Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for Sigrid

another family that needs a bit more work 

There are lots of given names that begin with S in my family file. We have individuals named Samuel, Sarah, Simon, Stephen/Steven and Susan/Susanna. Since I am focusing on Scandinavian names in this A-Z Challenge, I selected one of the more unusual names - so today it is all about Sigrid. We have 5 women named Sigrid in my family, all Norwegian.

Sigrid comes from the Old Norse name Sigior. This is a compound name and the elements are sigr (victory) + frior (beautiful, fair). Variations on Sigrid appear as Siri and Sigfrid in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. Sigrid is ranked in the top 50 names in both Norway and Sweden, however it is rarely used in the United States (no surprise there!). To learn more about the name Sigrid check out Behind the Name (and be sure to check those links to the right-hand side of the page for additional information). September 15th is the name day for Sigrid in Sweden.

The most famous Scandinavian Sigrid (and my personal favorite) is Sigrid Undset (born in Denmark but raised in Norway), who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928. Her best known work was Kristin Lavransdatter, a trilogy about life in Scandinavia (from a female point of view) in the Middle Ages. Sigrid had a fascinating life - including her family's early migration, her early failed attempts at publication, her world travels and marriage, her successful career as a novelist, her conversion from Lutheranism to Catholicism (a scandal at the time!), her flight from Norway during WWII (for opposing Hitler and speaking up for the plight of Jews), and her subsequent return to Norway after the war. Sigrid Undset is depicted on a Norwegian 500 kroner note and a two-kroner postage stamp from 1982. Sweden put her on a stamp in 1998 (this information comes from Wikipedia article on Sigrid Undset). A list of her published works is included in the Wikipedia article. If you want to learn more about her published works, check out her entry on Worldcat (a great way to find out more about authors!). I am a huge fan of historical fiction that is clever, well-researched, detailed, accurate and well-written.

Sigrid Undset ranks right up there with my favorite historical fiction author, Dorothy Dunnett. These women had an phenomenal ability to transport and immerse their readers into fascinating times in history to experience the life and culture of a distant past. If you have Scandinavian ancestors, be sure to check out the translated works of Sigrid Undset.

See you back here tomorrow for the letter T!

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