Gingerbread city brings taste of Scandinavian culture to DuluthBente Soderlind grew up in Bergen, Norway, home to the world’s largest gingerbread city. A resident of Minnesota for the past 13 years, Soderlind dreamed of re-creating Bergen’s gingerbread city here in Duluth. On Nov. 16 her dream came true.
By: Esther Piszczek , For the Budgeteer News
Bente Soderlind grew up in Bergen, Norway, home to the world’s largest gingerbread city, Pepperkakebyen, which is Norwegian for “Gingerbread City.” A resident of Minnesota for the past 13 years, Soderlind dreamed of re-creating Bergen’s gingerbread city here in Duluth. On Nov. 16 her dream came true.
Smells of evergreen and gingerbread welcome visitors to Duluth’s inaugural gingerbread city at the Sons of Norway Nordic Center at 23 N. Lake Avenue. It’s open to the public Fridays through Sundays from 5 to 8 p.m. through
Dec. 15. There is no admission charge. The gingerbread city is a collection point for nonperishable food items for the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank.
Soderlind’s dream began to take shape when Jane Pederson, a member of the Sons of Norway, applied to the Sons of Norway Foundation Humanitarian Fund for a “Helping Hands to Children” grant. When Pederson’s grant was funded, she asked Soderlind and UMD art and design professor
Alison Aune, who has studied and taught Nordic cultural traditions, to help her organize the city.
“Part of the [Sons of Norway’s] mission is to involve the community and teach about Norway in part, and all Scandinavian culture and traditions. We value family and community. It’s really been a wonderful experience,” said Pederson.
The grant Pederson won allowed 31 children, ages 3 to 12, to attend a Nov. 3 family gingerbread-making class taught by Janet Gozanski of Superior, Wis. In the interest of time, Gozanski pre-built gingerbread houses for the children, who then learned how to decorate them.
Duluth’s gingerbread city is comprised of approximately 90 houses, made of gingerbread baked in the Norwegian tradition, and submitted by teachers, home- and public school students, other individuals, and crafting groups. The city includes a replica of the Lift Bridge, also made of gingerbread.
“It is so exciting! This was a real community grassroots effort. It was magic,” remarked Aune.
Aune and Soderlind assisted Sandy Thompson, owner of Takk for Maten Cafe, in presenting gingerbread house workshops for Duluth public school teachers “so they could learn about the tradition and bring it back to their classrooms,” said Aune.
A gingerbread plane filled with gingerbread Sons of Norway Nortun Lodge members is en route to Bergen for display in Pepperkakebyen. “It was just fun work. I’m ready to do it again next year,” said Soderlind.