2nd Generation Day - 2009

Mark Sørensen.
Second Generation Dane.

An odd assortment of images and ideas come to mind when thinking about what it means to me to be a second generation Dane.

At first I find it hard to think of a Danish identity growing up in Canada but upon reflection there are some things that this heritage has given me that I do take for granted.

One of the first times I realized being Danish was different than other people was at a young age in school. Some of the other school kids were talking about their middle names. They had ones like Thomas, Peter and Elizabeth. I of course said they had some pretty funny sounding middle names, and told them that mine was a normal one. Of course they asked and I told them proudly mine was Dybkar same as my sister. Thankfully they either didn't believe me or forgot my middle name.

Like a lot of second generation Danes here, one of the greatest influences of Danish Culture came from the church.

Growing up with things that seemed natural to me required a lot of explaining to my early friends.

One of the more interesting ones to explain was how we dressed up in costumes to knock a cat out a barrel to find out who would be king and queen. And of course we did this in church sometime in February.

For mid summer I told some classmates how at my church we would gather outside at sunset on a farm and burn a witch. Again a ritual that required a lot more explanation than I could give at that young age.

I think in retrospect many of these stories seemed a bit beyond belief to non-Danes.

Maybe because Denmark is such a small country might explain why we hold onto some of these things. Growing up I remember some great things about being Danish.
I got Lego toys that nobody else had ever seen.
My uncle would send over really neat Christmas plates every year.
Of course having Christmas on the 24th where I got to have presents a day early.
And always looking for the almond in the Desert (Dad found it last year), this is something I have even passed onto my non-Danish friends

With my mother Ann teaching Sunday school and my father John also involved in the church my sister and I were here as well.
Going through confirmation classes with Pastor Paulson made us learn more about the Bible than some of our friends who went to church more often than us.

At the age of fifteen I remember getting confirmed, going back to St. Catharines for a Brunch with the family and guests at the house.
I even remember waiting for the meal while we had four toasts with Aquavit.
I then I remember a little less of that afternoon.

Moving into adulthood I did spend less time at the church but my family was a great source of Danish influence.
Aunt Hermy who moved to Canada with her parents when she was very young seemed more Danish than any Dane I could think of growing up.

When my wife and I decided to get married it seemed natural to do it as a Danish Lutheran.
She was of German background so she of course liked Preben as his German was very good.
As a Canadian Dane to me it made it proper to have Preben marry us in a Danish service.
We had the Kransekage, a Danish minister and good beer, all things to make a Dane proud.

It seems an identity that is inescapable for some.
It is filled with memories of good times here in Grimsby and traditions as solid as a good middle name.

And finally, one last word on my middle name. When I started running my running friends in Hamilton and Burlington always called me Dybkar to which I now enjoyed the comment. So when a lovely young woman joined our running group, after a few months I called her to ask her out. I said hello Heidi its Mark Sorensen, and she responded with a polite OK. I started making some small talk to her and after a while she stopped me and asked who I was! My thoughts of her being interested in me were evaporating quickly when she said that. I told her I was Mark who runs with her friends Doug and Alison, she then said loudly OH DYBKAR. So that was how I hade a first date with my wife who only knew me as Dybkar.