Text: The one thing I can think of really is Lefsa. We always eat it with my Norwegian grandparents on holidays, like Christmastime. It’s like a dessert, like a more bitter tortilla and you put butter and sugar in it. Sometimes we make it, if we have time, but it takes a very long time to bake. You can buy it too. I never found a Swedish or Norwegian market in Atlanta, but most of my family we celebrate holidays with lives in Minnesota which is like where most of the Scandinavian population in the US lives. And there’s this famous Norwegian prayer my grandparents will always say on Christmas or other holidays before we eat it. It’s called I Jesu Navn.
Context: K grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, but currently attends USC. She is 22 years old, was raised Catholic, and her parents are of Scandinavian descent. The prayer K mentions, I Jesu Navn, translates to “In the name of the Lord” in English. I was able to find a version of the prayer online,
I Jesu navn går vi til bords
Spise og drikke på ditt ord
Deg Gud til ære oss til gavn
Så får vi mat i Jesu navn.
In the name of the Lord we sit down at the table
To eat and to drink by the power of your blessing
In honor of the Lord, so we may prosper
We receive our food in the name of the Lord.
Analysis: Lefsa is a traditional Norwegian food usually made with potatoes, water, flour, salt and served with butter and sugar. It’s reminiscent of traditional flatbreads found in other cultures like tortillas as K compares them to, Greek pita bread, or Kenyan japati. It is interesting to see that there can be different oikotypes of food just like there can be with other folklore. It’s also interesting that K associates the prayer I Jesu Navn with holidays, given that it’s a simple table prayer, and could be said everyday. This is likely because K sees her grandparents most often on holidays and this is when they make the most effort to emphasize their culture. Something that might be considered a part of day-to-day life in Norway becomes a holiday tradition in the context of a new country.