Thursday, December 22, 2016

IAC Newsletter December 2016

From the President’s desk
It’s not over but it was a blast.

I hope you had the opportunity to enjoy some of our activities this year and if not that you can make it to some of our events in 2017.  Lena and I are off to Iceland this week and very much looking forward to getting out of the cold to a warmer climate.  It is not a joke, Iceland has been much warmer than Chicago in the last few days and the forecast calls for the same.  But you never know with Icelandic weather, as most of you know. You can get five different types of weather in the same day, sun, snow, rain, wind and no wind.  We are looking forward to meeting family and friends in Hafnarfjörður, Seltjarnarnes, Reykjavík and Akureyri where I am hoping to do some skiing in Hlíðarfjall.  We will be back at the end of the month ready to start prepping for Þorrablót 2017.

Speaking of Þorrablót 2017, you can read the details elsewhere in the newsletter and about the Christmas Tree at the Museum, and our General Meeting.  Also in this newsletter a membership form that you need to fill out and send in with a check or you can renew your membership online. Same low price!  Do that early as once we open ticket sales for Þorrablót it will be for members only and two guests.  We will start general sales late January.

I hope all of you have a great holiday season with excellent food and drink, even though it is not sheep heads or rotten shark and brennivín.

Merry Christmas – Gleðileg Jól.

Einar Steinsson

From the Editor:
In this Newsletter we reflect on the IAC events of 2016 and start preparing for 2017 events including Thorrablot. As always, feel free to send me any suggestions on the newsletter look or content. Original articles on topics of interest to the Icelandic association are also welcome.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. I look forward to celebrating with family and friends in Iceland, in much milder weather than the recent negative Fahrenheit weather! I also look forward to the outdoor heated swimming pools and the magnificent fireworks on New Years Eve.

Kolla Kristjansdottir Fass

The General Meeting

The general meeting was at Snail Thai restaurant on November 13th 2016 immediately following the set-up of the Icelandic Christmas Tree at the Museum of Science and Industry. All officers and directors were re-elected. Association fees will be kept at same rate as previous years, $10 for individual and $20 for families. Thorrablot is scheduled for February 4th and preparations are going well. The new treasurer Erik Johnson gave an update of finances. 2016 went well, we made $87.70 from the Golf Event, $1,220.48 from the Thorrablot and $565 from water sales.

Renew or sign up for IAC Membership

It is that time of year again! You can renew your membership online. low price! Make sure to renew your membership early if you are planning to attend Þorrablót since it will be for members only and two guests.

If you prefer an emailed form that you can print out and sent with a check, please contact (

Taking Down the Christmas Tree and Thorrablot Meeting

We’ll take down the Christmas Tree at the Museum of Science and Industry, Sunday January 15, 2PM.  We’ll use this opportunity for a Thorrablot meeting.  Thorrablot is scheduled for February 4th at the Swedish Museum. Anyone who’s interested to help and participate with Thorrablot, welcome.  Please sign up with Lena at (

IAC Scholarship Program-2016 Update:

At our recent combined Icelandic Association of Chicago [IAC] AGM and open Board Meeting, 13-Nov-2016, in Hyde Park, the following information regarding our IAC Scholarship Program and Academic Liaison was discussed:
For the eighth consecutive year, we received a very generous allotment of IcelandicGlacialWater, donated by the vendor, for our annual beverage sales at Scandinavian Day 11-Sep-2016], at Vasa Park, South Elgin, IL, which with the help of many much-appreciated volunteers, we sold, along with assorted soda pop, for our Scholarship Fund, which now stands at approximately USD $ 4,500.00.
It was agreed that we would allocate approximately one-third of these funds for current applications for the following scholarship assistance:
At least one award at up to USD $ 750.00 to support any bona fide, Icelandic-related study at any relevant American, Canadian, or Icelandic cultural or academic institution OR participation in either the traditional six-week “total-Icelandic-immersion” program for young adults OR the two-week-long similar program for mature adults or retirees [], for enrollment in 2017, 2018, or 2019.
And up to two awards, each, at up to USD $ 375.00 to support any bona fide Icelandic-language study program [preference given to younger applicants], for enrollment in 2017, 2018, or 2019.  Substitutions within these eligible study options may be made, depending on the pool of qualified applicants.
Application forms, including the current IAC Scholarship Program Guidelines, will be posted on our website: and will be circulated to known potential applicants.  Review of all applications will be completed as they are received, with a goal of announcing approved applications at the Februrary, 2017 Þorrablót.

The current committee members of our IAC Scholarship Program remain:  Tryggvi Emilsson, Haukur Guðmundsson, Sonja Johnson, Joni Shaw, and the undersigned.  Anyone interested in working on or with our Committee and/or assisting with our fund-raising, currently primarily at the annual Scandinavian Day [next on Sunday, 10-Sep-2017] is encouraged to liase with the undersigned.
Inquires, suggestions, and applications are always welcome, by email to: ( or the undersigned [ ( ].    J.H.H.

Snorri Program
The Snorri Program Deadlines are rapidly approaching. If you are of Icelandic heritage and would like to explore Iceland, see the information below.

Snorri Program deadline: January 13, 2017
Snorri Plus deadline: January 20, 2017   Application forms, dates, grant info and more on (

Taking Down the Christmas Tree and Thorrablot Meeting 
Sunday, January 15th at 2PM
Museum of Science and Industry
Save the Date:
Thorrablot 2017
February 4th
Swedish Museum
Copyright © 2016 Icelandic Association Chicago, All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

May 2016

Gleðilegt sumar – Happy summer

21st of April was The First Day of Summer – Sumardagurinn Fyrsti in Iceland.  It is a public holiday with festivities all around the island.  Iceland has sixteen public holidays.  The next one is Fishermen’s Day – Sjómannadagurinn, on the 5th of June. It is celebrated every year and always on the first Sunday of June.  The Icelandic Association of Chicago has not been celebrating these holidays but that is something to think about!  Our next festival is Iceland’s Independence Day, 17th of June, which we will celebrate on the 11th at Jóhann Friðriksson‘s house in LaGrange Highlands.  Jóhann is one of IAC‘s newest members and graceously offered up his house for our picnic.  My in-laws imported the Icelandic Hot Dogs so we are all set. More info in the newsletter but I hope you can make it.

2016 started out with a bang for IAC.  We had a sold out Þorrablót the 19th of March at the Swedish American Museum, 130 attendees with our Ambassador Geir Haarde and his wife Inga Jóna Þórðardóttir as guests of honor. This was the second year we invited a chef from Iceland and this time he happened to be my brother in-law, Ari Hallgrímsson, who brought his wife Rut, and son Hallgrímur. They did a fantastic job.  So did our musician, Hemmi, who rocked the house  once again and led the Valkyrju and Viking choirs in a sing off.  Everyone was happy, and what a great time.  We have pictures on our webpage.

I also would like to share with you that I have been working with lawyers at Mayer Brown on a Nonprofit Status for IAC.  This is a pro bono work on their behalf thanks to our Secretary Haukur Guðmundsson who set this up even though he can not be directly involved as it would be a conflict of interest.  What this means for IAC is that any payments or donations can be considered charitable.  It will take about six months to finalize our status but it will be retroactive 22 months so any monetary contribution you make to IAC this year could be tax deductible.  This is very exciting and I am sure it will help our organization to prosper for years to come and be a boost for the Scholarship Fund.

Enjoy the summer of 2016 and I hope to see you at many of our events.

Einar Steinsson

From the Editor

This May Newsletter features articles on the amazing Thorrablot (even though I didn't win the trip to Iceland) and the INL meeting in Vancouver written by John Hofteig. It also contains information on upcoming events such as the 17da juni celebration, the Greater Icelandic Open and Midsommar Nott in Vasa Park.  I also included some information on the Viking ship sailing from Norway to Chicago. The ship will be on exhibit at Navy Pier for anyone interested in seeing this beautiful vessel.

The newsletter has once again received a facelift, this time to make it look more like the website. We hope you like the new look. The newsletter should be easy to view with different browsers, cell phone operating systems and iPads. If the newsletter does not open or read well on your device please let me know what type of device or browser you use.

Enjoy your summer. I am sure I will see many of you at O'Hare either departing for Iceland on a direct flight or picking up visitors from Iceland!

Kolla Kristjansdottir Fass

Hæ hó jibbíjei og jíbbíajei...  Sautjándi júní – Iceland’s Independence Day around the corner…" – Icelandic hot dog picnic!

We’re excited to welcome all IAC members in good standing and their guests to a ‘17di júní’ pylsupartý on Saturday June 11th at 2 PM.  This year we’ll enjoy the hospitality of Jóhann (Joe) Friðrikson and his family who genorously offered their house and garden for our annual hot dog picnic.   IAC treats everyone to Icelandic hot dogs (pylsa), Icelandic style, or as we say it ‘eina með öllu’, which for an Icelander means ketchup, SS Pylsusinnep (mustard), raw and dried fried onion, and remoulade! What makes Icelandic hot dogs unique and oh so good, is that they’re made from lamb meat. Please note that other than the hot dogs, the event is a BYO, so please bring drinks, sides, salads, sweets, or other plates you'd like to eat or share.  We’ll give you the exact address when you sign up but so you have an idea, Joe and Luann live in La Grange Highlands, conveniently close to I-55.  They have plenty of parking, a huge garden, cabana, a hot tub and a swimming pool so please feel free to bring your swimsuit and towel.  For the younger generation and the kid in all of us, they have plenty of activities and games.

Please sign up with Lena by June 6th at or call 773-489-4621.

We look forward to see you on the 11th.

If you’ve yet to renew your membership or are a new member, please do through our webpage

Thorrablot (Þorrablót) 2016

The Icelandic Association of Chicago held its annual Þorrablót March 19th at the Swedish American Museum in Andersonville.  Traditionally we celebrate Þorri in February but this year we wanted to take advantage of the direct flight and booked the musician and chef on the first Icelandair plane to land in our city in 30 years.  People and Thorrafood arrived safely and we were all excited and ready for an extra special celebration and to welcome our Ambassador to the United States, Geir H. Haarde, and his wife, Inga Jóna Þórðardóttir, to enjoy the night with us.  We had a record attendance and sold out weeks before the event.  Everyone had fantastic time savouring Icelandic goodies, cherishing old friends and  making new ones in the spirit of Þorrablót’s motto ‚maður er manns gaman´ (men enjoy the company of other men) as says in Hávamál.  We pride ourselves to throw an authentic Icelandic Þorrablót where all generations come togeter and where sheared sheep heads, pickled rams’ testicle, blood and liver pudding, and many other treasured delicacies take center place on the dinner table.  Our Icelandic chef this year, Ari Hallgrímsson, educated adventurous first comers what they were putting on their plate, and our president, Einar Steinsson, stepped on stage and demonstrated how to eat a sheep head, eye ball and all.  Per tradition, we started the party off with a rotten shark and brennivín, a classic; home made gravlax and a twice smoked leg of lamb from Mývatnssveit.  Other home made food was the rúgbrauð (rye bread), and desserts:  kleinur, ástarpungar, sörur, lakkrístoppar (licorice), meringue cream tarts, skyr and, of course, pönnukökur.    Thanks to Hemmi Ara, our Icelandic musician, we did a lot of singing and no one was exempt when it came to the competition of the men‘s and women‘s choir.  Anna Kárdal decorated the room and this year‘s theme was Svartfuglsegg (Guillemot eggs).

11th Annual Midsommar Nott Celebration

Info from Vasa Park:
Saturday, June 18.  MIDSOMMAR. Park opens at 3:00.  Picnic dinner at 6:00 Please bring a family sized dish to pass.  Main course furnished by Scandinavian Park.
Traditional Maypole raising and dancing, games for children, bonfire lighting and traditional toast at sunset.
Donation - $5.00 per adult. Free for Scandinavian Park members with 2016 membership card - free for children 12 and under.
Reservations required by June 16, 2016. Call 630-665-7866 or email

Sunday, September 11, 2016.  SCANDINAVIAN DAY.  10:00AM - 6:00PM. Admission $10.00  Children 12 and under free.
Fabulous entertainment:  Abba Salute, Jaerv, Kyle Elsbernd and Dave Kirkeby, Ron Eckberg, Leikarringen Heimhug and ICELANDIC VIOLINIST - Dorothy Shaw.
Many vendors of Scandinavian wares, wonderful Scandinavian food,, beverages including Nordic Beer tasting, Viking Bar and Outdoor Beer Garden, coffee, soft drinks Lingonberry Saft and ICELANDIC GLACIAL WATER.
Children's activities including Pony rides and face painting.
Mark your calendars for this event and plan to help in the Water booth

Sunday, June 5th.  BAROKOKO. A program of songs by Swedish poet Carl Michael Bellman and other composers from the 18th and 19th centuries.  2:00 PM - 4:00 PM.
Bring a picnic basket and spend a summer afternoon under the stately oaks of Vasa Park.
Free admission - beverages will be available to purchase - no food vendors at this event - no reservations required. http:/


The Greater Icelandic Open: August 28th

Registration for The Icelandic Open starts soon. It will be at the same place as the last few years, Hilldale Golf Club in Hoffman Estate, Sunday August 28th. Spots are limited and we have sold out for the last five years! Trip to Iceland for a ‘hole in one’ and lots of other goodies. If you already know you are going to play, send an email to Lena and Einar at to reserve a spot. Spread the word.

INL of NA 97th Annual Convention, Vancouver, BC, 28 April-1 May 2016
The following are some of the highlights of the Icelandic National League of North America’s 97th AGM, attended by IAC member, John H. Hofteig, for which there were just over 200 registered attendees, including many guests from Iceland.
The Convention was book-ended, beginning and ending, with organized tours of Vancouver.  Thursday afternoon, volunteers from the convention host, the Icelandic Canadian Club of British Columbia [ICCBC], led a self-directed city tour with optional ends either at Stanley Park and the nearby Queen Elizabeth Botanical Gardens or at one of the multiple waterfront eatery districts.  Both tours began with a visit to the surviving Icelandic Lutheran Church, once at the center of the earliest Icelandic settlement in the area, a congregation which in recent years has been the beneficiary of very generous support from a nearby German Lutheran congregation.  The Icelandic Lutheran Church, as it is still known by the locals, will soon be rebuilt as a five-storey development, a public-private partnership, providing modest affordable senior housing rental units while the congregation will retain one floor for its sanctuary and community outreach.  The much more extensive all-day Sunday bus tour included a tour to the Höfn Icelandic Harbor [as in “safe-haven/refuge”], a large assisted-living senior residence, the third major successor to Vancouver’s original Icelandic Retirement Home, a strikingly modern building with all the amenities and a priceless curated photographic documentation of Icelanders throughout the Pacific Northwest, including Vancouver, Victoria, Blaine, and Point Roberts, complete with decades of relevant art work and Icelandic mementoes throughout the entire building.  The Höfn is overseen by a professional, experienced, dedicated Board of Directors, which still includes members from the original Icelandic Community which was the founding benefactor and still provides considerable volunteer support.  Because occupancy in the Höfn is significantly subsidized by city, regional, and provincial authorities, enrollment is no longer simply the prerogative of Icelandic descent.  Currently, only one of the residents is of Icelandic descent and she opened her very tastefully-appointed apartment, filled with priceless original Icelandic artwork.  The tour ended at the Scandinavian Community Centre, furnished with artwork and libraries provided by all five Scandinavian Communities, with a luncheon and genealogical presentations from the volunteer Icelandic Roots Project.
The Convention theme was Strandarsaga --- A Coast Story, not entirely limited to greater Vancouver and Victoria.  Notable presentations included:
A world-premiere, of sorts, of a dramatic reading of four of the Ten Plays [Tiu Leikret] by Guttormur J. Guttormsson, organized by the author’s granddaughter, Heather Alda Ireland, the current long-time Honorary Icelandic Consul General for British Columbia and the Yukon:  One of the readers --- these plays were actually meant only to be read rather than be staged, per se, as “plays” --- was former IAC-member, Gunnar Ólafur Hansson, Ph.D., now resident in Vancouver.  One of the editors of the Nordic Journal of Linguistics, he is an acknowledged English, Icelandic, and Russian linguist.
An historical survey of western migration across North America by both Canadian- and American- Icelanders presented by W. D. (Bill) Valgardson, the semi-retired veteran of thirty years experience as a senior faculty member at the University of Victoria; a long-time Trustee of the Richard and Margaret Beck Trust, which the Beck’s endowed to provide relevant lectures on Iceland and its culture at the University of Victoria [their final adopted home after distinguished careers at St. Olaf College, Thiel College, and finally at the University of North Dakota for 38 years]; a prolific writer and editor of short stories now published in multiple languages; and briefly once the editor of the Winnipeg-based Lögberg-Heimskringla:  Bill’s presentation was organized under the rubric of Horace Greeley’s iconic advice:  “Go West, young man, go West!”  Immediately recognized by virtually all of the Western Icelanders in the audience, regardless of being resident in Canada or the United States, even by many of the attendees directly from Iceland, Horace Greeley’s advice was further amplified by reference to his admonition to young North Americans to go not where they were necessarily “wanted” but rather where they and their skills were “needed,’’ i.e., where there would be the greatest long-term economic opportunity.  Greeley’s advice was yet more specific to young men contemplating going west:  Learn to chop wood; learn to plow [the prairie]; and learn to mow grass, i.e., hay.  While perfectly obvious to immigrants already well-established in North America, these imperatives were foreign to Icelanders and presented unique challenges:  There were essentially no woods in Iceland.  There were no opportunities for native Icelanders to have learned to plow when Icelandic fields were full of lava with barely any remaining topsoil.  In Iceland, there was meager short-grass, suitable for grazing sheep, but none of the high-grass encountered on the North American prairie.
Yet the always westward Icelandic immigrants persevered, always avidly seeking educational opportunity for their children, a luxury available to only the privileged few in Iceland in the 1870’s, owing to severe economic and natural disasters then prevalent, despite near-universal literacy.  Even after having settled and established themselves in Victoria by the 1880’s, Icelandic immigrants continued to expand out across the West Coast to Point Roberts, Blaine, Bellingham, and Seattle, driven both by adversities in Victoria [a severe economic depression, devastating outbreaks of small pox and scarlet fever, overly harsh quarantines during the second small pox epidemic, and being confined to a relatively small area in the original plat of Victoria, with precious little land for domestic vegetable gardens] and more abundant opportunities elsewhere during the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century.   While quoting extensively from the family histories of Canadian-Icelanders, the same challenges and motivations were also very relevant to the American-Icelandic immigrant experience.  In both countries, westward expansion and mobility really only became a practical possibility, for the first time, by the completion of each country’s respective transcontinental railway.
A tribute to retiring Ambassador Hjálmar Hanesson and his wife, Anna Birgis, and a belated tribute to Hjálmar’s immediate predecessor as Iceland’s Consul General in Winnipeg, Ambassador Atli Ásmundsson, and his wife, þrúður Helgadóttir:  Hjálmar, who turned 70 this past April, has had a distinguished 40-year-long diplomatic career, highlights of which included postings to Canada, the United Nations, and the United States.  Both Atli and Hjálmar carved-out a unique role as Iceland’s only professional, full-time diplomats posted outside of the Embassies in Ottawa, Washington, DC, and New York City [the U. N.], in part, because of the large numbers of Western Icelanders in Manitoba.  As Hjálmar stated, they both were always “disrespectful” of the 49th Parallel.  Both of them actively served the entire North American Icelandic Community from Minnesota, North Dakota, and all of the Canadian provinces west of Winnipeg.
Reelection and election of IAC-members:  Joni Shaw, recently an INL of NA Director-at-Large as Co-Director of the International Visits Program, was reelected and John H. Hofteig was newly elected as a Director-at-Large, recruited to concentrate on INL of NA fundraising issues.
Further relevant information is available on the Icelandic National League of North America’s enhanced website:                        J.H.H.

Viking ship sailing to Chicago: Draken Harald Hårfagre

A modern day version of a Viking Ship is sailing from Norway to Chicago. It is named after Harald Hårfagre the first King of Norway. Come see it at Navy Pier between July 27th and 31st!

Information about the expedition and Viking Ship:
Information about the Pepsi Tall Ships Chicago 2016 at Navy Pier: