Virtual Nordic Events for January 2022: Scandinavian Film Festival LA #SFFLA & Nordic Spirit Symposium plus more!

Fireworks from midnight January 1, 2022, in Oslo. Photo credit to my mother.

Happy New Year! 

I was thinking that December 2021 might be my last Virtual Nordic Events post, but with a virtual Scandinavian Film Festival LA around the corner followed by a virtual Nordic Spirit Symposium at the end of the month, I saw the need for at least one more such post.

Mark your calendars for the next three weekends of January to catch “top films from the top of Europe” in the comfort of your own home at the 23rd Scandinavian Film Festival LA with BalticFilmExpo@SFFLA in cooperation with Scandinavia House in New York, NY. All the information is available on the SFFLA website. You can purchase a festival pass (select “2022 Nordic and Baltic Oscar Contenders” for $65) to catch all the screenings or buy individual tickets. Be aware that for some films, the screening options are limited due to restrictions.

Happening at the end of the month, the Nordic Spirit Symposium will offer presentations on a variety of topics including the history of trolls; stories of Finnish immigrant women; the Poetic Edda, stories of Norse gods and heroes; King Harald Fairhair and the control of Norway’s maritime traffic during and before the Viking Age; and animal allies and enemies of Sámi. Participation is free, but registration is required.

Which events look intriguing to you?

Friluftsliv or Lost in the Mountains: Nature Literature from Norway with Torbjørn Ekelund and Are Kalvø (Streaming Now)

Norway is known for its dramatic and beautiful nature, with fjords, mountains and endless hiking trails. Norwegians love to spend time outside, so called friluftsliv. In this event from December 2021, get to know two fantastic authors with different approaches to nature. The event begins with a literary talk with Torbjørn Ekelund, author of In Praise of Paths and A Year in the Woods, and is followed by a stand-up routine by Are Kalvø. Take refuge from the cold weather and curl up on the couch with this inspiring recorded event.

Scandinavian Film Festival LA: Weekend One (Thursday-Sunday, January 6-9)

In cooperation with Scandinavia House in New York, NY, the Scandinavian Film Festival LA will be virtual one more year. Watch individual screenings or purchase a festival pass to catch all the films (select “2022 Nordic and Baltic Oscar Contenders” for $65). The schedule for the first weekend includes Oscar submissions from Latvia (The Pit), Lithuania (Isaac), and Sweden (Tigers).

Vesterheim Bokprat: Lars Mytting’s The Bell in the Lake (Sunday, January 9, 1:00-2:15 p.m. CT)

In the first bokprat discussion of the new year, Dr. Maren Johnson, Luther College’s Associate Professor of Nordic Studies and Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies Director, will be joined by best-selling Norwegian author Lars Mytting for a discussion of The Bell in the Lake. With its broad-canvas narrative about the intersection of religion, superstition, and duty, this novel offers a unique perspective about Scandinavian life.

National Danish Book Club & Literary Event Series: We, the Drowned (Tuesdays, January 11, 10:00 a.m. PT & January 18, 5:00 p.m. PT, Free)

Explore a selection of Danish literature in English translation with a new nationwide book club. Each month a celebrated Danish author will be selected and discussed in two virtual settings: Book Club group discussions and accompanying Literary Events. This month’s selection is We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen. The Literary Event will take place Tuesday, January 11, 10:00 a.m. PT and the Book Club group discussion will take place Tuesday, January 18, 5:00 p.m. PT.

Virtual Book Talk – Present Tense Machine (Tuesday, January 11, 12:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Join Scandinavia House in New York, NY,  for a virtual book talk on Present Tense Machine with award-winning Norwegian author Gunnhild Øyehaug. “With author Jennifer Offill as moderator, Øyehaug will discuss the exquisite, wistful, and slyly profound new novel, out January 11 in translation by Karl Dickson from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.” This event will take place as a Zoom webinar.

Scandinavia House’s Online Nordic Book Club: Dog Park by Sofi Oksanen (Tuesday, January 11, 6:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Read and discuss Scandinavian literature in translation as part of Scandinavia House’s online Nordic Book Club. Each month they select a novel from some of the best Nordic literary voices. On January 11, they’ll be discussing Dog Park by acclaimed Finnish-Estonian author Sofi Oksanen, who recently joined Scandinavia House for a virtual panel now streaming here.

Scandinavian Film Festival LA: Weekend Two (Thursday-Sunday, January 13-16)

This is the second weekend of the film festival and screening options are a little different due to restrictions placed on some of the movies. The schedule includes Oscar submissions from Iceland (Lamb) and Estonia (On The Water), both of which are available all four days of the weekend by single admission ticket or Festival Pass. Denmark’s Flee and Norway’s The Worst Person in the World are only available to Festival Pass holders in NY, NJ, and CA beginning Saturday, January 15, and remain available to view for 24 hours after start of viewing.

ASI Workshop: Needle Felted Polar Bear (Friday, January 14, 1:00-4:00 p.m. CT)

Join American Swedish Institute and create a cute felted polar bear ready for winter fun in this virtual, afternoon class. Students will follow step-by-step instructions to transform hand dyed wool from the instructor’s own sheep into a felted polar bear that will fit in the palm of your hand. Needle felting is fun, easy and therapeutic, and as your wooly friend comes to life you’ll enjoy conversation with other students and learn more about wool and the sheep who produced your kit materials! Your kit even contains enough wool to make a second polar bear, perfect for continuing with this craft beyond class. Ages 13 and up are welcome to register alongside an adult.

Nordic Spirit Classics’ Second Friday Series — Trolls: A Retrospective Episode 1 (Friday, January 14, 7:30 p.m. PT, Free)

In anticipation of the 23rd annual Nordic Spirit Symposium happening later in the month, the first episode of a trolls retrospective will be given ahead of time. In this first episode, Troll Genesis: From the Hammer to the Cross, Britte Rasmussen Marsh, writer, researcher, and educator in Portland, Oregon, will take audience members back in time to the origin of the universe, human, and troll, according to Norse mythology. How did trolls come to populate the forests of Nordic lands? What were the first recorded interactions between trolls and humans? As medieval times graduated into renaissance, how were these encounters interpreted by the folks who lived them? Participation is free, but registration is required.

Innovators & Inventors Lecture Series: An Innovator Abroad with Rick Steves (Sunday, January 16, 7:00 p.m. CT, Free)

Vesterheim welcomes Rick Steves, a popular public television host and a best-selling guidebook author, to join them in conversation. He is the founder and owner of Rick Steves’ Europe, a travel business with a tour program that brings more than 30,000 people to Europe annually. Rick is also an outspoken activist who encourages Americans to broaden their perspectives through travel. He will talk about travel for the purpose of challenging cultural assumptions, travel to Norway, and his background as a Norwegian American. Register here for the free Zoom link.

The Scandinavian School and Cultural Center’s Language Café! (Sunday, January 16, 5:00-6:00 p.m. PT, Free)

This is a perfect opportunity for you to practice your speaking skills and meet other people who share your passion for all things Nordic. The topic, as well as the event, is free. All levels are welcome. Participants will be divided up into different breakout rooms in their chosen Nordic language according to their conversational skills, ranging from beginner to advanced. You don’t have to be a student at SSCC to join us, but we are of course hoping to see both current and former language adult learners on the screen. Are you a native speaker up for a chat? They would love for you to join.

Vesterheim Bokprat (Book Club): We, the Drowned (Rescheduled, Wednesday, January 19, 7:00-8:15 p.m. CT, Free)

Dr. Maren Johnson, Luther College’s Associate Professor of Nordic Studies and Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies Director, facilitates a monthly bokprat (book club) discussing Scandinavian authors and Scandinavian life. Seafaring has long been a part of Scandinavian culture and history. In We, the Drowned, Danish author Carsten Jensen crafts an enlightening tale of family and sailors. Examining the hardships and adventure that come with the work out on the sea, the town of Marstal, and its inhabitants – the waiting mothers and wives, the adventure-seeking young men, and the old who are bound to the sea but trapped on land. Enrollment deadline is January 12.

Scandinavian Film Festival LA: Weekend Three (Thursday-Sunday, January 20-23)

This is the final weekend of the film festival and screening options are a little varied due to restrictions placed on some of the movies. The schedule includes feature documentaries from Sweden (The Most Beautiful Boy in the World), Lithuania (The Jump), and Norway/Denmark (The President), all of which are available all four days of the weekend by single admission ticket or Festival Pass. Finland’s Oscar submission, Compartment No 6, is only available on Saturday and Sunday to Festival Pass holders (select “2022 Nordic and Baltic Oscar Contenders” for $65).

Virtual Book Talk: Meet the Author – The White Bathing Hut with Thorvald Steen (Saturday, January 22, 10:00-11:00 a.m. PT)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, on January 22 as moderator Dr. Elizabeth DeNoma  discusses The White Bathing Hut, a unique story of a family coming to grips with carrying a serious hereditary illness and a history of denial, concealment, and shame. Thorvald Steen’s literary career began in 1983, and he has since produced a diverse body of work spanning a variety of genres. Translated into 30 languages so far, Steen has received praise and prizes for the quality of his authorship.

The Familiar & The Absurd: Literature from Copenhagen (Saturday, January 22, 11:00 a.m. PT, Free)

Join Scandinavian House in New York, NY, for a virtual Danish literary panel with Copenhagen-based authors Ida Marie Hede, Ursula Scavenius, and Steven Zultanski moderated by editor and writer Tom Conaghan. The authors will discuss their newly translated books each exploring themes of the body and intimacy from unique sci-fi perspectives. This conversation will be recorded and available later to stream on their Virtual Programming page and on their YouTube channel.

Grassroots Resettlement: Refugee Support and Community Creation in Scandinavia (Tuesday, January 25, 10:00 a.m. PT, Free)

The American Scandinavian Foundation invites you to a discussion on refugee support and community creation in Scandinavia. In this panel highlighting the work of local people supporting incoming refugees in Norway and Sweden, you’ll hear from a Norwegian asylum center director, a Swedish community organizer, and two resettled refugees to Norway who have made it their life’s work to advocate for their communities and build bridges between refugees and native-born Scandinavians. This conversation will be recorded and available later to stream on their Virtual Programming page and on their YouTube channel.

Demo: Danish Rye with Erin Swenson-Klatt (Thursday, January  27, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Hearty, healthy Danish rye bread is a Scandinavian standard, and a must-have for open-faced sandwiches. Erin will introduce an easy take on rugbrød, no sourdough starter required. She’ll cover the basics of baking with rye as she works through the steps to create a sweet, whole grain-based rye loaf, and also discuss the possibilities for tackling a sourdough starter-based loaf. Even if you might think you’re not the biggest fan of rye bread, you have to give this recipe a spin! This class is designed as a demonstration, so students can watch the entire process and ask questions before tackling the dishes at home at a later date.

Nordiska Book Club: An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed (Thursday, January 27, 6:00 p.m. PT, Free)

Nordiska in Poulsbo, WA, has launched its own book club for fellow Nordic reading enthusiasts to connect and be in community with one another virtually. For their January book club, they will be reading and discussing An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten, translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy. Visit Nordiska’s event page for more information and to register.

From Northern Lights and Winter Nights: A Symposium of Nordic Stories and Culture (Friday, January 28 & Saturday, January 29)

Scandinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation’s 23rd annual Nordic Spirit Symposium will be a virtual program of live presentations from Scandinavia and the United States on diverse topics including the history of trolls; stories of Finnish immigrant women; the Poetic Edda, stories of Norse gods and heroes; King Harald Fairhair and the control of Norway’s maritime traffic during and before the Viking Age; and animal allies and enemies of Sámi. The program starts Friday evening and continues on Saturday with two sessions. Participation is free, but registration is required.

FamilieTid: Cook-Along with Patrice Johnson (Saturday, January 29, 11:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m. CT, Free)

Vesterheim’s online FamilieTid this month is a cook-along inspired by the classic heroine Pippi Longstocking! Grab your copy of the book (or click here to order one from Vesterheim’s Museum Store) and then join for a fun afternoon cooking adventure with Nordic Cuisine heroine Patrice Johnson. Patrice is excited to lead this fun intergenerational cooking adventure where you will recall special moments in the book that inspire your cooking of pancakes and meatballs.


ASI Workshop: Sámi-Inspired Bracelets with Liz Bucheit (Saturday, February 5, 1:00-4:00 p.m. CT)

The indigenous Sámi people of Scandinavia incorporate elements of their northern landscape such as reindeer leather, braided pewter wire, and sculpted antler to embellish their clothing and handmade items. In this virtual, afternoon class, students will use these materials to make a soft bracelet inspired by the tenntråd (pewter thread) embroidery techniques often found on Sámi handcraft. Students will learn to triple braid coiled pewter wire, then sew the finished braid to a softened reindeer leather strip and finish the bracelet with an antler button. Discover this unique tradition with veteran instructor Liz Bucheit and create a beautiful bracelet in just one day. Open to ages 16 and up. Registration for this kit-based class closes on January 23.

Knife Skills in the Nordic Kitchen with Kristi Bissell (Saturday, February 19, 1:00-3:00 p.m. and 5:00-6:00 p.m. CT)

In this online class hosted by Vesterheim, instructor Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen will share tips and tricks for slicing, dicing, chopping, and mincing quickly and safely and discuss how to care for your knives. Best of all, at the end of the class, you’ll have a delicious Nordic soup and salad prepped and ready for dinner! Enrollment deadline is February 11.

Sámi-Inspired Bracelets with Norma Refsal (Saturday, February 26, and Sunday, February 27)

In this online class of three sessions over two days offered by Vesterheim, you will learn to make a Sámi-inspired, iconic, three-strand braided bracelet using traditional materials of reindeer leather, pewter thread, and a reindeer antler button. The pewter is nickel-free and contains 4% silver. Each session will be accompanied by a short video that will help you see the hand-work techniques up close. In between each session, you will have time to complete the steps that instructor Norma Refsal has discussed and demonstrated before moving on to the next part of the bracelet construction. The three class sessions are Saturday, February 26 (12:30-2:30 p.m. and 6:00-7:30 p.m. CT) and Sunday, February 27 (1:00-2:30 p.m. CT). Enrollment deadline is February 11.

ASI Workshop: Swedish Meatballs with Patrice Johnson (Friday, February 18, 5:00-7:00 p.m. CT)

Cook up a Friday dinner at home with this fun virtual class! Grab some family members or friends to prep and cook a menu of Swedish meatballs, plus potatoes, lingonberries, quick pickles and a super simple dessert in two hours. Patrice will offer both a meat based and vegetarian version of the main course, and she’ll talk about the differences between Sweden’s preferred meatballs and those from other Scandinavian countries – you may be inspired to seek out even more versions after class! This class is designed as a cook-along experience, perfect for cooks who want a few extra tips and tricks while tackling a classic Swedish meal.

ASI Workshop: Bake Your Own Semlor with Erin Swenson-Klatt (Friday, February 25, 10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. CT)

This class meets online from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 1:00-2:30 p.m. CT. Once the provenance of a single holy day, Fat Tuesday, Swedes now enjoy semlor from Christmas until Easter. These sweet, yeasted buns are perfumed with cardamom, stuffed with marzipan, filled with whipped cream, and dusted with powdered sugar, a real treat. Join Erin for a baking day from your own kitchen. Start by mixing and kneading the dough, then step away from your devices while the yeast does its work. After lunch, return to shape, bake, fill, and decorate semlor. Finish with a fika in true Swedish style.

Koselig Nordic Dinner with Patrice Johnson (Sunday, February 27, 4:00 p.m. CT)

The acclaimed Nordic cooking instructor and self-proclaimed “Nordic Food Geek” Patrice Johnson has prepared an inspiring winter Nordic-style meal that will have your family and friends salivating as you reveal this creative menu! Join this intimate cooking class to prepare an appetizer of brandade (Nordic style), a seasonal soup (apple, pumpkin, squash, or gjetost with cider), plus rye crisps, a special surprise dessert, and a cocktail/mocktail to pair with the delicious food! As you are cooking, Patrice always shares her extensive knowledge of Nordic cuisine, revealing both the history of these dishes and her own personal family traditions along the way. The cooking class is sold out. Register by February 18 to join the waiting list.

Which events or experiences look interesting to you?

Be sure to visit previous months’ listings of virtual Nordic events. Many of the events are now available to view as saved recordings.

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