As a 50 percent Swedish Euro-mongrel, I have been following the ongoing debate regarding Asatru, the ancient religion of The Great White Norse, appearing between the covers of the Gazette. I think the count is now up to one article and three letters to the editor. I haven't seen so much interest in a topic since Robin Meyers flew the coop.
I seem to recall that the discussion was kicked off with an article by Greg Horton (News, "Okies and Odinism," Gazette) that appeared just before Christmas (or, in the name of diversity, just after "Winter Solstice Day" or "Yule Log Lighting Day" or "Pillage the Monasteries on England's East Coast Eve"). One of the highlights of the article was the photo of an Asatruar bearing tats that looked more like they came off the Navajo or Mayan design clearance rack at the tattoo parlor than something Eric the Red or his son, Leif, might have sported. Who knows? The Vikings who "discovered" the discoverers of the New World probably influenced their culture. Or vice versa.
Another highlight was the fact that the article made me aware of a part of my cultural heritage that I didn't even know existed! This is probably because I never got into Dungeons & Dragons or any of the myriad of other fantasy games out there. Reading all of the Conan the Barbarian books, when I was a kid, was as close as I got.
I suspect that most modern Scandinavian-Americans are more interested in cultural celebrations centered on smorgasbords, hot dishes, Lutheran Church basement suppers (involving lots of coffee), listening to old ABBA recordings and Lake Wobegon CDs, leafing through IKEA catalogs in their Volvos and expressing concern about the demise of Saab than they are in reading runes and chanting to Odin (Woten) or Thor.
Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone of Scandinavian American Awareness Week (SAAW) that began, this year, on Jan. 17 and runs through Saturday. I realize that SAAW is half over, but there is still time to whip up a batch of Swedish meatballs, get a jar of pickled herring or Crown Prince Kipper Snacks and buy some RyKrisp or Wasa bread. Or, at the very least, to begin planning next year's celebration. A bottle of Akvavit will lend authenticity, but lutefisk is optional. Rooting for the Vikings is mandatory.
"John D. Carlson