May 2024: In-Person & Virtual Nordic Events

It’s a big month for Scandinavian enthusiasts in Southern California and Norwegians worldwide.

Norway’s national day, known as 17. mai or Syttende mai, is Friday, May 17. Norwegians celebrate the 1814 signing of their constitution with flags, children’s parades, traditional costumes, ice cream, and more. Read more here about the history of Norway’s constitution and Norway’s unique traditions for the day. Once again, Norway’s national TV station NRK will broadcast live on the big day starting 7:50 a.m. Central European Time (Monday, May 16, 10:50 p.m. PT).


For SoCal Norwegians and their friends, the Norwegian Church in San Pedro will host its annual “17. mai-feiring på kirka” on Friday, May 17. All the usual food and festivities will be there — the national song, speeches, music, entertainment, and last but not least, a parade around the block with music and flags. Doors open at 4:00 p.m. for food sales and the program begins at 5:00 p.m.

This celebration is followed closely by the 50th anniversary of the Scandinavian Festival on Saturday, May 18, and Sunday, May 19, in Thousand Oaks. There will be musical and dance entertainment, children’s craft stations and entertainment, food and craft demonstrations, a Speaker’s Corner, and of course food sales and vendors. Have you purchased your tickets?

Consider volunteering at the festival! There are a variety of volunteer opportunities for adults, college students, and high school students. They need assistance with children’s crafts, family activities, ticket sales, and gate entrances. I have previously volunteered at gate entrances and the head wreath booth. This year you’ll find me at the Norway Craft Booth with a friend. Have questions? Reach out to


Online book clubs continue to meet. Visit Nordic Book Club Meetings: May 2024 to see details about book selections and meeting dates.

Vesterheim’s online folk art courses sell out quickly. To see what’s coming up in later months and sign up before it’s too late, visit Vesterheim: Online Folk Art Courses. August 20 is the upcoming opening date for registration of classes that will take place October 2024 through March 2025 (details).

The Norwegian American Spring Auction: 17 for 17 for 17 (May 1-17)

The Norwegian American announces its spring auction “17 for 17 for 17,” filled with exciting items to celebrate your Norwegian heritage. The auction will run for 17 days starting May 1 to raise $17,000 by Norwegian Constitution Day on May 17!

Films from the Faroe Islands (Virtual Screening Package) (Available until May 5)

Presented in Faroe Islands Culture Days, see virtual screenings of some of the best contemporary films from the Faroe Islands in “Fog-Swept Cinema”. From April 19 through May 5, a virtual screening package will be available with three feature films — the coming-of-age drama Dreams by the Sea, the surrealist feature 111 Good Days, and the documentary Skál — as well as four short films, showcasing today’s leading filmmakers from the North Atlantic archipelago. Virtual screening packages are available throughout the U.S.

Intro to Finnish (Sunday, May 5)

Curious about the Finnish language, but not ready yet to commit to a multi-date class? 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 instructor 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.

ASI Nordic Table Event: Swedish Cardamom Buns with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, May 9)

Turn out kardemummabullar (cardamom buns) worthy of a bakery display case with a little help from Kristi Bissell of the Scandinavian cooking blog True North Kitchen! Cardamom buns are a popular option in Swedish bakeries which go all in cardamom’s deep floral flavor by incorporating the spice into the dough, filling, and glittery sugar topping. Luckily these decadent buns can also be tackled at home with some basic baking techniques. In this hour-long demo, Kristi will demonstrate how to mix and knead the yeasted dough, prepare the filling, and bake a batch of buns at home. Students will leave with the recipe and lots of tips, inspired to bake their own batch of buns at home!

Vesterheim’s FamilieTid: Nordic Songs Through the Years (Saturday, May 11, Free)

Have the whole family come together and learn some Norwegian songs. Singer, Norwegian language instructor, and youth educator, Eddy Galstad will lead the family in learning songs from “way back when,” as well as share some songs that the kids might have heard already. This free event will be a learning and sharing opportunity for multiple generations of the family.

Introduction to the Basic Strokes of Rosemaling: Hallingdal Style (Saturday, May 11 & Sunday, May 12)

If you’ve ever thought about trying rosemaling, here’s a great opportunity to take the brush in hand! Rosemaling is the wonderful folk art of Norway that is based on the flowing scrolls and flowers that are made up of “C” and “S” strokes. This class introduces students to these basic strokes that are the foundation of rosemaling, as well as the detailed line work that completes a rosemaling project. The class will include demonstrations and plenty of hands-on practice. Students will practice strokes and complete a project on board. The class will be taught using acrylic paint. If you’ve painted with oil, this would be a good opportunity to explore acrylics. A complete kit of supplies (a $40 value) is included in the cost of enrollment.

Vesterheim Family Language Adventure: Life North of the Arctic Circle (Registration deadline: May 17)

In June, join Vesterheim for some family fun and learn some Norwegian language and culture along the way. The vocabulary and phrases will focus on life north of the Arctic Circle! Through hands-on activities, fun crafts, light-hearted games, and short videos, you and your family will learn and practice your new Norwegian skills. A kit will be delivered right to your home containing supplies for these language activities, a helpful reference sheet for all the new words and expressions you will be learning, a fun craft, and a yummy treat.

Design and Weave a Repp Band (Saturday, May 18 & Sunday, May 19)

Join Swedish textile artist and educator Kerstin Neumüller for two online sessions to design and start weaving a repp band on a small rigid heddle-style band weaving loom. This virtual class is an excellent option for students who need a refresher on band weaving, or for anyone who owns Kerstin’s book Simple Weave but wants to work alongside her live.

Intro to Swedish (Sunday, May 19)

Curious about the Swedish language, but not ready yet to commit to a multi-date class? 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 instructor 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.

Experimental Archaeology: Recreating Goods Found in Grave #619 in Birka, Sweden (Wednesday, May 22, Free)

In this webinar, Steph Anderson will talk through what went into the study and recreation of Birka grave Bj 619. The goal of this project was to look at the archaeological notes from 1877 when it was first discovered and textile analysis from 1974, and then to create an interpretation of the grave. This grave dates back to the late 700s to early 800s. Steph will walk through the process of research, talking to archaeologists and working with the Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, textile producers, blacksmiths, and others to get as historically accurate information as possible. Let her introduce you to the woman of Bj 619 and give you a brief glimpse into her life.

Genealogy Session with Swedish American Museum (Saturday, May 25)

Delve into ancestry and history with the Swedish American Museum at one of their educational Genealogy sessions. In May, Kathy Meade will be discussing ArkivDigital. What is new in ArkivDigital? ArkivDigital provides online access to newly photographed color images of Swedish historical records. We have added many searchable indexes, so you can now search by name for more church books, estate inventory, census, and military records. We have also added some more Swedish-American church books. You will learn how these updates make researching your Swedish heritage simpler and faster.


Crash Course in Nordic Myths (Wednesdays, 6/5-6/26)

The literature containing Norse mythology remains one of the most fascinating bodies of medieval storytelling anywhere. Norse myths include a great wealth of digressive anecdotes and an equally large cast of characters. This class will attempt to make sense of Norse myths by examining the structures of the tales and investigating the background in which they were written down in manuscripts. Come explore what is known (and unknown) about Norse mythology with Old Norse expert Dr. Paul Peterson. The course will be held virtually and take place over four weeks with one meeting per week.

Vesterheim Filmprat: Stolen (Wednesday, 6/12)

Register now to join Vesterheim’s Filmprat to discuss Stolen, the new Netflix original film based on Ann-Helén Læstadius’ novel of the same name which premiered April 12. This spellbinding Swedish story follows a young indigenous woman as she struggles to defend her family’s reindeer herd and culture amidst xenophobia, climate change, and a devious hunter whose targeted kills are considered mere theft in the eyes of the law. Based on real events, Ann-Helén Læstadius’ award-winning novel Stolen has been adapted into a film by Netflix that is part coming-of-age story, part love song to a disappearing natural world, and part electrifying countdown to a dramatic resolution—a searing depiction of a forgotten part of Sweden.

Scandinavian Strawberry Cream Cake (Thursday, 6/20)

Ready to tackle a showstopper of a summer dessert that is secretly easier than it looks? Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen is here to walk you through each element of the classic strawberry cream cake, a must-have for early summer celebrations across Scandinavia. Kristi will demonstrate every step, from baking a vanilla cake to mixing a pastry cream, from mashing up a fresh strawberry filling to finally assembling and decorating, taking questions, and sharing her tips along the way. Students will leave with a full recipe to try on their own just in time for Midsommar. You may register for the class even if you don’t plan to attend live, as the class will be recorded, and the recording made available for all registrants for one month after class for viewing.

Ode to the Midnight Sun: A Midsummer Cocktail Celebration (Friday, 6/21)

Let there be light! Revel in the enchanting Nordic Midsummer with two handcrafted cocktails and a refreshing alcohol-free option. This class will discuss the history and traditions of Sankthans, the Norwegian celebration of the summer solstice, and incorporate ingredients that will bring the magic of the season to your homes and palates. This Vesterheim cooking class is designed as a small-group cook-along, and we invite exchange between the instructor and students in order to build community around food traditions.

Family Handcraft at Home: Rosemaling Rocks (Registration deadline: 7/16)

In August, join beloved rosemaling instructor Lise Lorentzen to explore basic rosemaling techniques and paint rocks that you can use in your garden or give to friends! Inspired both by a painted rock in Vesterheim’s collection and by the groups that paint rocks to hide in nature, this class is the perfect way to explore the traditional handcraft of rosemaling as a family. This program has been designed for families to experience on their own schedules. The $30-per-family price covers the cost of a special folk art class kit designed for two participants to explore rosemaling.

Which events or experiences look interesting to you?

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.