Nordic Events for January 2024: Virtual & Scandinavian Film Festival LA 

Godt nytt år! Happy New Year! January brings both virtual events available to all and a couple of special events happening in the Los Angeles area that might be of interest to local readers. Additionally, online book clubs continue to meet. Visit Nordic Book Club Meetings: January 2024 to see details about book selections and meeting dates for the current and upcoming months.

What’s on your calendar for January?


A reminder that Thomas Dambo TROLLS: Save the Humans is on display at South Coast Botanic Garden on the Palos Verdes Peninsula through January 14. Danish artist Thomas Dambo is considered the world’s leading recycle artist and is known internationally for his larger-than-life, folklore-inspired, whimsical troll sculptures made from reclaimed materials. I’ve been fascinated by Dambo’s work found around the world and was thrilled to be able to see it for myself here in Southern California. I highly recommend a visit to see the collection of trolls before they leave.

The Scandinavian Film Festival LA with BalticFilmExpo @SFFLA celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The festival will be back at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills for two weekends, January 13 & 14 and 20 & 21, with films from Scandinavia and its Nordic and Baltic neighbors. The festival program features a wide variety of films, including the Oscar entries for Best International Feature from each of the Nordic countries. Will any of these Oscar entries make it onto the list of nominations announced on January 24?

🇳🇴 Norway: Songs of Earth, written and directed by Margreth Olin (Saturday, January 13, 1:30 p.m., view trailer)

🇸🇪 Sweden: Opponent, directed by Milad Alami (Sunday, January 14, 4:30 p.m., view trailer)

🇩🇰 Denmark: The Promised Land, directed by Nikolaj Arcel (Sunday, January 14, 7:00 p.m., view trailer)

🇫🇮 Finland: Fallen Leaves, directed by Aki Kaurismäki (Saturday, January 13, 7:00 p.m., view trailer)

🇮🇸 Iceland: Godland, directed by Hlynur Pálmason (Sunday, January 14, 2:00 p.m., view trailer)

Festival goers can purchase a festival pass which includes access to all screenings as well as the opening gala on Saturday, January 13, or buy individual tickets. Buy passes and tickets now.

Save the date! The annual Nordic Spirit Symposium will take place February 9 and 10 at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA. This year’s topic is “Vikings: New Technology – New Discoveries.” Experts from Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden will join for an in-person symposium on recent exciting Viking Age discoveries. A top scholar from the Netherlands will embellish the program with a presentation about the Vikings in the Low Countries. For more details and registration information, visit the website or view the brochure.


The History of Norwegian Sweaters (Thursday, Jan. 4, 6:30 p.m. CT)

Learn about the history of different types and styles of Norwegian sweaters, including Setesdal, Fana, Marius, and Olympic from textile expert and Vesterheim Chief Curator Laurann Gilbertson. Laurann will also discuss the symbolism behind some of the patterns and colors on sweaters made today. This is an open online meeting of Sons of Norway Lodge 1-001 Nidaros, from the Minneapolis, Minnesota, West Area. Laurann will join the meeting remotely to share the presentation. Visitors wishing to attend the meeting may sign up for the Zoom link here.

Intro to Finnish (Sunday, Jan. 7, 12:45 p.m. CT)

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.

Intro to Swedish (Sunday, Jan. 7, 1:00 p.m. CT)

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.

Sámi Histories, Colonization & Today Lecture 1 (Wednesday, Jan. 17, 6:30 p.m. CT)

This is the first of a three-part lecture series held on the third Wednesdays of January, February, and March over Zoom. The Sámi are the only recognized Indigenous people in Europe, whose lands, Sápmi, are claimed and divided by the Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Russian nation-states. Despite the central roles they’ve played in Fennoscandia, the Sámi are commonly rendered as marginal, ahistorical wildlings whose lands are a mismanaged frontier, ripe for the taking. This lecture series illuminates how untrue those renderings are. In this first lecture, students will learn about Sámi oral and archaeological histories, diversity, and land tenure.

ASI Nordic Handcraft: Stamped Tea Towels with Kayla Ann (Thursday, Jan. 18, 6:30 p.m. CT)

Create your own stamps and print a tea towel in just an evening. Kayla will guide students through the process of carving a simple stamp or two, then printing a tea towel right at home. These skills will work for all kinds of future printing projects on paper or fabric, plus you’ll keep your reusable stamps and all the tools you need to keep printing. Suitable for ages 18+.

ASI Nordic Table: Easy Finnish Flatbreads with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, Jan. 18, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Join Kristi Bissell of the True North Kitchen food blog for two easy Finnish flatbreads featuring whole grains for flavor and nutrition! Kristi will start by demonstrating ruisreikäleipä, or Finnish ring bread. Originally hung from the rafters, Kristi’s version of this yeasted rye bread features honey and a cereal soaker, which creates sweet grainy flavor and a soft texture. Kristi will also share her un-yeasted version of rieska, a quick bread that uses buttermilk, baking powder and baking soda for rise. This bread can be made after work for dinner, and uses barley flour and oats for wholesome nutrition, texture and flavor. Students will be ready to start their ovens immediately after class!

ASI Nordic Handcraft: Scandinavian Loom Beaded Folk Band (Fridays, Jan. 19 – Feb. 9, 2:00 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 to make your own red and gold beaded bookmark. Learn about the historic use of loom beading and how a remarkably simple process can transform glass seed beads into delightful designs. Over the four sessions, students will practice warping their own loom, reading a chart, and various finishing options; they should also plan to work on their projects outside of class. Suitable for ages 16+.

Immigration Stories – From Closed Doors to Open Doors (Saturday, Jan. 20, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Artist Arna Rennan will give a presentation about emigration from central Norway featuring songs, images, and anecdotes that she collected in Bøverdalen, Norway. Between 1900 and 1920, half of the population of Bøverdalen immigrated to the United States. Another portion of the population left around 1950 to join relatives who had settled in the United States. Economic and social conditions were among the primary reasons for leaving. Arna takes a closer look at the existing class system found in Norway at the time and how the rural communities dealt with poverty. She will share some of these stories to bring the immigrant experience to life. This is a hybrid presentation. Watch from home on Zoom as Arna presents at Vesterheim.

Exploring Numedal Style Rosemaling with Patti Goke (Sunday, Jan. 28, 1:00 p.m. CT)

When you hear of the style of painting that comes from Numedal, Norway, what image comes to mind? It is hard for even experts in rosemaling to think of a typical Numedal piece. That is because it had so many influences from Hallingdal and Telemark painters. Come and explore with Patti Goke, Vesterheim Gold Medalist, the different looks of the painted items from Numedal Valley. She has traveled twice to the valley known as the “Valley of the Middle Ages,” both times with Vesterheim on Folk Art Study Tours.

Wellbeing Workshop: Embracing Winter with Norwegian Friluftsliv (Tuesday, Jan. 30, 11:00 a.m. PT)

In 2024, the National Nordic Museum is prioritizing their personal well-being! Join health psychologist Kari Leibowitz, PhD in this one-hour interactive workshop to learn about the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv; the psychological and health benefits of getting outside, connecting with nature, and practicing friluftsliv; and how you can incorporate the practice into your own life to make the most out of the winter.

Introduction to Norwegian Genealogy (Thurs., Feb. 1 & Fri., Feb. 2 (10:00 a.m. CT)

Join the Norwegian American Genealogical Center in Madison, Wisconsin, for this online class. It is for those who are familiar with genealogy basics, but haven’t dug into Norwegian genealogical research yet. The class will focus on Norwegian naming traditions, history and geography along with strategies for reading old handwriting and finding where in Norway your ancestor may have originated. This class also includes a copy of their “Research Guide for Norwegian Genealogy: For Beginning and Experienced Genealogists.” This class is two days with different material presented each day.

ASI Nordic Table: Scandinavian Chocolate Treats with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, Feb. 8, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Very few of us can say no to a chocolate treat, and Scandinavians regularly end up on the list of top 10 countries for chocolate consumption per capita—so join Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen for an overview of their favorite classic chocolate bakes! From kladdkaka (chocolate gooey cake) to a few beloved cookies, and even an oven free chocolate treat, the chokladboll, Kristi will share tips and tricks for working with cocoa and chocolate to create satisfying and easy treats perfect for dessert or fika.

Virtual Sámi Film Festival (Feb. 9-12)

The 6th Annual Sámi Film Festival returns to the National Nordic Museum this February. Presented as a partnership between the National Nordic Museum in Seattle and Scandinavia House in New York, the festival will take place virtually from February 9-12 and in-person at both venues. The program will include a variety of contemporary and historical Sámi features, documentaries, and short films curated by Liselotte Wajstedt, an award-winning Stockholm-based Sámi multimedia artist from Kiruna, Sweden.

Which events or experiences look interesting to you?

March 2023: Nordic Events & Films at The Oscars

Welcome to the newest listing of Nordic events happening this month!

With the Oscars around the corner (March 12), there’s no time like the present to watch the films with Nordic connections, most of which you can watch from the comfort of your own home. Two Nordic films are nominated for Best Short Film (Live Action) – Norwegian film Night Ride filmed in Trondheim (YouTube, free), and Danish film Ivalu filmed in Greenland (Amazon Prime Video or Vimeo). Triangle of Sadness, directed by Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund, is nominated for three awards – Best Directing, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture (Fandango). Animated short film My Year of Dicks directed by Icelandic director Sara Gunnarsdóttir (Vimeo, free) and documentary A House Made of Splinters directed by Danish filmmaker Simon Lereng Wilmont (Amazon Prime Video) are nominated in their respective fields. Have you seen any of them?

While on the topic of films, there’s a new Norwegian movie available to stream at Netflix. At the beginning of February, Netflix released Viking Wolf (Vikingulven), an original Norwegian horror/mystery movie that premiered in Norway in the fall of 2022. It’s about a teenager who starts having strange visions and bizarre desires after witnessing a grotesque murder at a party in her new town. The movie is directed by Stig Svendsen from a screenplay co-written by him and Espen Aukan. Will you watch it?

In music news, Norwegian singer-songwriter Anna of the North has a US and Canada tour happening in March and April. “Anna Of The North makes the kind of music you can take along with you on the dancefloor, on a long drive with a loved one, or in the dead of night when you’re alone and need someone to understand how you feel.” Read more about her here. Her North American tour celebrates the release of her third full-length album, “Crazy Life.” Visit her site for schedule and ticket information. She will be in Los Angeles at El Rey Theatre on Wednesday, March 29.

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

What’s on your calendar for March?

Virtual Events in March

Rønnaug Petterssen Presentation (Saturday, Mar. 4, 3:00 p.m. CT, Free)

Join Vesterheim and Bodil Petterssen Meleney for an online presentation about beloved dollmaker Rønnaug Petterssen. Petterssen’s dolls are featured in Vesterheim’s exhibition, Dolls: Playing with Identity. Rønnaug Petterssen was born in 1901 into a rural fishing community in Eidsfjorden in Vesteralen, Norway, north of the Arctic Circle. Growing up, time to play was scarce and toys were a luxury. Rønnaug made herself a doll and she would make repairs and fashion new clothes as needed. In 1934, Rønnaug started her own dollmaking business and by 1936-37 she had two or three employees. She developed dolls with Norwegian costumes, studying costumes in the collection of the Norwegian Folk Museum. Rønnaug Pettersen made a variety of dolls (pressed felt and plastic) and was the leading maker of Norwegian costume dolls from 1934 to 1979. The 8-inch costume dolls were particularly popular with American tourists.

Introduction to Swedish (Sunday, Mar. 5, 1:00 p.m. CT)

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.

Billedvev Frame-Loom Weaving Workshop with Allyce Wood (Sunday, Mar. 5, 1:00 p.m. ET)

Learn the basics of weaving through the use of humble materials and step-by-step instruction. A common picture frame, with glass and backing removed, becomes the ultimate structure with which to create upon. Learn how to wind it with cotton thread to create your warp, and build up your piece weft by weft with a variety of yarns. Discover how color blocking, thread patterns, and textured effects can yield endless possibilities!

Virtual Nordic Language Café with The Scandinavian School in San Francisco (Sunday, Mar. 5, 5:00 p.m. PT)

Get ready 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. Are you a beginner? No worries! All levels are welcome. The Cafés are very relaxed and friendly, and if you feel more comfortable listening rather than speaking there is a spot for you in the 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 Scandinavian School & Cultural Center to join.

Lecture: Handweaving in Sweden Today (Tuesday, Mar. 7, 6:30 p.m. CT)

Are you curious about the state of handweaving in Sweden today? Weaver Christine Novotny of CAN Goods traveled through the Nordic countries summer 2022 as part of North House Folk’s Artisan Development Program and is here to report on her trip! In particular, Christine has takeaways from visiting the new generation of weavers coming out of Sweden’s largest craft education schools, Handarbetets Vänner in Stockholm and Sätergläntan Institute for Craft in Dalarna. She will share the stories of some of the younger weavers she met, the work they are doing, and how they are both pushing the boundaries of traditional Swedish weaving as well as preserving knowledge of techniques and materials. Christine will also share some of her other favorite travel highlights (textiles and beyond) from her time in Stockholm and Dalarna.

Swedish Weeknight Dinners (Thursday, Mar. 9, 5:00 p.m. CT)

Need some fun ideas for simple, creative weeknight dinners? Look to the Swedes for some unique flavors that are easy to pull together even on those busy nights. You’ll make an American version of västerbottensostpaj (cheese pie), embrace the Swedish motto “Tacos, not just for Friday’s anymore” with taco paj, and you’ll dive into the oddly delicious Swedish hotdish called flygande jakob. Menu will include signature cocktails that every age can enjoy.

Introduction to Finnish (Sunday, Mar. 12, 12:45 p.m. CT)

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.

Scandinavian Modern Design in Norway (Tuesday, Mar. 18, 7:00 p.m. ET)

Join the Sons of Norway Washington D.C. lodge and Vesterheim Chief Curator Laurann Gilbertson for this online presentation on Norway’s contributions to the Scandinavian Modern Design movement. There were many, but the artists and products were not as well known as their Danish, Swedish, and Finnish counterparts. During the presentation, Laurann will introduce some of the most important designers of the mid-twentieth century and learn about their work in furniture, textiles, silver, glass, ceramics, and enamel.

Demo: Scandinavian Waffle Day with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, Mar. 23, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Get ready for våffeldagen (Waffle Day) on March 25 by watching how Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen makes a batch of Scandinavian style waffles with festive toppings. Kristi will demo how to mix and cook the typical thin, heart shaped Scandinavian waffles and share fun ideas for making them into the centerpiece of a meal for this unique holiday. Students will leave with the recipes and lots of tips, inspired to bake their own batch of waffles at home!

Tropical Aquavit Cocktails with Emily Vikre (Friday, Mar. 24, 7:00 p.m. CT)

Although you may not expect it, aquavit pairs deliciously with tropical fruits! Whether or not you have taken a class with us already, you will enjoy learning some new cocktail recipes in this new class featuring aquavit, the traditional Scandinavian spirit with centuries of tradition and celebration. Emily Vikre of Vikre Distillery will inspire you with her Nordic twist on classic tropical cocktails and her storytelling about the history of aquavit, as well as her contemporary lifestyle as a dual Norwegian citizen living in Duluth, Minnesota. Be prepared to concoct delicious tropical aquavit drinks while engaging with Emily and other cocktail enthusiasts during this fun evening class.

FamilieTid: Baking with Kristi Bissell (Sunday, Mar. 26, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Gather the family and join Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen as you make two classic Scandinavian cookie recipes together: Raspberry Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies (Hallongrottor) and No Bake Chocolate Oat Balls (Chokladbollar). These are two fun, family-friendly sweet treats you will want to make again and again.


Looking Ahead and Planning for April

Påskebord, Easter Table (Saturday, Apr. 1, 4:00 p.m. CT)

Across Scandinavia, Easter/Påske fare includes all of the familiar suspects: chocolate, eggs, chocolate eggs, and chocolate bunnies. There is also påskeøl (Easter beer) and egg hunts in the garden. But other traditions look a little more like Halloween, especially as Swedish children dress up like witches and go door to door asking for treats. Join Patrice Johnson and learn about these traditions while whipping up a Påskebord (Easter table) that includes Not-so-devilish eggs, gjetost cider soup with rye croutons, trout with horseradish butter and mushrooms, an orange-almond dessert, and a signature cocktail/mocktail.

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.

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)

In April, 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. 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.

Scandinavian Flat Plane Carving: Figure with Cap and Cane (Wednesdays, Apr. 5-19, 6:00-7:30 p.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim and carver Charles Banks as he guides you through the creation of your very own flat plane figure. A Scandinavian classic, a stylized old man with cap and cane will be the character you create. Following the tradition of flat plane figure carving, students will use only a single knife to carve out this character. Students will receive an overview of the history and traditions of this style of carving, be introduced to the cuts and techniques of the reductive carving process, and learn finishing techniques – all culminating in their very own carving. Live instruction and video tutorials will be utilized as educational tools, as well as practice sticks, a unique “head study,” and printed imagery of your character. A complete kit of materials (blanks, a knife, safety gloves, a strop and stropping compound, try sticks, and a sweet treat from Vesterheim) is included and will be mailed to you.

Nordic Spirit Classics’ Second Friday Series (Friday, Apr. 14, 7:30 p.m. PT)

Save the date for the next session of Nordic Spirit Classics’ Second Friday Series presented by the Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation in Thousand Oaks, California. The program will feature West Coast history and Scandinavian immigrant history that was essential for building the West.

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

Join 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.

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.

Scandinavian Film Festival LA 2018: A Preview

The first weekend of 2018 welcomes “top films from the top of Europe” at the annual Scandinavian Film Festival Los Angeles (SFFLA). Despite its name, the scope of the festival actually extends beyond Scandinavia. Besides films from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, festival goers can view films from Iceland and Finland as well as Baltic neighbors Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania. The festival will take place over two weekends, January 6 & 7 and 20 & 21, at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills. Continue reading