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Church offers taste of Norway

May 21, 2012
Lee Smith - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

Each year, more than a hundred people make their way to Truman in mid-May for an unusual breakfast.

It includes kringle, krumkake, fruit soupe, rosettes, hard-boiled eggs, sugar cookies and, of course, lefse. The odd fare helps mark the occasion of Norwegian Constitution Day, or syttende mai (May 17). It's a celebration of Norway's independence.

For 30 years, the women at Trinity Lutheran Church have hosted the breakfast, which is open to the public. Cathy Sorenson, co-chairwoman of the event, says there were once so many women of Norwegian heritage at the church that a syttende mai breakfast was an obvious choice. The founders have since passed on. The 25 women who run the breakfast today are not sure how many more years, if any, the tradition will continue.

Article Photos

Lee Smith
Luella Kautz of Trinity Lutheran Church in Truman puts out more rosettes during the syttende mai breakfast at the church on Saturday morning.

"People would probably miss it," Sorenson says. "It is a service we do. We intend it as a service."

That notion, however, contends with all the time and effort that goes into preparing for syttende mai. And the event is up against a growing societal challenge.

"I'm sure our church is like every other one," Sorenson says. "The older people keep things going, and the younger people do their own thing."

She acknowledges, though, that while those who prepare for the event may tire of it at times, they also get fired up when it rolls around again. So there is hope the breakfast will continue. For those of Norwegian descent, and those who join in for a day, that is good news. Sorenson notes the only other major syttende mai event in the region takes place in Hanska, south of New Ulm.

Those who come to the breakfast in Truman make a donation in order to step up to the buffet, which features that unique combination of "goodies."

"If you go to Norway, you don't eat those types of thing for breakfast," Sorenson admits.

But the point is not strict adherence to Norwegian culture. Rather, it is fellowship and enjoyment of this Americanized version of syttende mai.

Doris Krenz, 85, of St. James is half-Norwegian. She has been coming to the breakfast for more years than she can remember.

"I just think it's the colors," she said of the traditional red, white and blue of Norway. "It's exciting to see the flag, to meet old friends."

Krenz surprised Ancel and Grace Skrabeck of St. James by inviting them along for the trip Saturday. The first-timers were immediate fans.

"It's totally awesome," said Grace, a full-blooded German who loves Norwegian food, something her mother-in-law taught her to make. Grace noted that her husband is 100 percent Norwegian.

Marilyn Holtey of Fairmont also was a first-timer, who came with her sister and other family members. Holtey has traveled to Norway and she studied Norwegian in college. Her grandfather emigrated from that nation when he was 16, becoming a farm hand in the United States before saving enough to buy his own farm.

Holtey was enjoying the kringle as well as the cultural refresher Saturday. She hoped the good ladies at Trinity Lutheran keep the tradition going.

"I would look forward to it," she said of a possible return trip.



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