as a good worker. We had hoped to visit the relatives Joseph had stayed with in Akureyri but were unsuccessful in contacting them.
Friday we drove back to the Blu Saga Hotel in Reykjavik and visited the fabled warm waters of the Blue Lagoon of the south. That night at the Humarhúsið(“The Lobster House”) I told the waitress that I’m just about the only person in America who can say Eyjafjallajökull, the impossible-to-pronounce volcano that shut down airports throughout Europe earlier this year. After asking me to repeat it, she agreed that my pronunciation was correct. Sue and I flew home on Saturday we were already planning our next trip to Iceland. She, too, can now say Eyjafjallajökull, which means “Island Mountain Glacier.” Do we recommend Iceland as a tourist destination? Yes!
Farsælda Frón Icelandic Association of Chicago Volume No. 12 Issue No.2 September 2010
From the President’s Desk
Back to the Future
It’s been a good summer even though it’s been hotter and more humid than I remember for the 13 years we’ve lived in Chicago. We’ve been outside as much as possible playing golf and going to the beach. The summer isn’t over and I refuse to say so even after Labor Day. I know the pool and the beach will close but the weather in Chicago can be like the best Icelandic summer day until late October, so go out and enjoy it.
Looking back we had a great 17th of June celebration on the 12th of June with a good turnout and the Icelandic Hot Dogs. We had to move the celebration to our house as storms were lingering around Chicago and the last thing we wanted was to be stuck by the Lake in a thunderstorm. Good times were enjoyed as well by everyone at The 6th Greater Chicago Icelandic Open on the 1st of August. An excellent day which you can read more about in this newsletter. I hope the 7th Open will be even better.
The Association will run the beverage booth at the Scandinavian Day on the 12th of September in Vasa Park. I hope most of you can make it there. It’s always great fun to go to Vasa Park and a good place to take children and participate in all the activities. Lena and I will be there and participate in the opening ceremony.
The General Meeting will be held in conjunction with putting up the Icelandic Christmas Tree at the Museum of Science and Industry on the 24th of October. We’ll decorate the tree at 1 PM but we’re still looking for a venue near the museum for the meeting. General Meetings are OPEN to everyone. I hope many of you can show up - we’ll let you know the details by email soon.
So that’s my look back and into the future. I hope the past was good and the future will be even better for you.
Einar Steinsson President
From the Editor:
I hope that everyone has enjoyed their summer and is looking forward to their kids´ new school year, wearing long sleeves again soon or at least the new fall programming on TV.
Hope to see you at Vasa Park and the Christmas Tree decorating at the museum!
The 6th Greater Chicago Icelandic Open
We had a great time August 1st and the weather was superb, no storms like last year. The team who took home the trophy and the medals for 1st place were Ólafur Ólafsson and Tom Hoover. We had four teams with even score for the 2nd and 3rd place and had a playoff on the putting green. After a most exciting putting competition, Lena Hallgrímsdóttir and Einar Steinsson, took home the silver and Michael Gallagher and Paul Sorensen the bronze. Ólafur also won the prizes for the Closest to the Pin and the Longest Putt. Lena won the Longest Drive for women and Gunnar Thors won the Longest Drive for men.
I would like to thank everyone for playing and hopefully I’ll see all of you next year.
Ólafur Ólafsson and Tom Hoover
Einar Steinsson and Lena Hallgrímsdóttir
Michael Gallagher and Paul Sorensen
News From Vasa Park
The 31st Annual Scandinavian Day Festival is Sunday, September 12, 2010 - 9:00AM to 5:00PM
The church service begins the day at 10:00 AM. Joni Shaw will be the organist for that service. The opening ceremonies begin about 11:00 AM. Einar and Lena will carry the Icelandic flag in the procession and the national anthem of each of the 5 countries will be sung. We will once again have a booth selling pop and water. If you haven't already volunteered to help PLEASE contact Joni Shaw (email@example.com) to set up a time to sell our wares. The proceeds benefit our scholarship fund, which is growing thanks to this event. There is no planning or hard work involved here, but a committment of time and it is just fun to be together. There will be many traditional Scandinavian food booths and a large variety of vendors . The emphasis for this year is Nordic authors and who has more famous authors than Iceland? There will be entertainment all afternoon including Ole and Sven with their humorous music, many ethnic musical groups and dancers, pony rides and Viking games. Once again, there are many activities for the children to enjoy and, new this year, historical events for our learning pleasure. Admission: Adults $10.00- Children 12 and under Free - FREE PARKING For free entry, wear full traditional Scandinavian costume
Midsommar... celebration was June 19th. It is a smaller, more intimate event than Scandinavian Day. Weatherwise it was a perfect day! Joni and Larry manned the beverage booth and added about $100.00 to the scholarship fund. The children especially had a good time with crafts, games and pony rides. Before the picnic Joni taught one of the kids how to do Icelandic Krila and that child then taught this fingerknitting craft to others during the afternoon session. Word was that it was very successful. Dark of the Moon Contra-Band performed and there was a retro dance party late afternoon until dark - the kids never stopped dancing. It was a delightful day in all respects - tho Icelanders "don't do Midsommar" - it was just fun being in a Nordic mode.
Directions: Route 31, South Elgin, Illinois - along the beautiful Fox River 7 miles south of I-90 Northwest Tollway or 5 miles North of Il. Rt. 64 North Ave.
HANDS-ON HISTORY AT VASA PARK!
A live-action timeline, honoring and illustrating the long history of Scandinavian immigration to America, will again be a featured exhibit of this year's Scandinavian Day festival.
Well-informed and entertaining historical 8e-enactors will explain and demonstrate the clothing, tools, weapons, and day-to-day life of Leif Ericsson's Newfoundland explorers, the 17th century colony of New Sweden, and 19th century Scandinavian immigrants.
Specially featured, and new this year, will be an exciting group of Civil War enactors from Wisconsin who portray the famous 15th Wisconsin "Scandinavian" Regiment. This Union regiment, composed mainly of recent immigrants from Norway, Sweden and Denmark , won personal praise from Abraham Lincoln for skill, courage, loyalty. sacrifice and service to their adopted nation. As during the Civil War, the men will demonstrate their period manual of arms and musket firing drill-to commands in both English and Norwegian!
Come Celebrate the Culture, Heritage & TraditionsofDenmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden at the
31st Annual Scandinavian Day Festival
“Celebrating Nordic Authors & The Tales of Scandinavia”
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2010
9 AM to 5 PM – RAIN OR SHINE
PRESENTED BY Scandinavian Day Festival Committee
VASA PARK, Route 31 along the Fox River, South Elgin, IL
7 miles South of 1-90 Northwest Tollway & 5 Miles North of IL Rt. 64 North Ave
Adults $10 – Children 12 & Under Free - FREE PARKING
FOR FREE ENTRY, wear full Traditional Scandinavian Costume
Traditional Scandinavian foods, crafts, games, gifts and entertainment, including the Sun City Concert Band, Ole & Sven with their humorous music from Madison, WI, Normennenes Singing Society and Leikarringen Heimhug Folk Dancers, FREE Pony Rides for the children, Living History Display, Sweden’s Telge Glima “Vikings” presenting Old Nordic Games & more. Church Service starts at 10 A.M.
The Snorri Sturluson Icelandic Fellowships for 2011
The fellowship is granted to writers, translators and scholars outside Iceland in the field of humanities and meant to enable them to stay in Iceland for at least three months in order to improve their knowledge of the Icelandic language, culture and society, as is stated in the attachment.
Please see the attached PDF for further information. Applications for the fellowship should be sent no later than 31 October 2010.
This is one of many jokes going around in Iceland. Britain: Iceland way are you sending us ash and closing down our airspace? Iceland: Is that not what you asked for? Britain: No Cash, not Ash, Cash! Iceland: Ups, sorry we do not have C in our alphabet.
The volcanic eruption is no laughing matter and neither is the financial meltdown but these are just some of the ways people use to copy with the fiascoes that continue to plague our lovely country. The latest news from Iceland is that we are prosecuting and jailing some of the bankers and business people who may have been responsible for the financial meltdown. A major clean up is our only hope to build a better society – anything less, we will end up with the same or similar system we had. Hopefully, Iceland will do it right this time.
Moving away from Iceland to our community I am happy to announce the Icelandic government appointed me the Vice Consul and at the same time the former Vice Consul, Aristotle Halikias, to the Consul. We met our Ambassador Hjálmar Hannesson and his wife Anna Birgisdóttir for lunch May 15th where Hjálmar gave us our "Letter of Ordinance" along with an identification card from the US State Department. The contact information for me and Mr. Halikias is below. Hopefully, this will strengthen our community and relationship with Iceland and Icelanders.
Have a great summer and, hopefully, I will see you at one of our events in the next few months. The first being the 17th of June celebration on the 12th where we will enjoy our specially imported and famous lamb hot dogs with Icelandic condiments such as “steiktur laukur & remólaði’. You can have ‘eina með öllu’ or two :)
From the Editor:
Happy upcoming summer everyone! I wanted to take this opportunity to invite everyone to share your Iceland story. If you want to tell us how you are related to the island or simply why you are interested in Iceland, please send me one to two paragraphs to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll include it in the next newsletter.
If you have not paid your membership please do so ASAP, so that you can enjoy the upcoming festivities. You can pay on our web page and fill out the membership form or send us a check with the form ( click on link to the left or use attached form). The membership fee is $25 for a family and $15 for an individual or student.
Iceland's Independence Day '17di júní'– by the Lake, Saturday June 12. Icelandic Hot Dogs!
All members are invited to celebrate our independence day at the same location as last year in Burnham Park around Promontory Point, known locally as The Point. Please join us for a picnic style festival and a fun afternoon by the Lake. The IAC will offer hot dogs from Iceland, Icelandic style. Last year, despite the cold weather, we had close to 40 people show up – This year we’re in for sunshine and hope to see all of you for ‘pylsa (pulsa) með öllu’! Otherwise, the event is a BYO so please bring drinks and other food or plate you'd like to share. Also, make sure to bring other picnic gear: blankets, lawn chairs, sunscreen, umbrellas... We'll meet at 3PM, Saturday June 12 and, of course, we'll have a parade with flags and balloons. A beach with a life guard is close by for those who want to bring swim suits and go for a dive. Sign up by emailing email@example.com or call 773-489-4621. Directions and Parking: The Point is off 55th Street, East of Lake Shore Drive (LSD). Use 5500 S Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60637 for driving directions (mapquest.com; google, etc.). You’ll find a parking lot on 55th street, by Bar Loui, or you can park on the street. The walk to the Point takes about 6 minutes through a tunnel, which passes under Lake Shore Drive at the east end of 55th street. Upon emerging from the tunnel you’ll see a statue and a fountain. Turn right and walk south until you see our flag. We’ll try to find a spot as close to the field house as possible. For more information, photos, and the history of the Promontory Point, check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Promontory_Point_(Chicago)
The 6th Greater Chicago Icelandic Open August 1st @ 2:00PM
We sold out again last year with 32 players who all showed up but then The Greater Chicago Icelandic Open had to be postponed due to rain. This is the first time we have had this happen and hopefully the last. We did play two weeks later and had a great time. Martin and Jessica Brunback took first place, Goran Aronsson and Eve Keepings the second, and Kathy and Stephanie Mehl won the third place. Brandon Burk won the closest to the pin and the longest putt, Martin won the longest drive for men, and Stephanie Mehl won the longest drive for women. This year we have moved the tee times up to 2PM on Sunday the 1st of August and again we will have limited spots. $38 per player includes cart, prizes, and a sleeve of golf balls. We are securing the yet to be won Hole in One prize, a ticket to Iceland with Icelandair – maybe this will be the year...? The Greater Chicago Icelandic Open is a 9-hole best ball tournament in teams of two players, with many of the teams being a couple or a parent and a child. We give a trophy for first place, medals for 1st 2nd and 3rd places, plus various prizes for the Longest Drive men/women, Closest to the Pin, Longest Putt, and Hole in One. The tournament is held at Highland Woods golf course in Hoffman Estate. If you are interested email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or just send your check to Larry. We are also in the process of setting up a payment option on our web page.
Keep it in the short,
News from Vasa Park
Route 31, South Elgin, Illinois along the beautiful Fox River
7 miles south of 1-90 Northwest Tollway or 5 miles North of Il. Rt. 64 North Ave.
The Fifth Annual Scandinavian Midsommar Celebration is on Saturday, June 19, 2010 - 2:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Bring your own picnic basket and beverage or purchase Scandinavian clubs vending specialties, pop and water.
We will have a booth selling pop and Icelandic water. We can use all the help we can get in this booth. The proceeds benefit our Scholarship Fund and it is just a lot of fun proudly selling our wares. There are many events for children - games, crafts (Icelandic Krila), pony decorating and rides, musical entertainment - and - Vikings. The evening ends with a bonfire and Aquavit - a bonfire in your throat.
Admission is $5.00 for adults, children 12 and under are free and there is free parking on the grounds.
The 31st Annual Scandinavian Day Festival is Sunday, September 12, 2010 - 9.00 AM to 5.00 PM
This event begins with a church service and then a parade with flags carried by people in traditional dress culminating with soloists singing each national anthem. There are many more vendors at this event and the park often hosts around 2,000 in attendance. We will have the beverage booth for this celebration as well.
Admission is $10.00 for adults, children 12 and under are free and parking is free.
For free admission, wear full traditional Scandinavian dress or costume and spend a few minutes in the VIP/Culture tent sharing the significance and history of your attire.
These are both great events for kids - celebrating our Scandinavian ways. If you can come either time and could spare a few minutes, we need help in the beverage booth for both days. For midsommar I need brave souls to help me teach Krila (finger knitting) and for Scandinavian Day I need flag bearers for the parade and an anthem singer. Please contact Joni Shaw - Ammajoni@msn.com or 630-466-5555.
----IMPORTANT NOTICE TO ALL MEMBERS-----
Congratulations to the New Consul and the new Vice Consul for Iceland
Saturday the 15th of May our Ambassador Hjálmar Hannesson came from Washington to Chicago and appointed a new Consul and a new Vice Consul for Iceland. The new Consul is Mr. Aristotle Halikias and the new Vice Consul is Mr. Einar Steinsson.
All membership dues and þorrablót’s admissions should be paid via Paypal or sent to our treasurer Larry Shaw. 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 Membership Form to anyone interested in joining, or provide us with that person´s name and address. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Icelandic Association of Chicago 2010 Membership Form
Full Name of member/s____________________________________________
Name of child/children_____________________________________________