Annual Events at the Scandinavian Cultural Center

Norwegian Independence Day (17th of May)

On May 17, 1814, Norwegian delegates signed a constitution that made Norway a country distinct from Denmark and Sweden. This day is celebrated in Norway annually with parades and speeches, and by many Norwegian-Americans. Though the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle is famous for its parade, Pacific Lutheran University has its own tradition of gathering students, faculty, and friends in Centennial Plaza, where a Norwegian flag proudly waives daily in honor of our Norwegian heritage. On the 17th of May, students raise the Norwegian and U.S. flags in a morning celebration, while singing Ja, vi elsker dette landet and the Star Spangled Banner. The Grand Marshal of the Ballard Parade traditionally joins the celebration and brings greetings from Norway, thanks to the Norwegian Consulate for Seattle, Mr. Kim Nesselquist. A breakfast is then held in the Scandinavian Cultural Center.

Norwegian Heritage Festival

When HM King Olav V of Norway visited Pacific Lutheran University in 1975, local Norwegian-Americans staged a Norwegian Heritage Festival in his honor. It was such a huge success that it became an annual tradition. Today the festival features Norwegian foods, entertainment, vendors, and crafts and demonstrations (e.g., rosemaling, Hardanger embroidery, spinning, and woodcarving).

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The Norwegian Heritage Festival celebrates Norwegian culture through artisans, vendors, performers, and authentic food. It usually takes place on the last Saturday in April and runs from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Free admission and free parking.

Relax with friends and family in the Norwegian Café where you will enjoy on-stage performances by Norwegian musical, vocal, and dance groups, while tantalizing your taste buds with authentic Norwegian food such as ertesuppe (pea soup) lapskaus (beef stew), pølse med lompe (Norwegian hot dogs), rømmegrøt (cream pudding), smørrbrød (open-faced sandwiches) and tasty baked goods. Have fun shopping for authentic Norwegian products in the vendor booths that line the hallways just outside the café.

The Norwegian Heritage Festival is a combined effort of Daughters of Norway Embla Lodge #2, Sons of Norway Norden Lodge #2, Nordlandslaget Nordlyset, and the Scandinavian Cultural Center.

Norwegian Christmas Service (Julegudstjeneste)

An annual event on the PLU campus since 1975, this event is a blend of spiritual songs and scripture readings that tell the story of Jesus. The candlelight service has become a family tradition for many in the Tacoma-Seattle area. The event is conducted by students and faculty in the Norwegian Program. For the last two years it has been held in the newly renovated Ness Family Chapel, which is located on the 3rd floor of the Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. This chapel is the Rose Window chapel.

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Held in early December, the Norwegian Christmas Service is the perfect way to celebrate the meaning of Christmas with a special candlelight service. The event affords an opportunity for students in the Norwegian program to use their Norwegian language skills in a very meaningful way by forming class choirs and reading scriptures. A reception follows with Norwegian cookies, punch, and coffee. The event is free and open to the public. Sponsors: Scandinavian Cultural Center and Norwegian Program.

Swedish Sankta Lucia Fest

The Sankta Lucia Fest celebrated in the Swedish tradition and takes place in PLU’s Performance Hall Eastvold Auditorium. The hour-long program features Swedish music, song, and dance, and a very special children’s performance. The celebration marks the beginning of the Christmas season at PLU and is a favorite of children and adults.

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In December 1951, Rev. E. Arthur Larson, professor of Swedish, introduced the Lucia custom to the PLU campus. The first Lucia was Lola Murk Gracey (class of ’54). She dressed in the traditional white robe with a red sash and wore a crown of candles on her head. She rose very early in the morning and went from room to room in Harstad Hall offering her fellow students cookies and hot coffee. Lola donated the crown she wore in 1951 to the SCC’s permanent artifact collection. From its humble beginnings, the Sankta Lucia Fest has become a time-honored tradition at PLU.

The Lucia Legend

There are many legends about Sankta Lucia and in each one, Lucia stands as a symbol of light and hope. Sankta Lucia’s coming sparks the spirit of friendliness and goodwill that lasts throughout the holiday season.

One popular legend is said to have originated in Syracuse, Italy, on the island of Sicily, and eventually made its way to Scandinavia. The legend tells of a young woman, about to be married, who gave her entire dowry to the poor people of her village in the province of Värmland. When she vowed to devote her life to Christ, she was accused of witchcraft and was burned at the stake on December 13, 304 AD. It is said that after her death, Lucia could be seen on Lake Vänern dressed in a white gown with a crown of lights on her head. Eventually, the early Church gave Lucia the status of sainthood and she became known as Sankta Lucia. Artists often portray Lucia as a blind girl holding a lamp. Fishermen regard her as a patron saint who guides them through stormy seas.

In Sweden, Lucia Day is celebrated on December 13th in the schools and in the workplace. In Swedish homes, the eldest daughter rises early in the morning, dresses in a white gown with a red sash, and wears a crown of candles in her hair. She wakes her family at dawn and serves them a breakfast of coffee, gingerbread cookies, and Lussekatter.

Sankta Lucia Fest is a time to celebrate a young woman who embodied the qualities of mercy, purity, dedication, hope, and faith. The quality of mercy is seen through the service she rendered to the people of her village. The white gown she wears is a symbol of purity, and the crimson sash at her waist represents a steadfast dedication to her religious beliefs, even unto death. The crown of evergreens and the halo of candles denote the hope of eternal life.

Nordic Christmas Fest

The annual Nordic Christmas Fest has been a much-anticipated event in the Scandinavian Cultural Center for over two decades. The Cultural Center is at its loveliest with candlelight and magical holiday decorations. The evening is filled with great conversation, fantastic food, and lively entertainment. The lavish Nordic buffet will leave you in “fine fettle!”

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The Banquet Menu

Traditional Scandinavian Glögg

Cold Table:
Norwegian Goat Cheese (Gjetost), Swedish Farmer Cheese, Creamy Danish Havarti, Danish Bleu, Seedless Grapes, Pickled Beets (Syltede robeter), Crisp Bread (Knäckebröd), Danish Pumpernickel, Pork Liver Paté (Lever postei), Pickled Herring, Gravlaks with Mustard Sauce

Main Table:
Danish Fruit-Stuffed Roast Pork (Fyldt flæskesteg), Potato Sausage (Potatiskorv), Swedish Meatballs (Köttbullar) with Lingonberries, Norwegian Baked Salmon (Ovnstekt laks), Finnish Rutabaga Puree (Lanttulaatikko), Icelandic Caramelized Potatoes (Brúnaðar Kartöflur), Jansson’s Temptation (Jansson’s frestelse), Red Cabbage (Rødkål), Sweet and Sour Cabbage (Surkål), Cucumber Salad (Agurksalat), Boiled Potatoes, Christmas Bread (Julekake), Finnish Cardamom Bread (Pulla), Swedish Rye Bread (Limpa), Crisp Bread (Knäckebröd), Danish Pumpernickel, Potato Lefse (Potetlefse), Flatbread (Flatbrød)

Rice Cream with Red Sauce (Riskrem med rød saus), assorted Scandinavian Cookies