Posted by Karin Soster on Dec 13, 2023
Today’s meeting at Cilantro was our last for 2023 and what a fun meeting it was and enjoyed by all who attended.  Alan chaired the meeting, and Glenda, Faye and Roy were apologies.  Grant performed his International Club toast which, very fittingly, was toasted to President Svein Magne Sirnes of the Rotary Club of Drobak in Norway – Drobak officially being recognised worldwide as the ‘home of Santa Claus’. 
Norway has had an interesting history – with nomadic humans arriving in 10,000 BC after the end of the Ice Age. Nomadic groups settled along the coast and commenced farming the land in 4,000 BC.  The Viking Age began in 793AD and lasted until 1066.  Nearly two thirds of the population perished with the Black Death in 1349, which resulted in changed farming practices. More recent history shows Norway was part of the Kalmar Union that formed in 1397 and included Denmark, Sweden and much of modern Finland – and controlled under one crown in Copenhagen.  Sweden left the union in 1524 leaving Norway and Denmark remaining, but Sweden returned in 1807.  Norway was ceded to Sweden in 1814 with a common monarch and foreign policy, however following negotiations between the two governments, Sweden eventually granted Norway with independence in 1905.  Norway has had a constitutional monarchy ever since.  Norway has its own version of Santa Claus called Julenisse – a short creature with a long white beard and red hat who, folklore has it, was born under a rock just north of Drobak several hundred years ago and purportedly protects homes and farms.  At Christmas time, Julenisse brings gifts to people’s homes.  Drobak is the only all year Christmas town in Norway with the Julehus (Santa Claus) shop open all year.  The shop includes a post office and receives all the letters posted to Santa from around the world.   Norway delivers a spruce tree to London each Christmas where it is erected in Trafalgar Square and highly decorated with Christmas decorations – it is known as the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree.  The first tree was gifted in 1947, in recognition of Britain’s support and sanctuary provided to the King of Norway during World War 2.  A tree has been gifted each year since, however, as the trees selected are typically 50 – 60 years old and over 20 metres tall, due to environmental concerns this year’s tree may be the last.  Drobak is in the South East of Norway, 30km south of Oslo – with tourism now a main industry.  The Rotary Club of Drobak was chartered in 1969, has 26 members, and projects include an initiative award to recognise a person or group who have done something for others, or created something positive over time.    Thank you Grant for a very entertaining presentation.    
    The following birthdays were recognised – Sue L on 2/12, Grant 11/12, Sheryl (Neville’s partner) 4/12, Stuart (Julie’s partner) 19/12, and a special birthday recognition for Charles Rener who turns 90 on 28/12.   Best birthday wishes to all.
    Paul F has a Rotary anniversary this month – 9 years.   How the time has flown.
    Ron thanked everyone for their support during the past year.
    Ron also thanked the team at Holmesglen for their services during the year  and a special thank you to Tony and Maria at front (and back) of house, and Pierre and Wolfgang who work so diligently in the background to provide us with wonderful breakfasts and dinners.
    Our next club morning meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 17 January at the Deck  in Bay Street, Brighton – though Ron will confirm with an email when he checks for attendance numbers.
    The meeting on 17/1 will include club member votes to pass the following club donations - $10,000 to Rotary Foundation, $5,000 to ARH Indigenous Scholarship, and $5,000 for Polio Plus.   
What would our last year’s club meeting be without a visit from Santa - performed superbly once again by our own Tim Lynch, who showered us with little gifts to take home, and entertained us with Santa’s ‘ho ho hoing’, Santa jokes and general good humour bestowed on everyone.   It was fun for everyone -  thank you Tim for these lovely lasting memories.