A traditional Scandinavian Fish Boil is a visual as well as gustatory event – the new year’s first full moon, snowy woods, lights shining from the old schoolhouse windows, luminarias marking the path, crisp snow and hot coffee, a sudden blaze as the huge pots are brought to a cleansing boilover… It’s a deep winter event to remember!
Fresh whitefish, potatoes, and onions are served on a warm plate drizzled with melted butter; cole slaw, homemade bread, and cherry-pie squares or some other delicacy complete the menu. Heated dining is available in the renovated old Dane School… it’s well worth the cost. Sign-ups are very helpful so we know amounts of food to prepare. Contact the church if you can come!
“For-a-World-in-Need” Benefit Dinner
Begun as a benefit dinner to raise funds for earthquake ravaged Haiti, this meal is a community event catered by West Denmark to raise funds for the ELCA World Hunger/Disaster Relief programs. It is held as a service to the community and to neighbors we will never meet.
Wake up your taste buds with an excellent meal from the Caribbean or Syria or some other corner of the world – and feel really good about it! 100% of the proceeds go to the specific cause indicated at the meal.
Fastelavns is an annual festivity held the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Everyone is invited to an evening of family fun (hitting the ‘cat’ out of the barrels) before the Lenten worship series begins.
This is an ancient Danish tradition. According to tradition, a black cat was placed in a barrel suspended from a tree branch. Batting the barrel ensued. The cat was chased out of town when it escaped as the barrel was broken open. It probably didn’t need much encouragement to leave town. With the cat went the community’s collective sin. As Denmark became Protestant, the festival lost some of its superstitious nature, candy filled the barrel, and children’s games and sweet buns marked the festivities preceding the 6 weeks of Lenten solemnity.
At West Denmark, we sometimes begin with a pot luck supper (no surprise) and then take turns batting at three wooden barrels. Children go first, followed by women, then the men. A small cloth cat is tied into each barrel along with candy, coins, peanuts and straw. Children run to collect the goodies as the barrels break, and the batter who “releases” the cat becomes royalty for the year. A folk-dance promenade (and coffee) follows the crowning.
All are welcome – spectators and active participants each have a role to play!
Providing excellent and unique musical events to this area, the West Denmark Heritage Council brings concerts to West Denmark. This is a growing cultural ministry to the community with exciting events always on the horizon. Scandinavian folk musicians touring through the area make a stop at West Denmark, and the West Denmark Fiddle School enters its 10th year, as Harald Haugaard heads up an international band of instructors. Filling the old Parish Hall or church with their music and charm, these concerts and musical events are a gift to the spirit. Tickets are available at the door or as advertised for each event.
Church-wide Rummage Sale
Every other year in April a curious array of ‘good enough’ stuff is arranged for sale. Donations of household decorations and do-dads, children’s things, tools and shop equipment, yard and garden items, furniture are welcome (clothing is not).
So, if you’re considering cleaning out your garage or attic or trying to make a path through the basement – save it for the West Denmark Rummage Sale!
10% of the proceeds benefit a local need.
It could hardly be spring without the West Denmark Lutheran Church’s annual Æbleskiver supper! For over 60 years, church members have served the traditional Æbleskiver meal to neighbors and friends who come from a surprisingly wide circle. At the peak of the dinner rush, as many as 16 bakers skillfully turn batter into perfectly round Æbleskiver, the Danish version of a pancake, to go with locally made Medisterpølse – traditional Danish sausage, and Sodsuppe – fruit soup. The meal finishes with either Abelkage or Lemon Fluff for dessert – and, of course, lots of coffee.
Be our guest at the Æbleskiver dinner on the first Saturday in May, seating is from 3:30-7:00 pm at the West Denmark Parish Hall. Cost for the dinner is $15 for adults, $6 for youth 6-12, and children 5 and under free with paid adult. This day also includes a bake sale and raffles. It’s a good stop add while you’re out enjoying the area-wide Earth Arts Spring Tour.
Family Camp is an annual three day experience in the Folk School tradition of Denmark. July 1-3 fills the building and grounds of West Denmark with an extended family of participants. For us, “Family” describes the community we create. The participation of all generations, from infants to elders, of varying backgrounds and with diverse insights, enriches the experience.
All are welcome to join us as we work together, play together, and learn from each other.
In the tradition of Danish folk schools, you will have the chance to listen to and interact with engaging speakers, folk dance, sing, participate in skits, make crafts, share talents, eat good food, meet new friends, visit old friends over coffee, and relax in the beautiful, peaceful setting of the West Denmark Lutheran Church.
Registration is required as space, particularly for meals, is limited to 120 participants. See the West Denmark Family Camp Facebook page for posts and information – or contact the church.
July 4th Celebration
West Denmark carries on an old tradition of celebrating the 4th as a community with a pot luck noon dinner, a speaker or program, a bit of singing, and a friendly softball game. We end the afternoon with ice cream and coffee. Please plan to come and begin a new tradition for your holiday.
Harvest Fest takes place on the first Sunday of October. It is a fundraising event involving pot-luck dinner with prizes based on the year’s particular theme, a speaker, and activities for the whole family. These typically include a prize for the most impressive vegetable, a centerpiece competition, games and activities such as Scrabble, caroms, horseshoes, home-run derby, beanbag toss, three-legged race, etc. Afternoon coffee is served and the festival ends with singing – a buck a song. One of the highlights is the harvest display created each year by Norman – always a magnificent arrangement.
Begin your Christmas shopping with the cookies! In 2023, the second Saturday in December, beginning at 9 am, a beautiful display of holiday and delightful Scandinavian cookies will appear for sale by the pound at the West Denmark Parish Hall, 2492 170th Street, Luck. We plan to be back inside with cookies you choose yourself instead of the pre-packaged boxes necessitated by COVID.
Come early for best variety. Our congregation’s bakers also provide cookies for the United Pioneer Home Christmas Tea and for our elderly. A Tasty Christmas Tradition!
Part of West Denmark’s beloved Christmas tradition is the family Christmas program and the Juletre, or dancing around the Christmas tree. The program is intergenerational, consisting of Christmas carols, poems and songs by the Sunday School children, and an original skit often involving mischievous nisse – a staple of Danish folklore. The program ends with a reading of the nativity story. Then the chairs are put away and the lighted 15 foot tree is brought into the center of the room. One of the Happy Dane traditions is ring dancing around the Christmas Tree as carols are sung. Of course, coffee follows.
A few days after Christmas West Denmark carolers bring Christmas carols to the windows and doorways of our elderly members and friends, the warm up at a member’s home. It’s a good way to close the year.
Group tours and presentations of West Denmark Lutheran Church’s historical buildings and grounds offer an historical and insightful view of the lives of early immigrants. A guided (or self-guided with available booklet, written by Kathy Wilson) tour of these grounds provides an opportunity to discover how the descendants of early settlers honor and sustain their traditional culture and history.
Life-long learning is a hallmark of the Grundtvigian legacy. The Parish Hall occasionally hosts speakers on a variety of topics during Family Camp, Fourth of July programs, and Harvest Fest. In addition, lectures on topics of timely and local interest are occasionally arranged. A more formalized Speaker Series is under consideration to bring well regarded speakers to the area. Stay tuned!