Welcome to Poulsbo. And welcome to Viking Fest

May 17 is to Americans of Norwegian ancestry what April 24 is to Americans of Irish ancestry, Sept. 15-16 is to Americans of Mexican ancestry, and July 4 is to all of us. (And let us not forget the importance of June 6 to Americans of Swedish ancestry and Dec. 6 to Americans of Finnish ancestry.)

Each of those dates represent a watershed moment when people dared to shake the bonds of oppression, to be free and independent peoples, to create a more just society.

Poulsbo’s Viking Fest takes place each year the weekend closest to May 17, Norway’s Constitution Day. And it’s a day all of us — no matter where our family trees took root — can join in solidarity with our brethren of Norse ancestry and celebrate our common bonds. For whatever the reason our immigrant ancestors came to the United States — economic, environmental, political, religious — their journeys led to this place on Liberty Bay.

As we celebrate Viking Fest, we acknowledge the sacrifices of those ancestors who, out of necessity, made their home in a new land, and we give thanks that their paths led them here. We acknowledge the millennia of stewardship of this place by its First People, and pledge to do our part to be good caretakers of the environment that sustains us. We continue to pray for those working to build free and just societies in the lands of our forebearers and elsewhere in the world. And we welcome and embrace those who join us here — just as we were welcomed and embraced — adding their cultures and values and teachings to the fabric of this community.

Poulsbo’s population is increasingly diverse (this year’s Viking Fest features Irish and Mexican music and dance, reflecting two demographics that are among the largest in Poulsbo). But we all can relate to the significance and purpose of Norway’s Constitution Day. And on May 17, we all can take pride in the words, “Velkommen til Poulsbo.”

Welcome to Poulsbo. And welcome to Poulsbo’s Viking Fest celebration.

— In Kitsap Weekly: Ardis Morrow and Bill Austin named grand marshals of the 2017 Viking Fest Parade

— On KitsapDailyNews.com: Photo galleries and updated coverage of the Viking Fest events and contests.