My Scandinavian grandmothers used to say “Uff da” pretty frequently when we visited them in Minnesota. At least it seemed frequent to me. Since I grew up in North Atlanta, where absolutely nobody said it, it stood out from the usual “Well, bless your heart!” I always thought of it as a Norwegian “Good Grief!” When all the ginger cookies were eaten minutes before dinner, you might hear an “Uff da!” from my grandmother, Millie, in the kitchen. Another thing that was more of a threat than an exclamation was lutefisk. “Stacy Jo, we’ll have to have lutefisk for Christmas when you come up.” Why was it a threat? I will refer to the Urban Dictionary to define lutefisk:
“Disgusting fish dish served anywhere Scandinavian grandmothers lurk, in the U.S. usually on holidays or other “special occasions.” Also makes a frequent appearance on smorgasbords. Best described as fish Jello. Tastes bad and smells worse. Most acidic dish known to man (no joke). Dried codfish is reconstituted in lye (breaking down proteins/any structure), “washed out” with water for a couple of days, and boiled into oblivion. White fish served with a white sauce often on a white plate. Yum! In Minnesota the main event at “lutefisk feeds” organized by the Sons of Norway to benefit the local Lutheran church.”by Scandochick
Fortunately, I only had to eat it once. I knew I was Scandinavian, even if I drank sweet tea and liked fried okra more. I have two Sons of Norway cookbooks in my kitchen to prove it.
DNA tests determined I’m 98% Scandinavian +/-
With the results of these tests, I am convinced I’m the descendant of a Viking shield-maiden (skjoldsmøyer). What is a shield maiden? It is a female Viking warrior. If you are familiar with History Channel’s Vikings, Netflix’s Last Kingdom, and (possibly) female warriors in Assassins Creed Valhalla you know who I’m talking about. I like to think I have qualities similar to Lagertha Lothbrok, the most famous of the shield maidens, a mother and ruler of what will become Norway. Why am I similar? I’m TOUGH. I am a mom, I do what has to be done for my family and that says it all.
My husband, Greg, knows this and had a special shield maiden necklace made! It’s above on the right and I love it. It is such a precious gift because I know he truly understands: I may not look tough on the outside but I am the woman who makes it through the storm. You automatically become the strongest woman you can be. My ancestors ate lutefisk and were fearless enough to sail to distance lands, probably pillaging and plundering. Now hopefully people are more kind, thoughtful and constructive than then, but you are still a shield maiden and can conquer anything.
Want to know more about shield maidens, valkyries and female warriors? Check out this EXTENSIVE article at History Curator.