UPPER PENINSULA, Mich./NORWAY (WJMN) – The Upper Peninsula is rich in Scandinavian and Nordic heritage, thanks to the Great European Migration in the 19th century.
According to the Library of Congress, while Sweden sent more emigrants to the United States than any other Scandinavian country, Norway sent a greater percentage of its population, nearly one million people between 1820 and 1920. The U.P. is where many of those Scandinavians settled and delved into the mining and agriculture industries. With such a rich connection between the U.P. and countries like Finland, Sweden, and Norway, I spoke with one Norwegian woman on Nordic life and how it compares to Scandinavian Americans today.
“It’s no surprise that we’re pretty outdoorsy,” said Beate Christin Gran, the senior advisor at Visit Norway. “We like to get outside, and enjoy nature of any kind, whether all year round. We have a pretty good work-life balance. Family comes first. Another typical thing about being a Norwegian, we love to escape to our cabins or ‘hytte’ as we like to call it, usually by the mountains or by the coast. And that’s usually the base for any outdoor adventures, like hiking, biking, skiing. We play board games, and spend time with family and friends.”
Norway and the Upper Peninsula share similar geographic and climatic features, including those brutally cold, harsh winters. Gran shares how Norwegians get through the winter months.
“I know Norway, Michigan have very snowy months and long winters as we do. So we can relate to that. So the one thing we do in Norway the country that we’re very good at is crafting coziness and these perfect moments any time of the year. It’s a lifestyle concept we call ‘kos’, it translates to coziness, basically.
And the classic perception of this usually entails feeling warm, safe, happy, being with the ones you love, friends, and family. Usually some candles, good food, and drinks. And that is something that maybe we have in common, with Michigan and Norway the country is that we create these moments to get through these long, hard winters.”
As you can see the people in Norway and in the U.P. continue to relate to one another, not only through the stories of our history but also how we live throughout our daily lives.
Gran explains a few essential Norwegian phrases.