NORDIC LODGE No. 708 is the Atlanta chapter of The Vasa Order of America, a national organization which is described in more detail below. Our Atlanta group has about 75 members and has been active continuously in the Atlanta Metro area since our founding in 1974. Most of our members have a connection to Sweden, but all of the five Nordic countries are represented. During each year, we host meals, celebrations and events centered around the cultural history and heritage of the Nordic nations. For us in recent years, these have included dinners, outdoor-party events and activities such as “Pea Soup Dinner,” “Påsk” (Easter), Valborgsmässoafton, Sankt Hans Afton (a Danish celebration in June), Midsommar, an annual Crayfish Dinner (“Kräftskiva”), an Anniversary Dinner, Christmas Dinner (“Julbord”), and the Lucia Celebration in December. Our regular business meetings usually include refreshments, and have included programs on topics such as Scandinavian immigration to the US, Viking discoveries, famous Swedish films and the film industry, well-illustrated travel presentations, and more. We exchange event-notices and collaborate with other Scandinavian-American organizations regularly, ensuring that our members can participate in as many cultural-heritage events as they wish. In general we meet on the fourth Sunday of the month, at 4 PM. Annual membership is $30.
THE VASA ORDER of America began more than a century ago as a benefit fraternal society for Swedish immigrants to the United States. Membership at the time was limited to Swedish born men who needed to learn the new language and ways of the new country. A benefit fund provided a small income to members during sickness, and a death benefit at the time would cover final expenses. The Order is named for Gustav Vasa, who liberated the country in the 16th century and became the first King of modern Sweden. The name of Vasa reflects the Order’s roots as a Swedish American Fraternal Organization.
Over the past century, many things have changed, and the Vasa Order has grown to meet the new needs of the Scandinavian American community. Where in the past, members looked to Vasa to help them learn the ways of the new country and provide them a means to share problems and solutions with their countrymen, today Vasa provides members a means to share their rich heritage with fellow Americans, and helps them to learn or remember the meaningful ways and values of the “Old Country.”
While Swedish in origin, the Vasa Order welcomes men and women over 14 years of age with Scandinavian roots (Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish or Icelandic), and their spouses, who would like to rediscover the traditions of their forefathers; and those who are not of Nordic ancestry but are committed to the promotion and advancement of Swedish and Nordic heritage and culture. We do this by encouraging the observance of special dates old and new, such as Midsummer, Leif Ericksson Day, etc. with proper festivities including Smorgasbord and Scandinavian music. While much of our activity occurs during the summer season, in mid-December it is hard to find a Vasa Lodge where Lucia is not observed.
There are more than one hundred and fifty local lodges in the Vasa Order, governed by 18 District lodges in the United States, Sweden and Canada.