My mother’s heritage is Swedish. My father’s Danish. When my parents announced their engagement in 1942, their respective families said “you are marrying a Swede?” “A Dane?” “You are no longer my son.” “My daughter.” It was bad. My father was also nearly 10 years older than my mother. That was an issue too. When I was born, my mother’s mother refused to see me for several weeks (“that little Dane“). Can you imagine?? Her father did, however, come to check me out after a week. I guess I put on a show because things started to get a little better.
Swedes and Danes have different spellings for last names. “PetersOn” is a Swedish spelling. “PetersEn” is the Danish spelling. Occasionally, I see notes from people we know well – “PetersOn.” Harrumphh. Especially since “Scott PetersOn” is on death row in California. “Scot PetersOn” was indicted for his failure to act at the Stoneman Douglas school shooting. Then there’s Drew Peterson and Michael Peterson who killed their wives. They are Swedes.
Today, most people look upon Scandinavians — Swedes, Danes, Norwegians and Finns — as pretty much the same. But they are quite different culturally. There is an old story about a dozen Danes, a dozen Finns, a dozen Norwegians and a dozen Swedes — all strangers –who all suddenly find themselves grouped together in a room. In a half hour, the Danes are off having a party. The Finns are all in a sauna. The Norwegians are off skiing. And the Swedes are still standing around waiting to be introduced. That’s probably not a bad characterization. Me? I’m probably the quintessential half and half. Let’s have a party. . . . after we’re introduced. . . . .