The Sons of Norway brought holiday cheer into the homes of members of the Stoughton community on Monday, Dec. 30.
For over a decade, the group has traveled around Stoughton, caroling at members’ homes and delivering bags of treats in a tradition known as Julebukking.
The Scandanvian custom takes place during the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Originally participants dressed in goatskins to conceal their identity as they carol to neighbors homes. The homeowners would then have to guess who each caroler was.
Although Sons of Norway members don’t dress in goat skin costumes, Arneson says it is a popular outreach activity especially for those who aren’t physically able to attend meetings or who have been ill. Carolers visit individual homes, nursing homes and apartment complexes.
“It is so much fun for those going out as it gives us a chance to sing, to see our members and others we know, and to bring some joy to them,” Darlene Arneson, president of the group, said.
Founded in 1895, The Sons of Norway is the largest Norwegian-American organization in the world. Julebukking continues the groups original purpose of protecting members and their families from the financial hardships during times of sickness or death. According to its website, the goal of the group has since expanded to include the preservation of Norwegian heritage and culture.
Susan Slinde, whose home was the first stop for the julebukking group, had attended her husband’s funeral earlier that day.
Another member, Doris Helmke, lost her husband at the end of November.
“Don always was a gracious host to the julebukking group and it was pretty touching for all of us that Doris wanted us to come,” Arneson said.
Not only do the Sons of Norway provide treats to those they visit, but their hosts provide some in return. Wine, champagne, cookies, krumkake and other refreshments are served to the carolers.
The Stoughton chapter of the Sons of Norway is District Five and they refer to themselves as the “friendly fifth.” Julebukking is one way they demonstrate that mantle.
“We aren’t the best singers but we have a lot of fun. It’s great community outreach and another important Norwegian tradition to carry on here in the Stoughton area,” Arneson said.