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Grand Forks woman helps granddaughter celebrate May 17 in style

Karen Axvig of Grand Forks loves to celebrate Syttende Mai, and she wants her 6-year-old granddaughter to celebrate it too--in style. Axvig recently used her skills as a seamstress to sew a bunad, the traditional Norwegian costume, for her grandd...

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Rebekah Axvig, 6, marches in the children's parade as part of a Syttende Mai celebration Wednesday in Oslo, Norway. She's dressed in the traditional Norwegian festive costume, a bunad, that her grandmother, Karen Axvig of Grand Forks, recently made for her.

Karen Axvig of Grand Forks loves to celebrate Syttende Mai, and she wants her 6-year-old granddaughter to celebrate it too-in style.

Axvig recently used her skills as a seamstress to sew a bunad, the traditional Norwegian costume, for her granddaughter Rebekah Axvig, who's in Oslo, Norway, where her parents are attending law school.

Grandma Karen made the entire bunad outfit, except for the apron, which was sewn and embroidered in Hardanger, a traditional form of Norwegian needlework, by a woman in Fairdale, N.D., many years ago, she said.

Karen's son, and Rebekah's dad, Nathan is a Red River High School and UND alumnus. Rebekah is in first grade in a Norwegian school, and her brother Lucas, 10, is in fifth grade at an international school in Oslo.

After a year in Norway, the family plans to return to their Denver, Colo., home in August, said Karen Axvig, who flew to Oslo last week for a visit and to celebrate Syttende Mai with Nathan's family.

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"My heritage is 100 percent Norwegian and I grew up near Fairdale, where we celebrated May 17 every year," she said. "It's my favorite day of the year."

Here are some Syttende Mai activities that are planned in this area:

• Syttende Mai celebration lunch, Sons of Norway Gyda Varden Lodge, Grand Forks-11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, 1401 Ninth Ave. S. For more information, call (701) 772-9963.

• Thief River Falls' Norwegian Heritage Week-Enjoy lefse and other goodies from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at Northern State Bank. Syttende Mai Smorgasbord, 5 to 7 p.m., Zion Lutheran Church, serving meatballs, potatoes and Norwegian food including lefse, fruit soup and rommegrot. Cost is $12 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger. For more information, call (218) 681-2116. Other activities are planned through Saturday. For full schedule, go to facebook.com/snorrelodge.

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At her home in Norway, Rebekah Axvig, 6, models the bunad, a traditional Norwegian garment, that her grandmother, Karen Axvig of Grand Forks, recently made for her. (Submitted photo)

Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at pknudson@gfherald.com or (701) 780-1107.
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