AT ISSUE: Every so often someone asks me to help publicize an event in their community. This time it was a former resident of Vivian wanting me to give a push for its annual Syttende Mai (Norsky Independence Day) celebration to be held this Thursday, May 17, and tie in that old, old, story about the Vikings wintering in Ireland “I believe you wrote about one time.” And for the umpteenth time I have had to say no because if I did, that’s about all I would get accomplished. Besides, I’ve told that story almost annually for years that it is starting to smell like lutefisk.
I THINK IT WAS in ’09 that I last talked about an assemblage of Vikings (assemblage: meaning a bunch) who were having a tough winter up Norway way. To the point they may have been the first who traveled south for the winter, a tradition held annually to this day in both North and South Dakota. While the Dakotans today head for Texas or Arizona, those Vikings ended up landing on the north shore of Ireland.
But before I get to the beginning of the story, I feel I must repeat my refusal to publicize hometown events. Vivian’s is a good example with its Syttende Mai celebration this Thursday complete with a 6 p.m. parade and a typical Norsky dinner at 6: 30 p.m. in the Vivian Hall. You know what that is as it was recently inducted into the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, something I wrote about a few weeks ago. Its fame were those Saturday night dances that go way back to my era.
By the way, at 5:30 the parade entrants are supposed to gather at the “Luteran” Church. Then, at 7:30 the program starts featuring Gordy “Crazy Fingers” Lindquist, pianist and humorist.
THE WAY THE STORY was told to me that during a particular bad winter a long time ago this assemblage of Vikings just couldn’t stand it any more so they decided to go south for the winter.
After landing on the north shore of Ireland they liked it so much they decided to stay for a while. But to do so they needed some food. So they journeyed out into the Irish Sea and caught hundreds of pounds of fish. I believe it was cod. They brought the fish back to land and stored it in a colossal Irish cave.
Needless to say, taking all of this fish really upset the Irishmen who lived nearby. If that wasn’t bad enough, those Vikings started their usual pillaging and plundering which Vikings were prone to do, and started dating the Irish lasses, taking them to the movies and the local dance hall, probably very much like the one in Vivian. All of this treachery really got the Irish men irritated.
Then, these Vikings decided they would like to have some potatoes to eat along with their fish so they went out one dark and dreary night and helped themselves to hundreds of pounds of spuds from the Irish farmers and found another mammoth cave to store those spuds.
WELL, TO PUT IT mildly, the Irish folks, especially the moms and dads of the young lasses, were really getting disgusted. They just had to do something about all these shenanigans (Irish word for mischief).
Those Irish folks waited for another dark and dreary night and then snuk (Irish word for sneaked) into that cave full of fish and poured lye all over them.
The next morning those Vikings cooked up a batch of that lye-soaked fish and discovered this new dish was so delicious they named it after their Viking queen, Luta.
The next night was even darker and drearier than the night before so these mad Irishmen drove an entire herd of cattle through the cave full of spuds, smashed those potatoes to smithereens (something like mashed potatoes the Vivian folks will serve during their annual Syttende Mai dinner.)
THE NEXT MORNING the Vikings cooked up a batch of those smashed spuds and that new concoction was so delectable those Vikings named it after their king, Lef.
WELL, THIS ENTIRE episode was getting so far out of hand, those Irishmen jumped on the overnight train to Dublin and demanded an audience with Saint Patrick.
After hearing all the ballyhoo (Irish for hyperbole) Saint Patrick was so incensed that he jumped into his helicopter and flew up there where those Vikings were vacationing and told them to go straight to Hell!
And they all settled in North Dakota. And maybe a few drifted down Vivian way.
AND WHILE WE are at it, we have all heard about kissing the Blarney Stone. But at this point I feel I have the responsibility to tell you that “Blarney” is nothing more than the derivative of some Viking word. “Blarney” is another food item that is so distasteful that those Vikings wouldn’t eat it, let alone store it with their fish and taters, and let alone kiss it. And that is really why they left Ireland.
P.S. Come Thursday night the folks will be tickling their tummies with not only Lefse, Lutafisk and meatballs, but with Fattigman, Kransekake, Rosettes, Krumkaka and a lot of Noeweigan coffee. Wished I could be there.
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