April 2023: Nordic Events

Happy Spring! And welcome to the latest listing of monthly Nordic events. This month’s post also includes a peak at some of what’s happening in May, an important month for Norwegians with our national day on May 17.

Details on 17th of May celebrations will come soon. In the meantime, readers in the Southern California area can mark their calendars with the Scandinavian Heritage Fair in Mission Viejo hosted by the Daughters of Norway, Turid Jespersen Lodge #44, on Saturday, May 27. There will be demonstrations of spinners, weavers, rosemaling, wood burners, and wood carvers along with displays of bunads and knitted sweaters. Watch the making of aebleskiver, krumkake, lefse, and waffles and enjoy open face sandwiches, soups, kransekake, and other Scandinavian desserts. Admission is free.

Are you a reader? Expand your Nordic reading repertoire by joining my 2023 Nordic Literature Reading Challenge. Or join an online Nordic book club. Visit Online Nordic Book Club Meetings for details on reading selections and meeting dates for April and upcoming months.

What’s on your calendar for April?

Virtual Events in April

The Mystery of the Missing Swans and Maidens: A Frida Hansen Tapestry Tale (Sunday, Apr. 2, 4:00 p.m. CT, Free)

Southward, a tapestry of swans and maidens with shimmering threads from the famous Art Nouveau artist Frida Hansen, was an important, often-displayed monumental tapestry, so when the curators for the blockbuster show, Scandinavian Design in the United States, 1890-1980, sought key textiles, Frida Hansen’s tapestry was top of mind. But where was this 11’ x 10’ weaving now? Only a few grainy black-and-white photos and many glowing descriptions remained. In January, 2021, nearly ninety years after Southward was last displayed publicly, noted rug dealer Peter Pap opened a Tupperware container in a storage building in Maine. He unfolded a woven treasure in dusty, but pristine condition, and with a quick google search, he learned it was a long-lost Frida Hansen tapestry. Join Robbie LaFleur for this timely webinar to celebrate the life and work of Frida Hansen, and especially to hear about the Southward tapestry mystery as it unfolded.

Nordic Language Café (Sunday, April 2, 5:00-7:00 p.m. PT)

Join The Scandinavian School & Cultural Center for their virtual Language Café meet-up to practice your Danish, Finnish, Norwegian or Swedish. This is a perfect opportunity for you to practice your speaking and listening skills and meet other people who share your passion for all things Nordic. All levels are welcome. The Cafés are very relaxed and friendly, and if you feel more comfortable listening rather than speaking we have a spot for you in our Café too. Participants will be divided up into different breakout rooms in their chosen Nordic language. You don’t have to be a student at the SSCC to join. And are you a native speaker up for a chat? They would love for you to join us as well!

Virtual Book Talk with Erika Fatland on High: A Journey Across the Himalaya, Through Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Nepal, and China (Tuesday, Apr. 4, 12:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Join Scandinavia House for a virtual discussion with bestselling Norwegian author Erika Fatland (The Border and Sovietistan) on her epic new book High: A Journey Across the Himalaya, Through Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Nepal, and China, out now from Pegasus Books. The Himalaya weaves through five very different countries, where the world religions of Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism are mixed with ancient shamanic religions. Countless languages and vastly different cultures live in the secluded mountain valleys; modernity and tradition collide, and great powers fight for influence. In today’s program, Fatland will discuss this captivating new travelogue, which invites us into her close encounters with the many peoples of the region while also taking us on a dizzying, high-altitude trip through incredible landscapes and their dramatic, unknown histories.

Nordic Spirit Classics’ Second Friday Series: The Ships That Built the West (Friday, Apr. 14, 7:30 p.m. PT)

Join the Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation in Thousand Oaks, California, for a virtual presentation on how the “Scandinavian Navy” built the West. The program will feature West Coast history and Scandinavian immigrant history that was essential for building the West. Nineteenth century Scandinavian immigrants settling the Midwestern prairies are well-known. Not so well known but extremely important are the Scandinavians who captained and crewed the lumber schooners that helped build the West — that brought lumber from the forests of the Pacific Northwest to build the cities of the Southwestern United States and more. So many of these lumber schooners that plied the West Coastal waters were captained and crewed by Scandinavians that they were nicknamed “The Scandinavian Navy.” Olaf T. Engvig, maritime historian and restorer of historic Norwegian ships, will tell about these lumber schooners, their crews, and their important contribution to the development of the West Coast. This presentation was originally given at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. Participation is free; registration is required.

Lecture: Sámi Silver Traditions of Northern Norway (Sunday, Apr. 16, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Join American Swedish Institute and Liz Bucheit, a Minnesota silversmith and recent recipient of an American Scandinavian Foundation fellowship to study Sámi silverwork in Norway, to hear more about her spring 2022 trip. As one of the pre-eminent American silversmiths working in the Norwegian bunad tradition, Liz has also held a long and deep interest in Sámi silverwork. She has studied both forms along traditional jewelers in Norway and maintains close ties with Norwegian and Sámi colleagues. Her 2022 trip allowed her to broaden her knowledge of historic and contemporary Sámi silverwork design, tools, and techniques in the context of her studies of Scandinavian ornament traditions. In this hour lecture, Liz will share stories and lessons from her journey through northern Norway that enrich our understanding of Sámi silverwork and its place in historic Scandinavian folk culture as well as its vibrant present.

Virtual Book Talk with Barbara Sjoholm on From Lapland to Sápmi (Tuesday, Apr. 18, 7:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Join Scandinavia House for a virtual talk with Barbara Sjoholm on From Lapland to Sápmi, out in March 2023 from University of Minnesota Press. She’ll discuss the book’s exploration of the cultural history of Sápmi and the Nordic countries as told through objects and artifacts. Material objects—things made, used, and treasured—tell the story of a people and place. So it is for the Indigenous Sámi living in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, whose story unfolds across borders and centuries, in museums and private collections. The objects created by the Sámi for daily and ceremonial use were purchased and taken by Scandinavians and foreign travelers in Lapland from the 17th century to the present, and the collections described in From Lapland to Sápmi map a complex history that is gradually shifting to a renaissance of Sámi culture and craft, along with the return of many historical objects to Sápmi, the Sámi homeland.

Introduction to Kolrosing (Saturdays, April 22 and May 6, 10:00 a.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim for an introduction to kolrosing. Kolrosing is an art form practiced by the peoples of Scandinavia. It was used to add embellishments to handcrafted wares. Traditionally, a pattern was incised into wood, antler, or bone, and then a darkening agent like ash or bark was used to highlight the design. In this two-part class, you will learn the history of kolrosing and try your hand at the very techniques used more than 1,000 years ago. Instructor Chelsea Bowen will guide you through traditional geometric patterns, and you will create your own freehand designs as well. Included in the cost of the class is a full kit of materials (a $50 value) with kolrosing tools, practice wood, and two final projects. Enrollment Deadline: April 7

New Nordic Spring Meal with Kristi Bissell (Saturday, April 22, 4:00 p.m. CT)

Gather some friends and family and get ready to prepare a delicious spring soup and sandwich supper! Kristi Bissell, the founder of True North Kitchen, will walk you through the process of making a creamy asparagus soup and a tasty grilled goat cheese sandwich to serve alongside. We will finish with a simple berry dessert to celebrate the season! This Vesterheim cooking class is designed as a small-group cook-along. Enrollment Deadline:  April 7

Bowl Turning: Nordfjord Style Ale Bowls (Wednesday, April 26, 7:00 p.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim Gold Medalist Patti Goke and master woodworker Roger Abrahamson in this webinar as they discuss historic bowl turning and Nordfjord-style ale bowls. Traditionally, decorated bowls were used to serve ale ceremonially for special events, such as weddings, Christmas, christenings, and others. Pieces from Vesterheim’s collection will be discussed, as well as historic examples in Norway and contemporary work made in the historic tradition. This event will fascinate woodworkers, rosemalers, and folk art enthusiasts alike!

Looking Ahead and Planning for May

Scandinavian Loom Beading: Blue Bookmark (Mondays, May 1-22, 5:30 p.m. CT)

Explore the beauty and fun of beading on a loom in the Scandinavian tradition! Inspired by designs from Nordic bandweaving, this class will take you from start to finish for making your own sparkly beaded bookmark. Learn about the historic use of loom beading and how a remarkably simple process can transform seed beads into delightful designs. The class kit includes a handmade loom designed by the instructor and enough beads, silk thread, needles, and patterns to make two projects, if you wish. Enrollment Deadline:  April 18

Vesterheim FamilieTid: The History of Trolls (Saturday, May 6, 11:00 a.m. CT)

Once upon a time, strange and dangerous creatures known as trolls roamed freely in the mysterious Norwegian mountains and forests. But the trolls only went out at night, in the dark, because there was only one thing that could scare a real troll – sunlight. Gather the family together and join celebrated storyteller Lise Lunge-Larsen as she shares stories and the history of trolls in Norwegian folklore. This is certain to delight both the young and the young at heart!

Nordic Yellow Pea Soup with Patrice Johnson (Saturday, May 6, 4:00 p.m. CT)

Across Scandinavia yellow pea soup is a Thursday night standard. How did this centuries old tradition begin? In this class, Patrice will discuss yellow pea soup origins, its accompaniments, and how each country has its own variation. Menu includes yellow pea soup with ham and homemade mustard, Norwegian crepes with jam and cream, and a signature cocktail and non-alcoholic beverage. This Vesterheim cooking class is designed as a small-group cook-along. Enrollment Deadline:  April 21

Aquavit Cocktails for Syttende Mai with Emily Vikre (Friday, May 12, 7:00 p.m. CT)

Skål! Back by popular demand, join Vesterheim for this cocktail class featuring aquavit, the traditional Scandinavian spirit with centuries of tradition and celebration. (This class is a repeat offering of the class taught in May 2022.) Emily Vikre of Vikre Distillery will inspire you with her creative cocktail tips and her storytelling about the history of aquavit, as well as her memories of celebrating Syttende Mai as a Norwegian-American dual citizen. Be prepared to concoct delicious aquavit drinks while engaging with Emily and other cocktail enthusiasts during this fun evening class. Enrollment Deadline:  May 5

Celebrate Syttende Mai with the World’s Best Cake: Kvæfjordkake! with Nevada Berg (Saturday, May 13, 10:00 a.m. CT)

Join celebrated cook and author Nevada Berg of North Wild Kitchen in making one of Norway’s most beloved cakes from her new cookbook, Norwegian Baking through the Seasons. Vanilla sponge baked with meringue becomes the centerpiece of this dreamy layer cake filled with custard and whipped cream. Come ready to learn, eat, and have fun! This Vesterheim cooking class is designed as a small-group cook-along. Enrollment Deadline:  May 5

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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