January 9, 2014

The Rebild Society: A Danish – American Friendship Association


Danish rootsLast week I wrote about the New Year’s Eve journal entry made by Miss Mary, which I had found in the hope chest.  In it she wrote about the anticipation she had for the New Year, and her life as she was embarking on her journey into adulthood.  Although at the time she wrote it Mary was much younger than I am today, I still feel a strong kinship with her.  She often writes about many things in her life, including her relationship with her grandmother, Emma, and it reminds me of the bond between Mormor and I.  Being born in Denmark, Mormor has taught me so much about my Danish heritage, just as Emma did for Mary.


Preservation of our Danish culture and heritage here in the United States is important to us Danes.  We are proud of where we came from and where we are going, and we want to share it with the world!  This is why organizations like the Danish Home of Chicago (started by Emma Thorsen, her granddaughter Mary, and ten other women in 1891) and their friends at The Rebild Society are so important.


RebildThe Danish-American Rebild Society describes itself as an ‘umbrella organization’ formed over 100 years ago in order to unify the many Danish clubs, churches, schools, lodges, newspapers and many other organizations that were started by Danish immigrants here in America.


In 1910 a group of Danish-Americans purchased 200 acres of land for 20,000 Kroner (less than $4,000 today) in the Denmark countryside known as Rebild Bakker (Rebild Hills).  On August 5, 1912 this land was then given to his Majesty King Christian X as a permanent memorial to all Danish-Americans with the purpose that it never be cultivated and remain open to the public for all to enjoy.  That same year the first Rebild Festival was celebrated to commemorate the more than 300,000 Danish immigrants that came to the USA during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Recognized as the largest 4th of July celebration outside of the United States, it is a testament to the strong bonds that continue today between the US and Denmark.


photo courtesy of The Rebild Society

photo courtesy of The Rebild Society

This annual pilgrimage is a celebrated tradition for the thousands of Danish-Americans who make the trip back to the old country, often with their children and grandchildren. Participating in the festival, as well as the many social events that take place, serve to further unite the two countries and their people each year and celebrate this amazing bond.


Find out more about The Rebild Society and the Rebild Festival at www.danishrebildsociety.com and Velkommen til Rebildselskabet! – Welcome to the society!


Danish Pride

Upcoming Event:

The next Chapter meeting and luncheon are scheduled for Saturday, February 21, 2015 at The Danish Home with a traditional hot frikadeller meal and beverages. Price is $20.00 per person. The social hour starts at 11:30 a.m. with the luncheon at noon downstairs and then we move upstairs for the meeting at 1 p.m. in The Home’s living room. Please RSVP to Chapter Secretary Linda Steffensen at 847-884-8079 by February 16!