It’s in the blood

About 30 years ago, in a doctoral examination, a student, Trygve Skarsten, a colleague, R. Pierce Beaver, and I, the historian of religion, got into a colloquy about ancient pagan rites of Norway. The Norse had had a thing about horses and horse blood, as I recall it. They rode the former and drank the latter.

Christianization did not mean the end of blood-ingesting and other such activities as would distress Jehovah's Witnesses. Skarsten proudly told us that his family of Norwegian-Americans were members of tugboat-crew labor unions in New York. Tryg remembered his Lutheran family eating "blood pudding," a tasty reflection of the old religion, in the 1940s. Recently I wrote Tryg, now a professor, and asked him if I correctly remembered this distinctive custom. Yes, he answered--and sent me pages from a 1947 Norwegian-American cookbook.


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