Barneblad: Et eple til læreren — An apple for the teacher

Brought to you by Lori Ann Reinhall

«Et eple om dagen er bra for magen»

«An apple a day keeps the doctor away»

Apples and teachers have long been associated with one another. In former times and even today, children often started the school year by bringing an apple to their teacher as a token of their appreciation. Here is North America, school often starts on Sept. 1, which also happens to be the peak of the apple harvest in many places.

But did you know that this tradition finds its origins in Scandinavia? The custom of giving an apple to a teacher started in the 1700s, before governments could pay teachers properly for their work. Poor families gave teachers baskets of apples and other food as payment for teaching their children. Apples were an abundant crop in many places, tasty and full of nutrition.

In many schools on the American frontier, the situation was much the same. Some communities were simply too poor to pay their teachers, so families brought them produce from their farms. Apples were often part of the bushels that students would haul to the schools.

In ancient mythology, the apple tree symbolized good health and future happiness. The apple tree has been known as the “tree of love” and is associated with the Norse goddess Idun. She was the goddess of spring or rejuvenation. Idun was the keeper of the magic golden apples of everlasting life, which the gods had to eat to preserve their youth.
There is the old Norwegian saying, “Et eple om dagen er bra for magen,” literally, “An apple a day is good for the stomach.” In English, we say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

It is true that apples are very healthy, low in calories but rich in fiber and nutrients. Some even call apples a “healthy secret weapon.” Apples are known to fuel the body with energy, and apples are even known as a powerful “brain food,” the perfect thing to include in your school lunch or to have as an after-school snack.


Photo: Colourbox

So, the next time you eat an apple (and we hope you will), think about the “food for thought” in this month’s Barneblad.
And for fun, here are a few apple activities:
1. Count the number of times the words “apple” or “apples” appear in the text above
2. Count the number of apples in the photo above
3. Write down five words that you now associate with the word “apple”
4. Name five people that you would like to give an apple to show your appreciation and love for them and write down a sentence to go with each apple
5. Keep a count of the number of apples you eat in one month

This article originally appeared in the September 2, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.