Ecclesiam res et talia sermocinamur -

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

There's a St. Canute?

Yes, we have an exhortation to St. Olaf and St. Canute on our blog. Yes, it's in Danish, even if I had to use an online dictionary to get it. Yes, they're both saints (and not just a college in Minnesota), and yes, there's a reason. Why? Well let me tell you.

It just so happens that my family is Danish -- you can't tell it from looking at most of us (something about marrying an Italian seems to wash out the Nordic complection), but 130 years ago we were milking cows in Schleswig-Holstein. After the Franco-Danish war, some members of the family immigrated to the US, and gave up their cows and eventually their former errors. In so doing, they abandoned most of their former cultural heritage and didn't teach their children the Danish language.

Thus, today, we have only two elements of our Danish ancestry left: the knowledge that we came from there, and a Danish birthday song that makes anyone coming to a family birthday party for the first time not want to repeat the experience. The only problem was that we didn't actually remember what the words to the "birthday song" meant ... (this led my uncle to hypothesize hopefully that it was a drinking song, and that we had been singing "Beer! Beer! Beer! all those years at my grandmother's house. Incidentally, and disappointingly for my uncle, it later turned out that the song is birthday boilerplate: "happiness and long life to you, hurray!")

The former element of our heritage, the memory that we came from Denmark, is more amorphous -- and it is also how we get to having St. Olaf and St. Canute being asked for prayers on this blog. My grandfather, requiescat in pacem, was proud of being a third generation American of Danish ancestry. He wanted his children to remember this as well. Thus, he threatened for years to name one of them OLAF CANUTE, after two of Scandinavia's greatest kings and saints. (And it would also be neat -- when was the last time you met someone who went by "Ollie"? I'm sure it's been too long.) This is something, as Churchill would say, up with which my grandmother would not put. Having been threatened with the same eventuality, the other contributer to this blog has made it known that it is something up with which SHE will not put. So, in compensation for the lack of children for them to be patrons of, and in commemoration of the "struggle" that resulted in there not being such children, and in commemoration of ancestors, we here invoke the prayers of these saints and promote their long-neglected culti.

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Blogger Layla said...

You silly Danish men ought to quit taking up with Irish women (Irish women born on October 11, at that!) if you want to pass on these names. I'll give you all the Padraigs, Brendans, and Seamuses you can stand, though. ;)

And what you say about the birthday song isn't necessarily true. I'm still around, aren't I?

1:14 PM  
Blogger Der Tommissar said...

A compromise...

Name one child Knute. That would satisfy the Danish half, and remembering Knute Rockne should satisfy your Irish half.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Layla said...

Oh, good heavens. Please don't encourage him.

6:33 PM  

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