The Fifteenth Annual JulDans at New Jersey Vasa Park threw the doors open for Christmas as Scandinavian Americans gathered from across the metropolitan area and beyond for an evening of traditional food, music and dancing on Nov. 24.

The energy in the room was positively electric as Jeanne Erikkson Widman Andersen and Smorgasbandet lead the children in a spontaneous sing-along before leading the entire gathering in the traditional Swedish Julringlekkar (Christmas ring games) that capped off the night with a giddy, high energy romp around Viking Hall. The ring games culminated with the much anticipated “Long Dance” where Jeanne lead the throng around the room, winding between the tables, into the kitchen, out the door and down the walkway, and eventually re-entering Viking Hall through a side door only to find that the end of the long line hadn’t even left the room yet. By all accounts, the evening was a first class “scream,” leaving many to say this was the best JulDans they can remember.

Willamina Groething, district chaplain for New Jersey District Six of the Vasa Order, began the evening with an invocation and long time Vasa member Harry Swanson was honored with a seat, in memoriam, at the executive table with Vasa Park president Jack Hanright and district master Kevin DeFeo, who welcomed the guests on behalf of New Jersey District Six.

Sarah Jaran of Mount Olive was the evening’s Lucia in the candlelight pageant that honored Sweden’s beloved saint. At the end, the entire gathering sang "Silent Night" in Swedish, Norwegian and then English.
Plans are already under way for next year’s event which is scheduled for Saturday, November 30—as always the Saturday following Thanksgiving. See for more information and to view photographs from this and previous Juldanser.
Text & photography: Roy Groething

More images from the fifteenth annual Juldans: Photo collage from JulDans at New Jersey Vasa Park