January 16 marks Founders’ Day – the day in 1895 when 18 Norwegian immigrants came together to establish a mutual assistance organization that has grown into the largest Norwegian cultural organization in the world.

Driven to find a solution to financial hardships that many Norwegian-American families faced due to the onset of the economic depression, the founders naturally looked to Norway for ideas. Borrowing from an assistance plan in Trondheim, where for a weekly fee families could receive “free” medical care, the founders cultivated an organization that would provide assistance in times of financial crisis as well as celebrate the customs and traditions of Norway.

Eleven of the original 18 members were elected to serve as officers and Sons of Norway grew rapidly, incorporating in 1898. By the end of 1900 there were 12 lodges in Minnesota, and the Sons of Norway concept traveled with Norwegian immigrants across the Upper Midwest. Today, there are nearly 380 lodges with 53,000 members across the U.S., Canada and Norway.

Founders’ Day is an opportunity to celebrate your membership and recognize the contributions and foresight of the 18 founders. Take this day to share with friends, family members and other acquaintances all of the great things that Sons of Norway and your local lodge do for you and your community. Get people motivated to learn more about Sons of Norway this Founders’ Day by inviting prospective members to a lodge event or your next lodge meeting.

On January 16 – Founders’ Day – be sure to wear your pins, vests or other Sons of Norway regalia with pride.