This month I’m happy to share two very special Scandinavian events happening in the Southern California area plus an assortment of virtual Nordic events as well.
First, thank you to Karen at Copenhagen Pastry in Culver City for putting this experience on my radar: the outdoor exhibit Thomas Dambo TROLLS: Save the Humans at South Coast Botanic Garden in Palos Verdes Peninsula. I’ve been fascinated by Dambo’s work elsewhere and am thrilled to be able to see it for myself now here in Southern California.
Danish artist Thomas Dambo is considered the world’s leading recycle artist and is known internationally for his larger-than-life Troll sculptures made from recycled wood. His sculptures can be found all over the world (visit www.trollmap.com) and now you can see six of them here in Southern California through January 14, 2024. “Thomas’ vision is to create art that inspires people to go explore, have adventures in nature, and demonstrates that trash can be turned into something beautiful.” Read more about the artist here.
Don’t forget, the Norwegian Church’s annual Christmas Fair takes place Friday, November 10, through Sunday, November 19, in San Pedro. Experience a Christmas atmosphere like no other with gifts for young and old, a bakery with Norwegian Christmas baked goods, a cafe with delicious food, and in addition, there will be raffles with great prizes.
And finally, a heads-up to readers interested in Vesterheim Folk Art School online classes in rosemaling and painting, Nordic cooking, weaving, jewelry, heritage and language, fiber arts, youth and family, and woodworking that registration will open November 10 for classes offered January through March. Classes are popular and spaces go fast, so don’t delay signing up if something interests you. View a PDF of the class list and get ready to register.
Online book clubs continue to meet. Visit Nordic Book Club Meetings: November 2023 to see details about book selections and meeting dates.
What’s on your calendar for November?
Are you curious about the Finnish language, but not ready yet to commit to a multi-date class? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited and prepare for an upcoming visit to Finland? This two-hour introductory workshop taught by Joona Sundström is the perfect way to get a feel for Finnish, pick up a bit of grammar, and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic conversation.
Join the Scandinavian School in San Francisco to learn tools for encouraging and strengthening the language at home. Focus will be on language learning of children and teens, but much of the information will be useful for adult learners as well. This seminar is built to serve also those who do not share the language their children are speaking – finding ways to support their child’s learning. After sharing some information, discussions will continue in smaller facilitated groups – sharing tips, exploring language learning methods and finding ways to test our just gained knowledge of multilingualism in our day-to-day lives.
Bake along with Kristi as she makes Nordic Lemon Wafers and Scandinavian Almond Tarts (Sandbakkels). Kristi will also have some fun filling ideas for your almond tarts. This class is just what you need to kick off the holiday baking season! This Vesterheim cooking class is designed as a small-group cook-along. The class is currently sold out but you can join the waitlist.
Beat the holiday rush and take some of the stress out of the Christmas season by shopping online with The Norwegian American at their Gift Guide Auction. Working with select vendors, they have tried to find something for everyone on your list: decorations, jewelry, books, clothing, treats, and more! Bidding will start on November 10 and end of November 20. All proceeds go to The Norwegian American. Are you a reader of The Norwegian American? If not, consider subscribing now.
Registration for Vesterheim online classes in rosemaling and painting, Nordic cooking, weaving, jewelry, heritage and language, fiber arts, youth and family, and woodworking offered January through March will open November 10. Classes are popular and spaces go fast, so don’t delay signing up if something interests you. View a PDF of the class list and get ready to register.
The Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation‘s Nordic Spirit Classics series continues with an online selection from the 2022 Nordic Spirit Symposium. For centuries, trade and traffic that passed through a narrow strait along the southwestern Norway coast, the “North Way,” was controlled by powerful princes and kings. The two speakers from western Norway will discuss the pre-Viking and Viking era of Avaldsnes and Haraldseid in western Norway, and one particularly powerful king, King Harald Fairhair. Contact email@example.com to receive the Zoom link.
In a twist on Vesterheim’s bokprat discussions, join in November for a screening and discussion of the film John, the Last Cowboy. The documentary is centered on 92-year-old John Hoiland as he manages his large ranch in Montana all by himself. Although wealthy people are lining up to buy his property, John’s wealth is not in the value of the ranch but rather in the freedom to work his own land. View the film via livestream on Friday night and then join the discussion on Saturday afternoon. If you can’t join online for the Friday night screening, you can pay a small fee to view the film on your own schedule on Vimeo.
Viksdalmaling is not fanciful with Telemark scrolls and imaginative flowers but instead with twisted tongues, elongated teardrops, moons and circles, and plenty of crosses. Viksdalmaling is rich in symbolism and history, yet perhaps on the verge of extinction again. This presentation is about history, trade, design, color, and symbolism in Viksdal rosemaling. Viksdal design is about the clash between Viking ideology and Christianity. Come watch and learn about this little-known fascinating style of rosemaling.
Are you curious about the Swedish language, but not ready yet to commit to a multi-date class? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited and prepare for an upcoming visit to Sweden? This two-hour introductory workshop taught by Jean Hanslin is the perfect way to get a feel for Swedish, pick up a bit of grammar, and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic conversation.
Join the Swedish American Museum for a cooking class to learn how to make fish dishes and rulltårta (Swiss roll). You will receive the recipe in advance. You can then either cook alongside or watch and try later. It is an interactive Zoom so you will be able to ask questions.
Delve further into the life and accomplishments of Nobel prize winner Selma Lagerlöf with instructor Ingela Haaland. Learn how folk traditions helped form her writing style, discover her role in film production, and see how she received inspiration from travels far and wide in the world. Learn what lasting contributions Lagerlöf’s writing have made upon literature to this day.
Join celebrated cook and author Nevada Berg in making some of Norway’s most beloved holiday treats – sour cream wafers and brown syrup cookies! Rømmebrød are thin and crisp sweet breads doused with sugar and cooked over a hot griddle, while brune pinner have a strong hint of syrup and cinnamon and a topping of sugar and almonds to accentuate every bite. Both of these last a good couple of weeks in a cookie tin – unless they’re eaten up beforehand! Come ready to learn, eat, and have fun! The class is currently sold out but you can join the waitlist.
Join Barbro Tronhuus Storlien for a lecture on Norwegian folk costumes. Norway has a variety of more than 450 different folk costumes, and many of these have intricate embroideries. Many of the folk costumes are easily recognizable while others are more unknown. In this lecture, Storlien will talk about the differences and similarities between the Norwegian areas, show some of the techniques and raise the important question – how do we keep this knowledge alive for future generations?
Are you curious about the Sámi language and culture? Are you looking for a quick and low-pressure way to get excited and prepare for an upcoming visit to the north of Finland, Sweden, or Norway? This two-hour introductory workshop taught by Áila O’Loughlin is the perfect way to learn some history of the nine living dialects of Sápmi, get a feel for North Sámi, pick up a bit of grammar and learn how to pronounce some words as part of basic greetings. Families welcome!
How does immigration influence the pizzas served in Norway and Sweden? Join us for an evening of surprising tastes and fun twists on Nordic pizza. We’ll make our own dough, and then top it with the modern flavors of Scandinavia: kebab, banana curry, and filet-hollandaise. We’ll also toss a traditional pizza salad and shake up a couple of New Nordic-inspired beverages. This Vesterheim cooking class is designed as a small-group cook-along. Enrollment Deadline: November 5
Scandinavia House invites you to a virtual studio visit with Norwegian artist Ole Brodersen. Brodersen’s photographic practice focuses on landscapes and how they are affected by the forces of nature. A 12th-generation native of Lyngør — a car-free island off the coast of southeastern Norway — Ole’s heritage and experiences are deeply entangled with the sea. His father was a sailmaker; his grandfather was a sailor; as a child, Ole rowed to school, and as an adult, he circumnavigated the Atlantic in a pilot cutter built in 1894. This heritage influences and forms the basis for Ole’s pictorial experiments.
This presentation by Robert Johnson begins with an overview of Forest Finns in Sweden and Norway, describing their migration, life, and acculturation into Swedish society. He will discuss ways to identify Forest Finn ancestry, including locational, documentary, and DNA. And finally, you will look at records specific to Forest Finn research.
Gunn Edberg-Caldwell leads this fun, open discussion about the similarities and differences between Sweden and the United States. What do people generalize or assume about each country or culture? What can one learn from the other? Participants will compare and discover how different yet alike these two countries really are.
Explore a new “twist” on a traditional craft! Using pewter wire thread and a macramé style weave, students will create a pair of hoop earrings with a silver drop and sterling silver French hook ear wires. Finished hoops are approximately 1 inch in diameter and display a soft shimmery sparkle in sunlight and candle light. No previous experience is necessary, but a willingness to use hand tools is required. Enrollment Deadline: November 15
Looking Ahead to December
(Enrollment deadlines are in November; spots are still available as of publication date.)
Scandinavian Fest: Virtual Holiday Market returns Friday, December 1, and Saturday, December 2, on Facebook. Scandinavian Fest brings Nordic shops and businesses from around the globe together in one online location. Join the Virtual Holiday Market to discover unique Nordic products, take advantage of discounts, and win giveaways. To participate, mark that you are “Going” or “Interested” in the event and then follow the Discussion tab on the event page for products, discounts and giveaways and shop Nordic by visiting or contacting the businesses. For more information, visit their website.
Needle felting is fun! Learn to transform hand-dyed wool from the instructor’s flock of sheep into your very own adorable family of nisse. Laura will take you step-by-step through the process via Zoom. No previous experience is necessary. Experience the magic of needle felting or learn some new tips to add to your growing skillset. Enrollment Deadline: November 17
A Swedish meatball dinner ticks every box for a winter meal: cozy and comforting, balanced and delicious! Join Kristi Bissell of the True North Kitchen blog for an afternoon demonstration of her dream meatball dinner menu – Swedish meatballs with a creamy gravy and lingonberries, an elegant celery root puree, and essential pickled cucumbers. Plus, learn the secrets of Kristi’s truly satisfying vegetarian meatball recipe, too! Whether you tackle the whole menu at once, or pull just a few of the recipes straight to your Christmas smörgåsbord, these are classic, fail safe recipes that will impress your loved ones this holiday season.
From your own kitchen, tackle a simple wet felting project by covering a bar of soap with a colorful layer of felt. These “felted” soaps are perfect for traveling or keeping next to the tub, as they work as a washcloth and soap all in one. Plus, they’re a great starter project for learning the basics of wet felting! And (hint, hint) these are the perfect easy stocking stuffer! Suitable for ages 16+.
Create a festive, quick decoration with needle felting this season! This fun project makes use of cookie cutters you may already have at home, or walks you through using cardstock to create a needle felting form to work in, to make a felted ornament with clean lines, even shape, and adorable details. Students will receive a kit with materials to make two average cookie cutter sized ornaments. These are the perfect last minute gift to decorate a present or tree!
Create a jolly felted gnome ready to bring home some holiday joy in this afternoon-long class. Students will follow step-by-step instructions to transform hand dyed wool from instructor Laura Berlage’s own sheep into a felted festive gnome (known in Sweden as a tomte, or in Norway as a nisse) complete with long cap and beard! Students will get tips for shaping a cheerful face as well as hear stories from Laura’s farm and discuss gnomes in Scandinavian culture and beyond. Suitable for all skill levels, ages 14+.
Which events or experiences look interesting to you?