Norwegian Offers to Repay Icelandic Act of Charity Skip to content

Norwegian Offers to Repay Icelandic Act of Charity

Reidun Hellisnes, who received a donation of clothing from an Icelandic family when she was a girl in 1940 when Norway was hit by en economic depression, has been thankful ever since and is now offering her help to that family.

Many Icelandic families offered assistance to the Norwegian neighbors in 1940. Because of the clothing Hellisnes received, she could be confirmed presentably. When she learnt of the current economic crisis in Iceland, she called the daughters of her well-wisher and asked if she could help in some way, Morgunbladid reports.

“My sister and I were speechless over her loyalty,” said Kristín Thorsteinsdóttir. Their father had studied in Norway and had since been fond of Norwegians. When he learned that Norwegians were having a difficult time he decided to help.

“He sent some of my clothing and placed a letter with my name and address in the pocket of one of the jackets in case the recipient wanted to contact me,” Thorsteinsdóttir recalled. Hellisnes did write back and she and Thorsteinsdóttir remained in contact for a few years.

Thorsteinsdóttir’s sister then went on to study in Norway and got to know Hellisnes in person. They stayed in touch for some time after that, but eventually they lost contact.

“I few days ago [Hellisnes] called my sister, told her that she had never forgotten about the donation of clothing—her confirmation clothing—and asked whether she could help us sisters with anything,” Thorsteinsdóttir said.

“We were touched by her consideration; it shows what a friendly people Norwegians are. Although we are not in want for anything we appreciate that our friendship with the Norwegians is not forgotten,” Thorsteinsdóttir concluded.

Confirmation is an important coming-of-age ritual in the Nordic countries.

Click here to watch an audio slideshow of a typical Icelandic confirmation.

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