Guest Post by Michael Petersen
I remember when I was sixteen, finding my farfar (grandpa) as he walked out of his extensive garden between an arched break in the tall hedges by their old west Jutland farmhouse. My farmor (grandma) had asked me to fetch him for dinner. He was holding a long wooden box full of freshly harvested vegetables. I’m sure Farfar’s inner clock told him that it was nearing dinnertime, as he didn’t look surprised to see me. There was no need for words. He simply nodded in greeting and said in his dry, thick west coast Danish accent (Jysk), “Næh Michael, så holder jeg fyr aften” (‘well so Michael, I’m hanging it up for the evening’). Another solemn nod followed, softened with a wry smile. We then walked quietly side by side together across the cobblestone farm courtyard to share in another of Farmor’s wonderful meals.
The words “Fyr Aften” have thus always meant to me “Quitting Time” or “Time to put your feet up and relax.” But those same two words also directly translate to “Guy Evening.” So the term is fitting for a guy’s group get together through the Danish American Center (DAC). I freely admit that we have, without a doubt, taken our inspiration and desire to have a guy’s night from the women’s group at the DAC called TøseAften. Many of us have spouses and significant others on ‘that’ side.
Fyr Aften is a group of adult men with ties to the Danish American Community either through heritage, a Danish spouse, Danish birth, or perhaps they’ve studied in Denmark. That love of Denmark and its culture is certainly a group bond. An estimated half of the group speaks Danish, and those who do are quick to translate or teach those that don’t speak Danish. We have been meeting now for a few years, with the last two being the most consistent. We’ve now established a regular schedule of meeting on: the last Friday of each month from September – May, between 6pm and midnight at the Danish American Center (DAC). We find the summer schedule to be too busy to meet up, and thus we take a break. In the few years we’ve been meeting, the age group has varied anywhere from 18 – 74. The only age restriction is that you need to be an adult male and respect the legal MN drinking age of 21. We’ve explored several events such as go-cart racing, bowling, and even an introduction to firearms at a pistol range.
We took it a notch further and did a weekend ice fishing trip on Lake Winnibigosh this past February, which was fantastic. Reservations have already made to return to Lake ‘Winni’ in Feb. 2016. There are discussions around a group camping trip this summer. All our events revolve around sharing a meal together, more often than not it being a Danish favorite. We’ve found that what we probably enjoy most is fixing a meal together at the DAC, sharing some drinks, and then settling in to play cards or games. The guys all pitch in towards dinner, dessert and kringle for coffee, so it usually costs each of us between $10-12. In short, we create ‘hygge’ together while getting to know each other better, for a lasting bond, and enjoy the amazing gathering place that we have in the Danish American Center. When you think about it, it’s not very often that men get a chance to socialize. Fyr Aften is one such opportunity at the DAC.