Turns out 1905 was a big year. The Russo-Japanese War and nationalist revolution in Russia; my dad was born in County Down, Ulster, Ireland; and Norway became an independent nation after the dissolution of the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway, Norway’s political reality since 1814. Before 1814, it had been a member of the on-again, off-again union with Denmark (a.k.a. Denmark-Norway). But that’s another story. Continue reading
Olympic medals per million people in population
- Norway: 5.2
- Russia: .2307
- USA: .0848
Just sayin’… 😉
When I first think of being Norwegian (or a quarter Norwegian), I think of things like the flag, the land, the pale people, the socialism, and maybe even Garrison Keillor.
These modern-day associations stand in contrast with how I look at my Irishness (or my quarter+ of Irishness). I think of the ancient Celtic mists, the druids and runes of antiquity, the high kings and holy hills, all historical-mythical things.
But wait a second, Norse mythology deserves some attention too! It might even be more interesting than Irish mythology, considering the pantheon (extensive), story lines (full of mirth and surprises), and the fact that it has a beginning, middle and end, something even the Greeks never quite mustered.
And let us not forget the Viking invasion of Ireland, which I’ve heard is responsible for all the red haired, freckle-faced gingers who are seen as distinctly Irish.
Yes the Norse and Viking heritage is nothing to be scoffed at.
For me, this realization began when a Russian-looking Turkish student of mine stopped me while we were washing our hands in the bathroom one day. He took one look at my face and said “Viking!”
That made me stop and think, maybe this Norwegian side of me does loom large in the man I’ve become and am to become.
Hmmm, well either way, I’ll be happy to look at this year as my Year of being 1/4 Norwegian!
Sean McCandless (Mike’s son)
The talk of the 2014 Winter Olympics is the Norwegian curllng team and their crazy pants. And why not? They got the Gold in 2002! Here’s the video…
Norway has won more Winter Olympics gold, silver and bronze medals than any other county (a total of 303 to 253 for #2 USA). What other nation of 4.5 million can claim something like this?
Is my nationality half-Norwegian? What does that mean? That I am or was a Norwegian citizen? Well, that doesn’t work. Am I half-Norwegian culturally? Sounds strange since I’m just now trying to learn about Norwegian culture. Genetically? Genes don’t have nationalities. Ethnically? Popular word these days, but what does it really mean? I’ve decided I’m just half-Norwegian because one set of grandparents emmigrated to the USA from Norway. What I’m trying to do is get involved with that ancestral fact, embrace it like I was embracing them and all their forebearers…something I’ll never be able to do in this lifetime. I’ve decided it’s worth the effort.
Being half Norwegian on New Year’s Eve meant eating herring at midnight. I could only tolerate the “packed in sour cream” variety but came to look forward to this tradition that came out of my mom’s heritage. I supposed it was for good luck. Mom never said why or how or anything about this – like most everything else about growing up Norwegian-American. Just one more thing for me to discover this year.
When I was eight or nine, I had a remote-control airplane with a “glow plug” motor and a control cable to guide it around a gradually widening circle until it ran out of fuel and glided to a two-point landing ready for re-fueling and more fun. I used precious birthday money to buy the plane; hurriedly put it together; and took my little Piper Cub or whatever down to the corner where the street was wide enough for a good test.
I primed the motor, spun the nylon propeller to get it going, and launched my beauty into the air for its maiden flight. I can still see it nosedive into the pavement, my aviation adventure over. I never had another remote-control anything. What was the point?
Life experiences like this one are partly about what led up to them. In life, the people who went before me matter. Their lives and their cultures and histories have something to do with how my life turns out. Learning about my ancestors helps me know where I’m coming from, a key variable in knowing where I’m going. You never know what will make a difference.
Until recently, I’d missed most every opportunity to know more about the people and culture that came to me through my Norwegian-American mother, who certainly had a lot to do with how my life got started. I’ve decided to commit this year, 2014, to learning about what it means to be half-Norwegian. I hope that those who follow along get curious about their origins, too.