Visitors and residents of Lindsborg Monday may find themselves face-to-face with walking, talking waffles.
The eye-catching costumes, complete with whipped cream toping and fruit, are part of a Swedish tradition Lindsborg has adopted in recent years.
Våffeldagen, also known as Waffle Day, is celebrated in the town with a day-long parade of waffle-themed grub, games and garb. More than anything, it is an excuse to chat with friends and welcome spring.
“It’s eccentrically hometown,” Kathy Richardson, this year’s event co-organizer, said, “and I guess that’s what I like so much about it. We’re not taking things so seriously. It’s just time for a hot waffle and a good laugh.”
The spirit of the day is not unlike its origins.
It stems from a simple misunderstanding between European dialects. The original holiday
“Vårfrudagen” was meant to commemorate the day Mary was visited by an angel to declare she would give birth to Jesus. This date is nine months to the day before Christmas.
Since various dialects pronounced the holiday differently, however, thealtered “Våfferdagen” was mistaken for “Våffeldagen.” Swedes have since used this misunderstanding as a reason to celebrate waffles and the start of spring.
Lindsborg, proudly known as little Sweden, prides itself in traditional holidays. Carla Wilson, former director of the Lindsborg Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, was researching these holidays three years ago and decided it was one to try.
“Part of how we keep our heritage alive is to celebrate Swedish holidays along with American holidays,” she said. “It builds our history and keeps it going.”
For the last two years, residents have celebrated in several ways, which includes waffle-themed foods all day and, of course, the waffle costumes. Those wearing them have been known to stop cars on the road and declare, “You've been waffled, happy Våffeldagen.”
“And they were looking at us like, “What are you doing? You’re crazy!” Wilson said, adding they wouldn’t make eye contact or roll their window down. “They weren’t sure what we were. The waffle people create a lot of curiosity and speculation.”
Wearing the costumes are barbers, city clerks, grocery store workers and downtown merchants.
“I think it was really surprising how much fun people had with it that first year,” Richardson said. “It’s just kind of the public good humor.”
This year, visitors and residents will have several options for the day.
Page 2 of 2 - The Courtyard Kafe will have fresh buttermilk waffles from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., including fruit topping, whipped cream or syrup and butter. The Swedish Country Inn also will serve hot waffle from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. as part of its normal Scandinavian breakfast.
The Old Grind, will be serving waffle trifles from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The White Peacock will offer a special maple latte from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Brick House Grill will offer a special on its waffle ice cream cones.
The waffle people will roam Lindsborg from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., including along downtown streets, in businesses, at Bethany College campus, at Bethany Home and elsewhere.
With all these options, it may be hard for visitors to choose. However, Richardson said this is part of the point.
“It’s a day to be indecisive,” she said. “You can waffle.”
Although this tradition is not as deeply rooted as others in the town, she thinks it has potential.
“I suppose as long as people want to have a little goofy, fun people will keep doing this,” Richardson said. “You never know when the next tradition is just around the corner.”
Contact Jenae Pauls at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel