The Big Yellow House – Historic Icelandic Home

Updated: Jul 26


In a rural farming community in the northeast corner of the North Dakota prairie is a thriving Icelandic community. It is amazing what a small group of volunteers can accomplish. Most come from the surrounding areas and some come from further away back to their roots in Pembina County to pitch in. The 2015 Þorrablót was once again a huge success with over 200 people in attendance including friends from Iceland, Canada, and many locations in the USA.

One of the Þorrablót presentations was by local native Robert Olgeirson. His sister, Shirley, owns and takes care of a beautiful historic Icelandic home called The Big Yellow House - along with her brother, Robert. More on the Big Yellow House after the poems. :)


Robert’s Remarks:

The first generation of those who came spoke Icelandic, and learned English as a second language. They taught their children to speak the language of their fathers.

But the next generation didn’t learn the language as well, if at all. I was one of those.

Mixed language for Spanish speakers is called Spanglish.

Maybe what we grew up with could be called “Icelish?”

The Third Generation - (Speaking Icelish)

by Robert Olgeirson

We don’t know all the words our grandfathers knew, but they littered the English we learned as we grew.

At Christmas we greeted with Gleðileg Jól, Silent-Night-choirs all sang Heims Um Ból.

“Hvað segir þú gott”/ What say you good? “Ekki neitt”/not much, we all understood.

“Komdu hérna” we said and then the dog came. “Go home” he ignored ‘til we said “fara heim”.

On days when they had troll-hair like Grýla, the girls would put on a scarf called a skylu.

Rusl is what we put in the trash, a pot called dallur cooked potatoes to mash.

Gerðu svo vel, meant dinner was starting, Góða Nótt, not goodnight, was said when departing.

With too many layers the terta’s not real, but it still will get eaten as it has an appeal.

We ate lifra pylsa, hardfiskur,and kleinur; with aunties named Sigrun and uncles named Einar.

Cuss words like helvíti were easily learned but using them loudly could get your butt burned.

“Talar þú íslensku?” the older folks asked. I didn’t but said as a joke, “ég tala bara Norsk”, which - in Icelandic - meant it was Norwegian I spoke.

I didn’t speak Norsk but there was really no risk, I might eat the lefse but not lutefisk.