Fika meeting with John Norquist

11 05 2023

Reminder of the Fika meeting at 1:30 PM Saturday May 13, 2023 at Martin Luther Lutheran Church9235 West Bluemound RoadMilwaukee located just east of Milwaukee Zoo. As posted earlier, we welcome John Norquist to discuss Swedish Architecture, and specifically about renowned Swedish Architect Kjell Forshed (see previous post)

30 years ago

30 years ago John was serving as the Mayor of Milwaukee, John’s father Pastor Ernest Norquist was serving as an officer of Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin (SAHSWI) and his sister Mary Norquist (now Stetson) was playing the violin at Society Midsommar celebration and other events. The Norquist family is of Swedish descent exemplifying the SAHSWI mission. (Ernest served SAHSWI as president 1983-87, officer until 1998, and Mary has played violin at SAHSWI events for over 30 years)

SAHSWI Mission, statement of purpose:Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin is dedicated to promote a greater knowledge and appreciation of the role played by persons of Swedish descent in the growth and development of the State of Wisconsin through the story of immigration, settlement and contributions Swedish Americans have made the American Experience as well as to maintain continuing appreciation of their Swedish traditions and culture.

Creating housing for common people

30 04 2023

Don’t miss the Fika meeting at 1:30 PM Saturday May 13, 2023 at Martin Luther Lutheran Church, 9235 West Bluemound RoadMilwaukee located just east of Milwaukee Zoo. The meeting is open to the public. Program…

Kjell Forshed, Swedish Architect & Consultant.

Former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist will present a program about Kjell Forshed, Swedish architect who is focused on urban development creating housing for common people, with the aspect of social interaction. John Norquist is now the John M DeGrove Fellow at Florida Atlantic University and Adjunct Professor at DePaul University Real Estate Program.

Then there is fika.

After the presentation join our traditional Fika where we together enjoy coffee and treats brought in by our members and other guests. Would you like to prepare some authentic Swedish dishes?  Check out the Food Heritage Main Food tab on our website,  Several members have shared their favorite recipes as well as their memories of those dishes. You will find links to the dishes presented at last September’s program, “Exploring Our Swedish Food Heritage,” as well as favorites from recent Fika meetings, such as Risgrynsgröt (Rice Pudding), and Chokladboll (No Bake Chocolate Balls).  Do you have a favorite Swedish recipe that you like to share? The list will keep growing as we keep enjoying Fika together in the Swedish way!

Glad Påsk

7 04 2023

Happy Easter in Swedish is Glad Påsk. Easter is a real family celebration in Sweden. They celebrate Easter somewhat differently than it is done in the US. They don’t have an Easter bunny but Easter witches, they play jokes with each other and they also get time off on Good Friday.

Holy Wednesday, or Dymmelonsdag is the Wednesday before Easter. The word doesn’t seem to translate literally but would be something like “joke Wednesday”. Similar to “April fools!”, The Swedes say: “April april din dumma sill, jag kan lura dig vart jag vill“. (April, April you dum herring, I can fool you in any way I want)

At Easter, Swedes decorate eggs and hang colored feathers on Easter branches in their homes. Children are given a colorful paper egg with candy inside.

Easter witches. On Holy Saturday (the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday) the children dress up as Easter witches and go from door to door. They sing songs and hand out drawings. In exchange, they are rewarded with sweets. So the current Swedish Easter Witch is a cute and friendly witch and not a scary witch as in the middle ages.

The Easter witch tradition is said to date back to the Middle Ages when hundreds of women were executed in Sweden for witchcraft. It was once believed that the witches flew on their brooms to Blåkulla Island on Maundy Thursday to meet with the devil. On Holy Saturday there are many Easter fires that, according to tradition, were supposed to keep the witches at bay.

Easter meal. Most of the Easter buffet are egg dishes. Furthermore, herring and salmon are served and sometimes Janssons frestelse, Jansson’s temptation..

In Sweden, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday are official holidays.

Related Swedish vocabulary

  • Happy Easter: Glad Påsk
  • Maundy Thursday: Skärtorsdagen
  • Good Friday: långfredagen
  • Holy Saturday: påskafton
  • Easter witches: påskkärringar
  • Twigs with colored feathers/easter twigs: påskris

Happy Easter from Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin, Inc.


1 04 2023

Scandinavian Design FIKA meeting

The program topic for the SAHSWI 2023 March FIKA meeting was Scandinavian Design and based on the exhibition Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980 which is being held at Milwaukee Art Museum from March 24 to July 23, 2023. SAHSWI Vice President John Elliott introduced a discussion held via a podcast from the Swedish House in Washington DC where Monica Obniski, previous Demmer Curator of 20th and 21st Century Design at the Milwaukee Art Museum and Dag Blanck, Professor of North American Studies at Uppsala University in Sweden, presented and discussed Scandinavian influence of design in the 20th century. The podcast presented started at the 37th minute and ended at the 1hr 17th minute of the YouTube link below. (To hear Dag’s presentation of Swedish American Relations in the 20th Century use the same link starting at 22nd minute)

Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890-1980

Monica Obniski organized the exhibition together with her colleague Bobbye Tigerman of Los Angeles County Museum of Art and in collaboration with the Nationalmuseum in Sweden and the Nasjonalmuseet in Norway. Please find below Milwaukee Art Museum invitation to the exhibition and special program presentations.

State of Wisconsin Historical Marker fundraiser

The SAHSWI project to honor the history of Gustaf Unonius, New Upsala and the Scandinavian Parish with a State Historical Marker is now under final review by the Wisconsin Historical Society. In order to cover the cost of the marker a fundraising campaign has been launched. Gustaf Unonius was the leader who arrived at Pine Lake in 1841, together with other early settlers arriving the following year they established New Upsala, the first Swedish Settlement in Wisconsin, and together with other Scandinavian immigrants and Episcopal missionary the Scandinavian Parish was established. Today this history lives on in the St Anskar’s Episcopal church in Hartland, Wisconsin. Please find below a link to the project donation page:

Donate to historical marker

Scandinavian Design

20 02 2023

Fika meeting date and time: Saturday March 11, 2023 at 1:30 PM,

Program: Scandinavian Design, Presented by Monica Obniski,

Location: Martin Luther Lutheran Church, 9235 West Bluemound Road, Milwaukee located just east of Milwaukee Zoo.

Monica Obniski will present the Scandinavian Design based on the exhibition Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980 which she co-organized with her colleague Bobbye Tigerman of Los Angeles County Museum of Art and in collaboration with the Nationalmuseum in Sweden and the Nasjonalmuseet in Norway. The exhibition originally planned for 2020 was re-scheduled due to the Covid 19 Pandemic and will now be held March 24–July 23, 2023 at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Prior to joining the curatorial team at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, Obniski was the Demmer Curator of 20th- and 21-st Century Design at the Milwaukee Art Museum

The program will explore the design exchanges between the United States and the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden over the 20th century. Obniski will unpack several themes that contributed to the robust exchange, including migration, educational opportunities, diplomatic relations, and consumption.

Milwaukee Art Museum Exhibition link

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how Scandinavia have influenced design in America, bring a treat to share and socialize over a cup of coffee, come and fika.

History and Culture on a Beer Can

23 01 2023

The first SAHSWI Fika meeting of 2023, held at Martin Luther Lutheran Church on January 21, 2023, featured SAHSWI members Del and Susan Worden’s presentation of Swedish history and culture expressed on a unique media – beer cans. Del, a collector of beer cans from various countries, showed his collection of cans from Sweden manufactured in the 1970’s, and discussed the subjects the cans portrayed.

All these cans are made of steel and displays pictures and text of different themes.

  • The Birka Beer series of 25 cans has historical information about the Vikings. Birka, the first Swedish town or settlement, (founded 750 AD) became an important trading center. Includes illustrations and description of Viking ships, their weapons, helmets, coins, trade with Asia, and their colonization.
  • The Sami Drum 5-can set show magical symbols only understood by a sorcerer called a “nåid” when he was establishing contact with the spiritual world. Symbols include, the Sorcerer, the Sorcerer’s bird and reindeer, The Sami hunter and the Goddess “Akka”
  • Brygghusöl a 5-can series of beer you can afford to like” picturing different common professions: The Miner, The Glass Blower, The Cook, The Market Woman
  • Gränges Export Beer, a set of cans picturing artworks from Swedish and foreign artists, including Swedish artists, Pehr Hillestrom, Wilhelm Wallander, and Albin Amelin
From left to right: The Viking ship from the Birka series, The Sami hunter from Sami Drum set, The Miner from the Brygghusöl set, and The Meal from the Gränges Export set of art.
  • Granges Fatol, presenting a different can for each of the different provinces (landskap) in Sweden,
  • Hansa Fatöl, a 5-can set with drawings of historic sites from the city of Visby on the island of Gotland.
  • Skepparöl a 7-can set show illustrations of different historic ships
  • Wasa Export Beer, a single can illustrating the powerfully armed warship that sank in August of 1628 on its maiden voyage.
From left Uppland from Gränges Provinces series, The North City Gate from the Hansa Fatöl Visby set, Zoroaster 1877 from Skepparöl set, and Wasa Export Bier, cans made for export to Germany

Del also discussed his collecting hobby, the evolution of breweries in Sweden, and about the classification of beer in Sweden, which is based on the alcohol content. Only class I and II beers are available for purchase in grocery stores, the stronger class III can only be purchased at the state-controlled liquor store “Systembolaget” or licensed restaurants.

Please find below the complete Powerpoint presentation

There were over 40 people attending the meeting who after the presentation enjoyed the traditional Fika with coffee and sweets donated by the attendants. Mary Stetson and Carol Gustafson entertained playing Swedish folk music on violin.

Gott Nytt År, Happy New Year 2023

5 01 2023

2022 is now history and we look forward to an exciting new year. We remember 2022 as being the year we came out of the pandemic, with great programming, well attended Fika meetings, Midsommar and Lucia celebrations, with Lucia a record attendance in our 48 years of operation. We thank all that engaged to make 2022 a successful year, all volunteers, board and committee members, all who attended the meetings, all who made donations. We are grateful for the re-start of the Swedish Genealogy Research Group meetings and for the progress the State Historical Marker Project team made. We thank Martin Luther Lutheran Church, St. Anskar’s Episcopal church and Whitnall Park Lutheran Church for the use of their facilities for our meetings.

2023 promises to be a great year too. The first Fika meeting is coming up. It’s been 3 years since we had a Fika meeting in January. The program topic is uniquely interesting, presented by SAHSWI members Del and Susan Worden. Do not miss this meeting.

Saturday, January 21, 1:30 PM Fika meeting.

Del and Susan Worden presenting at Martin Luther Lutheran Church9235 West Bluemound RoadMilwaukee located just east of Milwaukee Zoo. The meeting is open to the public.

Del and Susan will show their collection of unique Swedish beer cans and discuss the stories they tell. There are cans with stories from the time of the Vikings, others with historic Swedish art, and some with ancient symbols, etc. This is a must see presentation!

After the presentation it is Fika time, coffee and sweets will be shared by SAHSWI members and others attending the meeting.

Lucia Day 2022

12 12 2022

The 2022 Swedish American Lucia Day was celebrated on Dec 4 at Whitnall Park Lutheran Church. The Lucia program was performed by 44 children and young adults under the direction of Sonia Hummel. Violin prelude and piano accompany was played by Lindsey Zundel. Hans Shin was reading the Lucia story and introducing the Swedish songs and poems, and Stina Lemery was helping with the songs that were mainly performed in Swedish.

This annual event was attended by about 170 people taking up most of the seats in the church Sanctuary, many moved by the high-spirited beauty of the Lucia procession and performance by children and teenagers ranging from ages 3 to 17.

The 2022 Lucia is Josie German who has her ancestral roots in Sweden through her Great Grandmother ‘gammelmormor’ Eunice Anderson Troyer, a life-long member of the Linde Lodge, Vasa Order.

Josie is an outstanding student, a junior at Franklin High School, already taking college level classes, by the end of her Junior year accumulating 18 college credits.  She is a member of the National Honor Society. She is active, participating in many clubs at school while also working toward her Gold Award in the Girl Scouts.

Josie is also a gifted athlete, competing in the Varsity Tennis State Championship for the last 2 years representing the team as the captain.

While she takes great pride in her own Swedish heritage, she always wants to learn about the cultural traditions of others and currently volunteers to teach and help newcomer young Afghan refugees.

The Lucia Crown

The Lucia Crown has five candles, each representing a different virtue of Lucia’s character: hope, mercy, purity, dedication, and faith. A short poem was read by Lucia attendants (Tärnor)


När första ljuset brinner, står julens dörr på glänt, och jubel psalmen klingar i helig tid advent. (When the first Christmas candle is burning, we know Christmas is close by.)


När andra ljuset brinner, vi höra löftets ord, om Konungen som kommer med frälsning till vår jord. (When the 2nd Christmas candle is burning, we hear the promise of old that a Savior is coming.)


När tredje ljuset tändas i kulen vinter tid. Vi höra himlens klockor, som ringa fröjd och frid.(When the 3rd candle is lit, we hear the bells of heaven wishing all peace and goodwill)


Vi se i fjärde ljuset en stjärna underbar, som ger åt livets gåtor ett evighetens svar. (As the 4th candle is lit, we see a beautiful star with promise to all of life eternal.)


Sist julens lilla tomte med gran och juleljus, nu önskar juleglädje och frid i hem och hus. (At last the little Christmas elf with Christmas tree and lights, is wishing all a joyful and blessed Christmas.)

The Lucia Procession

The Lucia procession in the form of a light-bearing Lucia with an entourage is a relatively recent phenomenon The Lucia procession took on its present character after a competition was announced in Stockholms Dagblad in 1927, in which the chosen Lucia was given a chandelier and led a procession of bridesmaids. The procession was supplemented by star boys, who had traditionally gone around singing in the cottages during Advent to represent the three wise men. The event became popular and similar celebrations were recreated around Sweden. As Lucia processions began to be organised in schools and nurseries, the procession was augmented by Santa’s elves and gingerbread men. (Reference: Allmogens Tryckeri )

LUCIA:  Josie German

ATTENDANTS: Zoe Boschi, Hannah Cutler,  Ella Cutler,   Annika Cutler,   Evie Davauer,   Nova Davauer,   Olivia Davauer,  Violet Davauer, Leighton Ehrengren,   Anna Einhorn,   Ottilia Hoag,   Ella Lemery,    Emilla Lemery,     Mila Leon,    Lily Sparrow,  Addison Woodford,  Ellory Woodford,   Isie Woodford,  Catherine Zundel,   Elizabeth Zundel,   Margaret Zundel,

STAR BOYS: Nathan Boschi,   Thomas Cutler,  Camden Ehrengren,   James Einhorn,   Oliver Hoag,   Axel Roen,  John Snow,   Jacob Snow,   David Whipple. 

PEPPARKAKER: Joseph Kaltenburg,   Emma Snow, Mary Snow

TOMTEN:  Mia Cutler,    Eli Kaltenburg,     Eliza Snow,    Joseph Whipple,   Jane Zundel. 

Julbord, dance around the Christmas Tree, and Jultomten

After the Lucia program the celebration moved to the church Fellowship Hall for food and treats donated by SAHSWI members and others attending the event. The children performed Swedish folk dance and typical Swedish song and dance and everyone was invited to join in the dance around the Christmas tree.

Jultomten (Santa Claus) arrived greeting all the children to treats.

Thank you, Sonia

Thank you, Sonia

It was a beautiful celebration, a “Wisconsin Lucia tradition” kept alive and still growing. Sonia Hummel, part of the tradition, has directed this program for 25 years. This may have been the final year for her since she is moving on to Arizona to be close to her family

“Sonia, we like to thank you for all the wonderful performances of Lucia, for your dedicated work to keep this great Swedish tradition alive and well here in Wisconsin. We thank you for all the lives you touched through all those years.”

Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin and Vasa Order of America, Linde Lodge no 492

Thank You

  • Whitnall Park Lutheran Church for having us at the church and making the necessary preparations
  • Lucia program participants,
  • All the volunteers at SAHSWI for all planning and preparations and ensuring the event was successfully completed,
  • Everyone that donated food and sweets
  • Santa Claus

And finally we thank everyone that came to together celebrate the Lucia Day.

2022 Annual General meeting

25 10 2022

2022 SAHSWI Annual General meeting was held on October 22, 2022, at Martin Luther Lutheran Church, Milwaukee. The past year activities were reviewed, and annual reports from officers and committees presented. The presentation and all reports are available on the website. As shown in the presentation and reports, it was a good year for SAHSWI with the return to face-to-face meetings and celebrations, which all had good participation. It should be noted that membership increased, the new Fika meeting location at Martin Luther Lutheran Church turned out great, and the re-start of the Swedish Genealogy Research Group (SGRG) meetings was accomplished.

2022 Annual General Meeting presentation and annual reports.

Election was held for open positions on the Board of Directos. Martha Bergland, John Elliott, and Jan Ehrengren were elected to serve a 3-year term on the Board of Directors starting January 1, 2023. In addition, Irene Roberts was elected to serve a 2-year term as a replacement for Barbara Froemming, who sadly passed away in May of 2022. Irene is serving as the Treasurer of SAHSWI.

“I like to thank everyone that has made this past year a successful year for the organization. Our members and other meeting participants, all volunteers at our meetings and celebration events, our Board and Committee members, our Historical Project Team members, all successfully overcoming any challenges presented. We can now look forward to a new year of exploring and celebrating our Swedish heritage and advancing our Swedish American agenda in Wisconsin.” Jan Ehrengren, President SAHSWI

The Program presented at the meeting by John Elliott, SAHSWI Vice President, discussing “Swedish themed products marketed during the 1960’s including Berggren tileswill be the topic for a separate post. 

Remembering Barbara and Exploring our Swedish Food Heritage

14 08 2022

On May 12, 2022, Barbara Froemming, SAHSWI Treasurer and Past President, passed away peacefully. Barbara was the longest serving President for the Society, serving for 12 years. The society was established in 1975 as a part of planning for the Bicentennial celebrations to recognize the Swedish Americans and their descendant’s impact to the state of Wisconsin. Barbara is one descendent that is recognized for her leadership and dedication to the Swedish-Americans in Wisconsin. Her Grandmother and Grandfather on her mother’s side both came from Småland, Sweden, but from different cities, her grandmother came from Jönköping, her grandfather from Kalmar. Barbara was also officially recognized with an award of merit from the Swedish Council of America on Nov 4, 2016, for her outstanding contributions and many years of dedicated service to the Swedish American Community.

Barbara was a steadfast leader, well organized, ensuring Bylaws were followed, managed state and IRS filings and was the initiator and creator of many interesting programs for the Society meetings. One of her favorite topics was Swedish food and it was unfortunate that a meeting she planned to be held in March of 2020 titled “Exploring our Swedish Food Heritage” had to be cancelled due to the Covid 19 pandemic. To honor Barbara this meeting is now scheduled to be held on September 10, 2022.

Next meeting – Exploring our Swedish Food Heritage

September 10, 2022, 1:30 PM at Martin Luther Lutheran Church9235 West Bluemound RoadMilwaukee located just east of Milwaukee Zoo. Members of the Society will present their favorite Swedish dish, including samples for attendees to taste. The meeting is open to the public.

SAHSWI is not the same without Barbara, she is dearly missed, not only because of her leadership, but for the delightful, generous person she was, and for the delicious open face sandwiches she made for board and Fika meetings.