April 2024: In-Person & Virtual Nordic Events

Happy Spring! And welcome to the latest listing of Nordic events. In addition to the usual list of virtual food, arts & crafts, book & film, and genealogy & history events, this month’s post includes a few special online premieres and in-person events happening in Southern California. Let me know in the comments what interests you the most.


For Southern California readers, the Philharmonic Society of Orange County invites you to celebrate their 70th anniversary with a performance of Nordic folk music by Danish String Quartet at the Westside Museum in Costa Mesa on Friday, April 12. “The versatile members of the Danish String Quartet bring the musical flavors of their homeland, weaving Nordic folklore into the sound world of classical music. The string quartet sound further enhances the depth of feelings invoked by the sublime melodies and harmonies in sophisticated arrangements of traditional Faroese ballads, waltzes, and Nordic folk tunes.” Tickets are $35 and readers of AVikingInLA can receive $5 off with code HYGGE.

On Saturday, April 20, the Daughters of Norway, Turid Jespersen Lodge #44, will host their annual Scandinavian Heritage Fair in Mission Viejo. There will be demonstrations of traditional crafts such as rosemaling, spinning, weaving, wood carvers, and wood burners, as well as a genealogy booth. Watch the preparation of traditional foods such as aebleskiver, krumkake, lefse, and Norwegian waffles. Enjoy open-faced sandwiches, rømmegrøt, soups, kransekake, and other Scandinavian desserts. The fair will also feature products from Norrdesign T-Shirts, Norwegian Seamen’s Church, Karlsson’s Scandinavian Designs, and Joan Johnson Watercolor Cards. Admission is free. See their flier for details.

On Sunday, April 28, the Los Angeles Kubb Club is holding its 8th annual West Coast Kubb Championships in South Pasadena’s Orange Grove Park. They welcome players of all levels and ages. A team can have anywhere from 2 to 6 players. There will be a full morning of group play and two playoff brackets in the afternoon. Everyone is guaranteed several hours of kubbing fun and there are many opportunities to bring home some hardware – even if you’re not a touring player! Since 2016, the LA Kubb Club has welcomed friends and fellow kubb enthusiasts from around town and all over the country to Orange Grove Park every April for a day of fun and friendly competition in the sun. They hope you’ll join them!

Then on the weekend of May 18 & 19 in Thousand Oaks, the Scandinavian Festival returns for its 50th anniversary. Tickets are already on sale. Consider volunteering at the festival. For your time, you will receive an official festival t-shirt and complimentary admission. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities for adults, college students, and high school students. They need assistance with children’s crafts, family activities, and gate entrances. At the last festival, my son and I volunteered, him at the Take a Liking to a Viking photo opp station and me at the Head Wreaths booth. Interested or have questions? Reach out to scanfestvolunteers@gmail.com.


Last month the website Crossings: Norway & North America 1825-2025 went live in anticipation of the bicentennial of the first organized Norwegian migration to North America. Visit the website to learn about this first migration from Norway to North America in 1825, find resources for the bicentennial year, and view upcoming events around the country. The website will be updated as the bicentennial year approaches.

Premiering on April 12 is the Netflix film Stolen directed by Norwegian Sámi Elle Márjá Eira. It is an adaptation of Swedish Sámi author Ann-Helén Laestadius’ novel of the same name. “The film adaption portrays a young woman’s struggle to defend her indigenous heritage in a world where xenophobia is on the rise, climate change is threatening reindeer herding, and young people choose suicide in the face of collective desperation. But the story also lays bare the tensions that arise when modern ideas come up against a traditional culture with deeply rooted patriarchal structures” (source). I really enjoyed the book (Reading Lately, April 2023) and am eagerly looking forward to this film adaptation.


Online book clubs continue to meet. Visit Nordic Book Club Meetings: April 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 to sign up before it’s too late, visit Vesterheim: Online Folk Art Courses.

ASI Nordic Table Event: Barley in the Nordic Kitchen (Thursday, 4/11)

Barley is one of the earliest cultivated grains in the Nordic region, and thousands of years later, it still deserves our attention! Low in gluten and high in fiber, barley was historically used for bread baking as well as brewing. In this virtual demo, Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen will help us decode the different types of whole barley available, and also share why this is one of her favorite flours to keep on hand. Kristi will demo a delicious scone, a fresh salad perfect for spring, and discuss how she incorporates it into other dishes from breakfast to dinner. Healthy, delicious, and accommodating, barley might become your new favorite grain! 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.

Norwegian Raspeboller ​​(Potato Dumplings): Techniques and Different Ways to Serve as a Traditional Feast (Saturday, 4/13)

Join Vesterheim and Nevada Berg of North Wild Kitchen in making traditional Norwegian potato dumplings, known by many names such as raspeballer, komle, and klubb. Nevada will show various techniques in how to make them and the different ways to serve and stuff them. We’ll include mashed rutabaga and various meats for a complete meal. So, come and enjoy a whole platter of dumpling deliciousness. This course is currently full, but you can be added to the waitlist.

Decoding the Baldishol Tapestry: Learning to See the Hidden Stories, Symbolism, and Techniques in the Textile (Sunday, 4/14, Free)

Created in the late 1100s and rediscovered rolled up and stuffed under the floorboards of the Baldishol Church in Norway in the late 1800s, this impressive fragment of a much larger tapestry (or series of tapestries) depicting the “Labors of the Months” remains shrouded in mystery. In this webinar, join tapestry instructor and historical enthusiast Laura Berlage of Erindale Tapestry Studio on her journey to crack the code of what this piece has to tell us. From expressions of wealth to ancient churches, raising doves to the Medieval fur trade, constellation calendars to the language of love, there are so many overlapping stories to explore, including thoughts on why the piece was tucked away for centuries.

Family Handcraft at Home: Hand Quilting (Enrollment Deadline: 4/16)

Enroll now to enjoy this family course that begins May 1 and will be available all month. Enjoy the slowness of handcraft while learning to sew a finished quilt block without a sewing machine. Quilt blocks can make lovely wall hangings, a small mat for your morning coffee or tea, or a sweet blanket for a child’s toy. This project is perfect for school aged children (and up) who can confidently use a needle and thread. Enjoy the process of working at your own pace while watching the detailed video tutorial, leading you through each step of your quilt block. The $30-per-family price covers the cost of a special folk art class kit designed for two participants to explore quilting. Enrollment Deadline: 4/16

Vesterheim: Chip Carved Butter Spreader (Friday, 4/19)

Learn basic carving and chip carving while making a butter spreader! In this course you will learn Scandinavian knife holds to carve a butter spreader and then adorn the handle using chip carving techniques. Each student will receive two butter spreader blanks made out of dry basswood. One will be carved and adorned in class while the other will be saved for practice. This course is currently full, but you can be added to the waitlist.

Films from the Faroe Islands (Virtual Screening Package) (Available 4/19 – 5/5)

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.

Springtime Smørbrød with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, 4/25)

Join Vesterheim and Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen for a celebration of spring smørbrød! In this hands-on virtual class, you will prepare an assortment of Scandinavian-style open face sandwiches showcasing the delicious ingredients of the spring season. Kristi will also share tips and tricks for styling your smørbrød with Nordic flair. This course is currently full, but you can be added to the waitlist.

Genealogy Session with Swedish American Museum (Saturday, 4/27)

Delve into ancestry and history at one of Swedish American Museum’s Genealogy sessions. This month, Marie Thourson will be discussing the Great Chicago Fire. In October 1871, roughly 10,000 Swedish immigrants were living in Chicago. Half of them clustered in the neighborhood around Chicago Avenue, known as “Swede Town,” where merchants, doctors, and other businesses flourished. Five Swedish churches stood in this area as did the Svea Society, a cultural magnet for more secular Swedes. When the Fire broke out in Mrs. O’Leary’s west side barn on the evening of Sunday, October 8, north side residents thought they were safely distant from the flames. By morning, they were fleeing for their lives. Based largely on eyewitness reports in Swedish and Swedish American newspapers, this talk brings to light the experiences of the Swedish community.

Vesterheim: Sámi-Inspired Bracelets with Liz Bucheit (Sat., 4/27 & Sun., 4/28)

In this online class, 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. The class will consist of three sessions over two days, and 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 Liz has discussed and demonstrated before moving on to the next part of the bracelet construction. Enrollment Deadline: 4/13


Vesterheim: Gravlax 101 with Patrice Johnson (Saturday, 5/4)

Join Patrice Johnson, the self-titled “Nordic Food Geek,” for a delicious Nordic-inspired brunch that will teach you the beginning ins and outs of gravlax and all of the important accompaniments. This class will have your kitchen smelling like a Nordic deli! We’ll also make a signature cocktail and mocktail, and other delicious bites perfect for your favorite weekend meal. Enrollment Deadline: 4/19

ASI Nordic Table Event: Swedish Cardamom Buns with Kristi Bissell (Thurs., 5/9)

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 Filmprat: Stolen (Wednesday, 6/12)

Register now to join Vesterheim’s Filmprat to discuss Stolen, the new Netflix original film based on Ann-Helén Laestadius’ novel of the same name premiering 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 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. Enrollment Deadline: 5/23

Which events or experiences look interesting to you?

Special Nordic Exhibitions Across the Country This Summer

Happy summer! Welcome to a special edition of Nordic Events, this one featuring temporary in-person exhibitions happening across the country this summer (see this post for virtual events happening this summer). All these summer exhibitions intrigue me. Maybe you’re lucky to live nearby one or are traveling to the area this summer.

I had the opportunity to see Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980 when it was at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) earlier this year. It was an interesting exhibition with a great variety of objects on display — furniture, tapestries, children’s objects, and decorative objects, just to name a few. I did have an issue with it, though; they used the terms “Scandinavian” and “Nordic” interchangeably. These terms do not mean the same thing. I discovered after the fact (in my own photo actually!) that they did address this issue in a sidenote. I wish I had noticed it while there because not knowing this tainted my enjoyment of the exhibition a bit. However, it doesn’t prevent me from recommending it, and you are forewarned about the use of those terms. Don’t miss the exhibition’s gift store. I walked away with a bag of delicious Scandinavian sockerbit candy. Maybe it will be available in Milwaukee as well (if not, they have an online store).

Which exhibition are you most interested in seeing?

New York, NY – Arctic Highways at Scandinavia House (Now – 7/22)

Currently taking place in New York City at Scandinavia House and continuing through July 22 is the exhibition Arctic Highways: Works by Twelve Indigenous Artists from Sápmi, Canada, and Alaska. “Arctic Highways brings together the artwork and handicrafts of 12 Indigenous artists from Sápmi, Canada and Alaska in an exhibition highlighting the thriving cultural and spiritual communities of the Arctic region.” While there, enjoy Nordic dining at the new Björk Cafe & Bistro at Scandinavia House. It features Scandinavian classics, American favorites with a Nordic twist, and seasonal favorites.

Also in New York City this summer, Scandinavia House’s Nordic Summer Jazz series returns. Some of Scandinavia’s most talented young jazz musicians, composers, and singers will perform weekly on Thursday evenings starting June 6 and continuing through July 6. This year’s performers include Kaisa’s Machine (Finland), Sara Magnusdottir Trio (Iceland), Mathias Jensen (Denmark), Risberg Stenmark Duo (Sweden), and Timothy Johnson (Norway).

Milwaukee, WI – Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980 at Milwaukee Art Museum (Now – 7/23)

Los Angeles area readers may recognize this exhibition from its run at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) this past fall/winter season. Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980 is co-organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum and LACMA in collaboration with the Nationalmuseum Sweden and the Nasjonalmuseet in Norway and is now on display in Milwaukee until July 23. It’s “the first exhibition to explore the extensive design exchanges between the United States and Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Iceland during the 20th century.”

Seattle, WA – FLÓÐ (Flood) by Jónsi at National Nordic Museum (Now – 8/6)

If you’re in the Seattle area, consider visiting the National Nordic Museum to see the unique music, light, and scent installation FLÓÐ (Flood) by Jónsi. It is on display through July 30. Created specifically for the museum, “the exhibition highlights the natural connections between the coastal cities of Seattle and Reykjavik, which became sister cities in 1986. Changing environmental conditions within the gallery will engage the visitors’ senses of hearing, sight, and smell to transport them to the ocean.” And while there, of course view the permanent exhibition Nordic Journeys, where “you will meet ancient nomadic and contemporary semi-nomadic peoples, Vikings, explorers, emigrants, and expatriates—all with a story to tell.”

Minneapolis, MN – New Nordic Cuisine at Norway House (Now – 8/12)

Are you or will you be in the Minneapolis area? Consider visiting Norway House to view New Nordic Cuisine on display until August 12. Organized by Museum of Danish America, this traveling exhibition “explores the values that bring together traditional flavors, local producers, and innovative techniques in an exhibit that celebrates one of the most important cultural phenomena to come out of the Nordic countries in recent decades.” For those who can’t visit or want more, the Nordic Cuisine YouTube channel shares stories from recipe demonstrations to restaurant tours, to interviews with influential chefs and foodies, as a way to share these culturally important stories with all.

Williamstown, MA – Edvard Munch: Trembling Earth at The Clark (6/10 – 10/15)

Opening June 10 at The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, is Edvard Munch: Trembling Earth. “Edvard Munch: Trembling Earth is the first exhibition in the United States to consider how the noted Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863–1944) employed nature to convey meaning in his art. Munch is regarded primarily as a figure painter, and his most celebrated images (including his iconic The Scream) are connected to themes of love, anxiety, longing, and death. Yet, landscape plays an essential role in a large portion of Munch’s work. Edvard Munch: Trembling Earth considers this important, but less explored, aspect of the artist’s career.” It is on exhibit until October 15 when it moves to Museum Barberini, Potsdam, and then to Munchmuseet, Oslo, for the summer of 2024.

Decorah, IA – Sámi Dreams at Vesterheim (7/1 – 10/31)

Opening July 1 and running through October 31, Vesterheim in Decorah, Iowa, presents Sámi Dreams: Portraits of Resilience in the Norwegian Arctic, a traveling exhibit organized by Norway House. This exhibit will feature 18 photographic portraits of Sámi men and women in Scandinavia along with recorded interviews by researcher Randall Hyman that touch on indigenous rights, climate change, reindeer husbandry, art, and other topics. To accompany the photographs, Vesterheim has invited American artists to exhibit jewelry inspired by Sámi art, traditions, and history. While there, don’t forget to leave time for Vesterheim’s Main Building with four floors of artifacts and Heritage Park with 12 historic buildings (see Vesterheim’s Visitor Guide).

Portland, OR – Threads | Þræðir at Nordia House (7/8 – 11/5)

And finally, opening July 8 and continuing through November 5 at Nordic Northwest’s Nordia House is Threads | Þræðir Intertwined in Iceland: Textiles and Book Arts. “Books and textiles are the two forms of artistic expression that have the longest history and tradition in Iceland, but it is rare that books and textiles are intertwined. This exhibition showcases artists’ books and textile pieces by Icelandic artists and visiting artists who have been inspired by the country’s landscapes, people, language and textile traditions.”

Luckily, it seems I will be able to catch the Munch exhibition in Massachusetts right before it closes. Munch’s landscape paintings are actually some of my favorite ones of his.

Did I miss a special Nordic exhibition taking place this summer, or have you seen any of these exhibitions? Please share in the comments!

February 2023: Nordic Events & Sámi National Day

February brings an interesting mix of in-person events for Angelenos and online events for everyone. Of special interest this month is Sámi National Day, an ethnic national day celebrated by the indigenous Sámi people across northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. It is always on February 6, the date when the first Sámi congress was held in 1917 in Trondheim, Norway. On that day, Sámi from Norway and Sweden met to discuss common issues. For more information on the history and culture of the Sámi, visit Life in Norway’s “The Sami People”.

There’s a new Norwegian movie available to stream. At the end of January, Netflix released Narvik, an original Norwegian World War II movie that takes place in 1940 in the port town of Narvik in the far north of Norway, 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It is subtitled “Hitler’s First Defeat”. The events that inspired Narvik are true, but the story is told from the perspective of fictional characters. The movie, directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg from a screenplay by Christopher Grøndahl, is available dubbed or with subtitles. The film premiered in Norway in December 2022. Will you watch it?

Looking ahead… Norwegian singer-songwriter Anna of the North has a US & 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 tour and ticket details.

Online Nordic book clubs continue to be popular. Visit Online Nordic Book Club Meetings to see reading selections and meeting dates for February and upcoming months.

Los Angeles Area In-Person Events in February

Norwegian Classes at the Norwegian Church in San Pedro — Starts Feb. 4

Learn Norwegian at the Norwegian Church in San Pedro starting on Saturday, February 4. Three levels will be offered: Beginners at 10:00 a.m., Intermediate at 12:00 p.m., and Advanced at 2:00 p.m. Suggested donation is $100 for the whole course (10 Saturdays). While you’re at the church, enjoy a bowl of Saturday porridge! For more information, contact mof@church.no or call (310) 467-5180.

Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890-1980 @LACMA — Ends Feb. 5

This exhibit closes February 5. It is the first exhibition to examine the extensive design exchanges between the United States and the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) during the 20th century. See it before it closes! Many of the issues considered in the exhibition remain relevant today, including the contributions of immigrants to their adopted societies, the importance of international exchange, critical analysis of cultural myths, and concern about environmental sustainability and accessibility. Read about the process of designing the exhibit at Designing an Exhibition: Scandinavian Design and the United States.

Nordic Spirit Symposium: Scandinavian Design — Feb. 10 & 11 in Thousand Oaks

This year’s theme is Scandinavian Design: Simple and Beautiful. In the middle of the 20th century, Danish Modern and, more generally, Scandinavian Modern Design, gained popularity in the United States. This symposium will examine the reasons for this popularity, will delve into different design media for two countries, Finland and Norway, and will treat the long-term history of ceramic and glass design in Denmark and Sweden. The theme of Scandinavian design applied to architecture and interior design will be addressed in the opening talk February 10 by an Icelandic American architect. All presentations will be amply illustrated. In addition, the program will include music as three string instruments of different designs, the Finnish Kantele, the Norwegian Hardanger Fiddle, and the Swedish Nyckelharpa, will be described and played.

For complete program details, see the brochure or visit the website. The meal registration deadline has been extended through February 3. To pay by check, use the printable registration form. To pay by credit card, use the Eventbrite event page.

Concert Celebrating Female Nordic Composers at the Norwegian Church — Happening Feb. 11

Join the Norwegian Church in San Pedro for a concert on Saturday, February 11, at 2:00 p.m. celebrating female Nordic composers. Performers will be Helena Falk on violin (Meet Helena Maria Falk), Christina Sandsengen on classical guitar (Meet Christina Sandsengen), and Lene Skomedal on French horn (Meet Lene Skomedal). Concert is free; donations to the musicians accepted.

Virtual Events in February

In Trunks, Hands, and Hearts: What Norwegian Immigrants Brought to the United States (Thursday, Feb. 2, 6:30 p.m. CT)

Join Sons of Norway Nidaros Lodge # 1-001 (West Minneapolis) and Vesterheim Collection Manager Jennifer Kovarik to explore the immigrant experience through stories associated with artifacts in Vesterheim’s collection. Between 1825 and 1980, nearly one million Norwegians left for new lives in America. We’ll consider the reasons for leaving, what they brought, and where they settled.

The Living Archive: Examining and Reimagining Heirloom Heddles with Kerstin Neumüller (Saturday, Feb. 4, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Join celebrated Swedish carver and weaver Kerstin Neumüller as she examines heddles from Vesterheim’s collection. Used in bandweaving, heddles were often carved by men as a courting gift for women. Because of this, many historic heddles are ornately decorated with everything from hearts to dates to initials. Throughout the discussion of Vesterheim’s collection of heddles, Kerstin will also share about her relationship with traditional handcraft in contemporary Scandinavia.

Meet the Author: Nicklas Brendborg, Jellyfish Age Backwards (Sunday, Feb. 5, 10:00 a.m. PT)

Join Dr. Elizabeth DeNoma (DeNoma Literary Services) in virtual conversation with Nicklas Brendborg, author of the international bestseller Jellyfish Age Backwards: Nature’s Secrets to Longevity. This eye-opening work offers a revelatory scientific deep dive into how plants and animals have already unlocked the secrets to immortality – and the lessons they hold for us all.

Introduction to North Sámi (Sunday, Feb. 5, 2:00 p.m. CT)

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!

Demo: Baking Swedish Semlor with Kristi Bissell (Thursday, Feb. 9, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Pick up tricks for making a sweet winter treat by watching Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen bake and fill a batch of cardamom and almond flavored semlor in this virtual demonstration. Traditionally served on Fat Tuesday and now enjoyed throughout the winter, semlor are an indulgent winter treat across Scandinavia. Kristi will use multiple batches of dough to demonstrate how to make the Swedish version of these buns, from mixing and kneading the cardamom flavored dough, to preparing the almond paste and whipped cream filling, to baking and assembling the finished buns. Students will leave with the recipe and lots of tips, inspired to bake their own batch of semlor at home!

Sámi Film Fest (February 9-12)

The 5th Annual Sámi Film Festival explores Sámi stories through film in a must-see hybrid event taking place both in-personal and virtually. The Festival is organized by the National Nordic Museum in Seattle and Scandinavia House in New York and presented in partnership with Pacific Sámi Searvi. Attendees can screen films online on February 9-12 and in person at both venues on February 11. The program will include a variety of contemporary Sámi documentaries, short films, and panel discussions with the filmmakers. In 2023, the Sámi Film Festival will feature the selections of this year’s guest curator of film and acclaimed Skolt Sámi director Katja Gauriloff.

Registration for Vesterheim Folk Art School Spring Classes Opens (Friday, Feb. 10, 12:00 p.m. CT)

Vesterheim Folk Art School in Decorah, Iowa, is a popular destination for online classes. Registration for April through June 2023 classes opens on Friday, February 10, at noon (CT) with classes in rosemaling, woodworking, jewelry, cooking, fiber arts, weaving, and heritage and language, plus youth and family programming. See a list of spring classes here. Classes sell out quickly so if you see something interesting, sign up quickly!

Love Spells from Norwegian Grimoires: A Conversation with Eirik Storesund from the Brute Norse Podcast (Wednesday, Feb. 15, 7:00 p.m. CT)

Old Norse philologist Eirik Storesund, host and creator of the Brute Norse podcast, has translated a curated selection of charms, spells, and sorcerous recipes from Norwegian grimoires and vernacular tradition on the topic of love and romance. Learn about everything from Norwegian “black books” to bowl inscriptions as he discusses folk magic and shares some terrible ideas and (mostly) bad advice for your love life. Join us for a fascinating glimpse into the magically infused romantic liaisons of pre-industrial Scandinavia. Registration is required for this free event.

Painting with Wool: Dala Horse Needle Felting Workshop (Saturday, Feb. 18, 11:00 a.m.)

Join Scandinavia House and explore the magic of needle felting with a delightful Dala horse image and take your colorwork skills to a new level. Dala horses have been a Swedish icon for centuries, and this class will take a new spin on the traditional wooden-painted form by recreating the image in wool. During this class, students will learn how to stretch a felt backing onto an embroidery hoop and keep it tight for ease of use. Plus, they will learn to transform the beautiful array of hand-dyed roving from the instructor’s farm’s sheep into their own interpretation of the project. Focus will be given to shape creation, colorwork, and three-dimensionality. This is a beginner-friendly course. See class description for what it is included in the kit and would you need to provide.

Silver Threads: Exploring Norwegian Sámi Silver with Liz Bucheit (Saturday, Feb. 25, 1:00 p.m. CT)

Goldsmith and folk-art instructor Liz Bucheit is a 2021 recipient of the American Scandinavian Foundation’s Scandinavian Folk Arts and Cultural Traditions in the Upper Midwest Fellowship. Liz traveled to northern Norway to research and study Sámi silver work in order to broaden her knowledge of historic design, tools, and techniques unique to the Sámi culture. She is sharing this knowledge in an effort to encourage a broader awareness of Sámi silver work within the folk culture and traditions of Scandinavian ornament. Registration is required for the free event.

Looking and Planning Ahead to March

Cozy Cocktails for Cold Weather (Friday, Mar. 3, 7:00 p.m. CT)

An important part of Nordic culture is the willingness to embrace the cold, dark winter. In this class, you will focus on hot beverages and the power they have to get us feeling koselig, or “cozy.” You’ll learn some new recipes while also developing the skills to create your own unique hot toddy. Take your warm cocktail outside and embrace the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv, or getting outdoors. Skål!

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.

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. We’ll make an American version of västerbottensostpaj (cheese pie), embrace the Swedish motto “Tacos, not just for Friday’s anymore” with taco paj, and we’ll dive into the oddly delicious Swedish hotdish called flygande jakob. Menu will include signature cocktails that every age can enjoy.

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.

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.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (January 2022) & #ScandiReadingChallenge Update

It was a surprisingly strong reading start to 2022 and even more surprising was the fact that most of my reads were Nordic books (Icelandic and Norwegian). The high number of books is due to binge reading/listening to the last 2 books in an engrossing crime fiction trilogy as well as reading a short novel and a middle grade book. Future months are not likely to be this full of books.

The 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge is underway. I’m currently reading the first book for the challenge, Norwegian author Roy Jacobsen’s The Unseen, a book I’ve had both in original language and in English on my shelf for a while (2022 Reading Intentions, read off my shelf!). This book takes place in the time period 1910s and 1920s and chronicles the life of a family living on a remote island in Northern Norway, a life very tied to geography and weather. For details on the reading challenge and insight into this time period along with a few reading ideas, visit 2022 Scandinavian Reading Challenge.

What have you been reading lately?

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
(Narrated by Emily Rankin and Catherine Taber)

I love historical fiction that opens my eyes to a period of time or an event that I have little to no knowledge of, and this book did just that in a big way. The book is based on a real-life scandal in the Memphis, Tennessee, area in which poor children were kidnapped and sold to wealthy families (1920s-1950). Just the thought of that is unbelievable and then seeing it from the perspective of a child experiencing it was heartbreaking. The structure of the book was unique. The story jumped between 1939 when 12-year-old Rill and her younger siblings were kidnapped to the present when a successful daughter returns home to help with her father’s illness and begins to dig into her family’s history. I followed both storylines with equal interest and engagement eager to find out the connection. A 5-star listen and read for me. (I generally listened to it but had to have the ebook available too so I could read in the evening.)

The Island (Hidden Iceland/Hulda Series, #2) by Ragnar Jónasson
(Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb)
(Narrated by Angela Redman)

After finishing the first book in the Hidden Iceland trilogy last month, I decided to jump on the second book. The ending of the first book was a cliff hanger and the cover of the second book was too enticing to postpone. The structure of the series is unique in that it is in reverse chronological order. In this book, we learn more about investigator Hulda’s past and follow her as she investigates a murder that takes place on the island pictured on the cover. If you’re fascinated by Iceland’s geography, this book is for you. You are immersed in the setting.

The Mist (Hidden Iceland/Hulda Series, #3) by Ragnar Jónasson
(Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb)
(Narrated by Angela Redman)

I just decided to binge read/listen to this trilogy while I was at it, and I have no regrets. Iceland’s geography continues to play a significant role in the story, and I am fascinated by it. I will keep Ragnar Jónasson on my list of authors to return to, but I will take a break from his crime fiction for the time being. There are other Icelandic crime authors I’d also like to read. I’d like to return to Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s Children’s House series and try Eva Bjorg Ægisdóttir’s The Creak on the Stairs (Forbidden Iceland Book 1).

Because Venus Crossed an Alpine Violet on the Day that I Was Born by Mona Høvring (Translated from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson and Rachel Rankin)

I was drawn to the cover (stunning fjord) and title (so odd and unique) of this one. However, when I started reading, there was a disconnect because I had thought the setting would be spring or summer time in a mountain village. Instead it was winter, and every time there was a reference to snow and cold, I was thrown a little. Minor detail in the grand scheme of things, but still an issue for me. It’s a short novel about two sisters in their early twenties who go to a mountain hotel to reconnect. Growing up they had been very close but then the older one abruptly left home to marry and ended up at a sanatorium after a nervous breakdown. This is their opportunity to find the relationship they had when they were young, but circumstances arise making it hard. It had a dreamlike quality and the writing/translation was lovely. A very enjoyable book! (But the title is still a mystery to me.)

#SlothyWorldReads2022: Book from the country you’re from (Norway)

Our Own Little Paradise by Marianne Kaurin (Middle Grade)
(Translated from the Norwegian by Olivia Lasky)

I came across this Norwegian middle grade book in translation at Netgalley and couldn’t resist since I was familiar with the author, was drawn to the cover, and liked the premise. On the last day of 6th grade when Nora’s classmates share all sorts of foreign vacation plans for the summer, Nora ends up lying about an upcoming trip to the tropics. However, she is outed by a new boy in class who lives in her apartment complex. The summer spirals into much more than she ever expected in so many ways. It was a very enjoyable and heartwarming book about a 12-year-old’s desire to fit in and make friends with the added difficulty and pressure of social media and socio-economic differences, and there were many examples of Norwegian culture present, my favorite being the summertime shrimp.

Thanks to Netgalley and Arctis Books for an advance copy of this! It will be released on April 12, 2022.

Dálvi: Six Years in the Arctic Tundra by Laura Galloway
(Narrated by Laura Lefkow)

I’m not usually drawn to memoirs, but the cover and premise of this one intrigued me. A woman from Indiana finds she shares some DNA with the Sámi people, the indigenous people of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and plans a trip to visit the area. This first visit eventually leads to a 6-years-long stay there. The memoir is an absorbing account of her time in Sápmi interspersed with reflections on her childhood and early adult life in the US. It provides a fascinating, unique look at the modern culture of the Sámi and their relationship with outsiders. I was captivated by this book. Going to the Scandinavian Arctic is now even higher on my bucket list.

Book Voyage: Read Around the World Reading Challenge: Arctic & Antarctic

What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at a great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a short period. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone.

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

February 2022: Virtual Nordic Events & Sámi National Day

While Nordic organizations around the country are transitioning to more and more in-person events, there are still many virtual ones to enjoy!

February is a month to bring awareness to the only indigenous group of Europe, the Sámi. Saturday, February 6, is Sámi National Day celebrated by the indigenous peoples of Sápmi, an area consisting of land in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. The first Sámi National Day was celebrated in 1993. It commemorates the first Sámi congress which was held February 6, 1917, in Trondheim, Norway, when Sámi from Norway and Sweden met to discuss common issues. Sámi National Day didn’t become an official flag day in Norway until 2003.  (If you’re interested in more information on the history and culture of the Sámi, visit Life in Norway’s “The Sami People”.)

Marking the day has become increasingly popular with celebrations and programs not just taking place domestically in those countries but also abroad. In the virtual community this month, there are many online events – celebrations, a movie screening, book events, craft workshops, presentations, and more. Look for events marked with ❤️💙💛💚. Happening now in Tromsø, Norway, is Sámi Week (January 31-February 6). Highlights usually include an Arctic Market, the Norwegian Championship in Lasso Throwing, and the Norwegian Championship in Reindeer Racing, but unfortunately they are canceled this year due to national restrictions. View pictures from previous years here.

And finally I share an in-person event for readers in the Los Angeles and New York City areas. Today the Norwegian Oscar submission for Best International Feature, The Worst Person in the World, opens in limited release in theaters in Los Angeles and New York. Los Angeles Times critic Justin Chang calls it “a funny, melancholy dazzler from Norwegian writer-director Joachim Trier… [a] charming, wistful, ineffably tender movie… It’s time well spent.” Will you see it, or have you already?

Which events look intriguing to you this month?

Book Talk: River Kings with Dr. Cat Jarman (Friday, February 4, 6:00 p.m. ET, Free)

Join Scandinavia House in New York, NY, for a virtual literary talk with bioarchaeologist Dr. Cat Jarman to celebrate the release of her new book River Kings: A New History of the Vikings from Scandinavia to the Silk Roads out on February 1, 2022, from Pegasus Books. Learn about an epic story from the Viking Age that traces the historical path of an ancient piece of jewelry—found in a Viking grave in England—to its likely origin thousands of miles east in India. Update: The virtual talk is available now for streaming.

Sámi álbmotbeaivi – Samenes nasjonaldag (Sunday, February 6)❤️💙💛💚

Norway’s national TV station NRK celebrates Sámi National Day with celebrations from all of Sápmi. This recorded program is in Norwegian and Sámi, but you’ll still enjoy the unique joik music, traditional Sámi dress and jewelry, and impressive landscapes. View the program now.

Exploring Arctic Highways – Celebrating Sámi National Day (Sunday, February 6, 3:00 p.m. PT) ❤️💙💛💚

Join a Facebook Live virtual celebration of Sámi National Day. During the celebration, enjoy some of the Sami National Day celebrations taking place outside of City Hall in the Swedish capital of Stockholm, learn more about Sámi National Day, and enjoy a performance by Sámi artist Sara Ajnnak. The celebration will also include an introduction to the new exhibition Arctic Highways, which is currently on its way over the Atlantic to make its world debut at House of Sweden, Washington, DC, next month before continuing to tour North America and Europe.

Nordic Book Club: The Book of Reykjavik (Tuesday, February 8, 6:00 p.m. ET, Free)

This month, Scandinavia House’s Nordic Book Club will be discussing The Book of Reykjavik: A City in Short Fiction, an anthology edited by Becca Parkinson & Vera Juliusdottir, which was recently discussed by authors and translators in a virtual panel.

Nordic Book Club: The Nordic Theory of Everything (Tuesday, February 8, 6:00-7:00 p.m. CT)

Join Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center in Rock Island, Illinois, to discuss The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by Finnish author Anu Partanen.

Movie Screening: Älven min vän (Thursday, February 10, 12:00-1:00 p.m. CT, Free)❤️💙💛💚

Älven min Vän (The River, My Friend) is a portrait of the lives of four Sámi women and their relationship to the Lule River in Sweden. The film shows the consequences of the forced resettlement of Sámi people who were displaced from their land because of the construction of river dams and were alienated from their indigenous culture and way of life (such as reindeer husbandry, clothing, language, food and music). At the same time, the film shows the deep relationship between the women and the river. Register for this free event and receive a link to the movie. Then join the Zoom event to meet the director Hannah Ambühl.

Nordic Spirits Second Friday: Are You What You Wear? (Friday, February 11, 7:30 p.m. PT, Free) ❤️💙💛💚

The Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation in Thousand Oaks, California, invites you to a virtual presentation presented by Prof. Thomas DuBois of University of Wisconsin-Madison to learn about Sámi traditional dress. There are clear norms about how Sámi dress in different regions of Sápmi – the areas of Norway, Finland, and Sweden where Sámi people traditionally reside. But the actual components of the dress vary and they are often made at home by family members rather than purchased from a professional seamstress. This presentation will explore the ways the Sámi use dress to express their identity and the many variations and expressive choices that come into play. Particiaption is free. Registration is required.

Fika på svenska! Swedish Language Table (Saturday, February 12, 10:00-11:00 a.m. CT, Free)

Vill du ha mer svenska i ditt liv? Häng med på Fika på svenska! Vi träffas virtuellt på den andra lördagen varje månad och diskutera ämnen kring det svenska språket, svensk kultur, historia och mer. Kom och prata svenska med oss! Fika på svenska is a conversation table held entirely in Swedish every second Saturday each month. New topics each month explore Swedish language, culture, history and connection to Minnesota.

Norwegian Family Language Adventure: Explorers (Register by February 15)

Join Vesterheim in March for some family fun and learn some Norwegian language along the way! 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 snack. The adventure starts on March 1 and will focus on Oppdagelsesreisende, the Norwegian word for explorers! Register by February 15.

Duodji Reader: Virtual Book Talk (Tuesday, February 15, 10:00-11:00 a.m. PT, Free)

American Scandinavian Foundation invites you to a virtual panel on Duodji Reader: A Selection of Twelve Essays on Duodji by Sámi Duojárat and Writers from the Past 60 Years, produced by Sámi Allaskuvla / Sámi University of Applied Sciences and Norwegian Crafts. Edited by Gunvor Guttorm and Harald Gaski, Duodji Reader explores the Sámi duodji, the artistic crafts form of the Indigenous people of the European Arctic, through essays written by 11 prominent Sámi scholars, duojárat, and writers from North, South, and Lule Sámi areas. Duodji demonstrates a holistic circle of creation, how nature and humans collaborate in recognising, visualising, and shaping items that serve the need for both practical use and aesthetic form.

National Danish Book Club: The Liar (Tuesday, February 15, 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 The Liar (Løgneren) by Martin A. Hansen. The Book Club group discussion will take place Tuesday, February 15, 5:00 p.m. PT. The accompanying Literary Event is unscheduled at this time.

Vesterheim Bokprat: Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (Wednesday, February 16, 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 at Vesterheim, discussing Scandinavian authors and Scandinavian life. Henrik Ibsen remains the second most often played playwright in the world behind William Shakespeare. Join Vesterheim this month for a conversation about the play A Doll’s House, significant at the time for the way it addressed the fate of a married woman living in a male-dominated culture.

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. This class is sold out but you can be added to the waitlist.

The Nordic Heart Bokklubb Book Club: Unto a Good Land by Vilhelm Moberg (Saturday, February 19, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CT, Free)

Join The Nordic Heart‘s book club to discuss the first half of book 2 in The Emigrant Novels series by Vilhelm Moberg, Unto a Good Land. Book 2 opens in the summer of 1850 as the emigrants disembark in New York City. Their journey to a new home in Minnesota Territory takes them by riverboat, steam wagon, Great Lakes steamship, and oxcart to Chicago County.  Considered one of Sweden’s greatest 20th century writers, Vilhelm Moberg created Karl Oskar and Kristina Nilsson to portray the joys and tragedies of daily life for early Swedish pioneers in America. His consistently faithful depiction of these humble people’s lives is a major strength of The Emigrant Novels.

Knife Skills in the Nordic Kitchen with Kristi Bissell (Saturday, February 19, 1:00-3:00 p.m. and 5:00-7:00 p.m. CT)

In these online classes 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. These classes are sold out but you can be added to the waitlist.

The History of Norwegian Sweaters (Saturday, February 19, 7:00 p.m. ET, Free)

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 meeting of the Washington D.C. Sons of Norway Lodge. Visitors wishing to attend should contact Bill Deroche at programs@norwayDC.org for a Zoom link .

In Trunks, Hands, and Hearts: What Norwegian Immigrants Brought to the United States (Tuesday, February 22, 2:00 p.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim Chief Curator Laurann Gilbertson to explore the immigrant experience through stories associated with artifacts in Vesterheim’s collection. Between 1825 and 1980, nearly one million Norwegians left for new lives in America. She’ll discuss the reasons for leaving, what they brought, and where they settled. This is an open meeting of the Denver Iowa Public Library. Visitors wishing to attend may contact Kelly Platte at kplatte@denver.lib.ia.us for a Zoom link.

Lapskaus Soup: From our Kitchen to Yours (Wednesday, February 23, 6:30-7:30 p.m. PT)

This online demonstration hosted by Nordic Northwest in Portland, OR, will warm your heart. It’s the perfect time for the wintery and hearty Norwegian meat and potatoes soup “Lapskaus”. Learn how to make this traditional recipe, along with options to suit your particular taste buds. This demonstration features Broder Söder’s chef along with Nordic Northwest’s Cook & Eat committee. Whether you have made this recipe for years or are brand new to it — you won’t want to miss the opportunity. You will appreciate an “ancient classic” that is still relevant and practical today.

Nordiska’s Book Club: Black Fox (Thursday, February 24, 6:00 p.m. PT) ❤️💙💛💚

For the month of February, Nordiska will be celebrating Sámi National Day (February 6) by reading Barbara Sjoholm’s book Black Fox: A Life of Emilie Demant Hatt, Artist and Ethnographer. Though she was not Sámi herself, Emilie Demant Hatt became closely acquainted with a variety of Sámi cultures during her travels in Sápmi, the Sámi’s traditional territory, in the early 1900s. Emilie Demant Hatt lived an extraordinary life which has been retold by Barbara Sjoholm in this first English-language biography.

Nordic Lights Film Festival (February 25 – March 5)

The Nordic Lights Film Festival is devoted to celebrating Nordic cinema—this year, once again, virtually. All films are available to watch during the run of the festival. You may choose your own viewing schedule but once you start a film, you will have 72 hours to finish it. Full schedule and individual tickets will be available in early February. Some of the feature films have been geo-blocked by their production companies and will only be viewable in Washington State.

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

This online class meets in two sessions, first from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and then 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.

Vesterheim’s Primstav Murals (Friday, February 25, 8:00 p.m. CT, Free)

The murals in Vesterheim’s Gathering Room were created in 1999 by Norwegian rosemaler Sigmund Aarseth and Iowa rosemaler Sallie DeReus. The murals are an example of interior painting, relatively common in Scandinavia, in which every surface is decorated. The murals are inspired by the primstav, a calendar stick widely used in Norway during the Middle Ages. The initial purpose of the primstav was to help keep track of Saint’s days and the church year when Christianity was adopted in the eleventh century. Over time, however, the primstav acquired worldly calendar associations that had to do with seasonal agricultural and domestic activities. Vesterheim’s Martha Griesheimer will give this online presentation in an open meeting of the Boulder Sons of Norway group. Everyone is welcome! Visitors wishing to attend may contact Erik Sirnes for a Zoom link: eriksirnes@hotmail.com.

Book Club: Antiphony (February 26, 1:00-2:00 p.m. CT, Free) ❤️💙💛💚

The Swedish American Museum in Chicago, Illinois, hosts a book club that reads a wide range of books from the Nordic countries. The February read is Antiphony by Laila Stien translated from the Norwegian by John Weinstock, a novel about a woman who goes to Northern Norway and becomes acquainted with three generations of Sámi women.

Fastelavn Buns – Scandinavian Baking Workshop (Saturday, February 26, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. PT)

It is that time of year again to celebrate the Danish tradition of Fastelavn! Native Dane and baker extraordinaire Leda Jessen is ready to bake the traditional yummy Fastelavn buns together with you. You will be sent a list of the ingredients needed prior to the event, and together with Leda you will bake the day away.

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). This class is sold out but you can be added to the waitlist.

Nordic Book Club: Psalm at Journey’s End (Sunday, February 27, 4:00 p.m. PT)

Join Scandinavian School in San Francisco for a discussion about the book Psalm at Journey’s End by Norwegian author Erik Fosnes Hansen.

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 but you can join the waiting list.

Looking ahead…

Want to plan your reading for next month? Here’s a look ahead at virtual book events in March.

And finally, Vesterheim Folk Art School registration for April through June 2022 opens on Thursday, February 10, at noon (CT) with new online and in-person classes in rosemaling, woodworking, metalworking, jewelry, cooking, fiber arts, weaving, and heritage and language, plus special youth and family programming. They can’t wait for you to see what’s in store, so they’re sharing the class schedule now so you can start making your February 10 registration plans.

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.

Virtual Nordic Events for February 2021: Sámi National Day & Nordic Film plus more!

A new month means new opportunities to attend virtual Nordic events on topics of all kinds. There are films, crafts, books and authors, cooking and baking along with family language and art opportunities.

This is also a month to bring awareness to the only  indigenous group of Europe, the Sámi. Saturday, February 6, is Sámi National Day celebrated by the indigenous peoples of Sápmi, an area consisting of land in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. The first Sámi National Day was celebrated in 1993. It commemorates the first Sámi congress which was held February 6, 1917, in Trondheim, Norway, when Sámi from Norway and Sweden met to discuss common issues. Sámi National Day didn’t become an official flag day in Norway until 2003. Celebrating the day has become increasingly popular with celebrations and programs not just taking place domestically in those countries but also abroad. (If you’re interested in more information on the history and culture of the Sámi, visit Life in Norway’s “The Sami People”.)

February is the month for virtual film events! Three film events featuring Nordic films will take place over the next few weeks.

Nordic Women in Film is a free, 5-part event series presented by the five Nordic embassies in the US. (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), Women in Film and Television International, and Women in Film & Video Washington, DC. Weekly film screenings will be accompanied by Q&As and special conversations relating to the week’s film and theme.

  • February 2-3: “Boundless Art, Boundless Success” featuring Finland’s Tove
  • February 9-11: “Inconvenient & Outrageous Women” featuring Denmark’s Queen of Hearts
  • February 16-18: “Personal Stories & Big Budgets” featuring Norway’s Hope
  • February 23-25: “The Gaze” featuring Sweden’s Lucky One
  • March 2-4: “Bordering & Boundaries” featuring Iceland’s And Breathe Normally

South Social Cineclub’s Travel the World features films from Norway, Denmark, and Iceland. All screenings are at 7:00 p.m. UK time (11:00 a.m. PST, 2:00 p.m. EST) and you can watch the films as part of their exclusive BFI Player extended free trial offer.

  • Thursday, February 11: The Painter and the Thief by Benjamin Ree (Norway)
  • Wednesday, February 17: The Hunt by Thomas Vinterberg (Denmark)
  • Tuesday, February 23: Rams by Grímur Hákonarson (Iceland)
  • Wednesday, March 17: Festen by Thomas Vinterberg (Denmark)
  • Tuesday, March 23: Under the tree by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson (Iceland)
  • Tuesday, April 27: A white white day by Hlynur Pálmason (Iceland)

Scandinavia House’s New Nordic Cinema celebrates contemporary Nordic filmmaking by showcasing some of the best new contemporary feature films and documentaries in weeklong sessions.

  • Week 1, February 12-18: The Deposit /Tryggð (Iceland, 2019; dir. Ásthildur Kjartansdóttir) and Gods of Molenbeek /Aatos ja amine (Finland, 2019; dir. Reetta Huhtanen)
  • Week 2, February 19-25: Phoenix /Føniks (Norway, 2018; dir. Camilla Strøm Henriksen) and Transnistra (Sweden, 2019; dir. Anna Eborn)
  • Week 3, February 26-March 4: Maria’s Paradise /Marian paratiisi (Finland, 2019; dir. Zaida Bergroth) and The Reformist — A Female Imam /Reformisten (Denmark, 2019; dir. Marie Skovgard)

What events interest you?

Nordic Women in Film – Finland: Boundless Art, Boundless Success (Wednesday, February 2, 8:00 p.m. – Thursday, February 3, 8:00 p.m. EST)

In the first week of Nordic Women in Film, watch the Finnish Oscar-nominee Tove (director Zaida Bergroth, 2020) about Moomin-creator Tove Jansson. “In the midst of her artistic struggles and unconventional personal life, Tove Jansson found worldwide success from an unexpected side project: the creation of the beloved world of the Moomins. TOVE is a captivating drama about the creative energy of an iconic talent and her turbulent search for identity, desire, and freedom.” (Film only available to viewers in the US.) Q&A and panel discussion will explore the question “What does it mean to live and create freely? What lies behind artistic ambition and who is to judge the worth of one’s work?”

  • Online Q&A on Tove with director Zaida Bergroth, actress Alma Pöysti, producer Andrea Reuter and screenwriter Eeva Putro: Wednesday, February 3, at 3-3:30pm EST
  • Online Special Conversation on Boundless Art, Boundless Success. Speakers: Zaida Bergroth (FIN), Isabella Eklöf (SWE), Terry Pheto (ZAF/US), Pamela Green (US). Wednesday, February 3, at 3:30-4:30pm EST

Virtual Nordic Stories (for Kids): Children of the Northlights (Thursday, February 4, 10:00 – 10:30 a.m. PST)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for story time and craft with their special guest, librarian Sara Jensen. Listen to the story Children of the Northlights by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire. Inspired directly by a remarkable journey the d’Aulaires took to northern Europe and their time spent among the Sámi, Children of the Northlights is a brightly illustrated portrait and celebration of the Sámi people, culture, and snow-covered landscapes of the frozen north, from two of the twentieth century’s greatest storytellers. After the story, Sara will teach kids how to make a craft with items found at home.

Thursday Night Soup: Swedish Ärtsoppa (Thursday, February 4, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. CT)

Most Americans probably aren’t familiar with Sweden’s Thursday night soup tradition of ärtsoppa (yellow pea soup). It might be safe to say that many young modern Swedes are not as familiar with ärtsoppa as the generations that came before them, and the national dish has fallen out of fashion in more recent years. While pea soup has been around for many centuries, the ärtsoppa tradition dates back to the time when Catholic rule came to Sweden and meat was forbidden on Fridays, thus a meat-fast began Thursday nights. The soup is said to have been used to assassinate King Erik XIV who consumed a bowl laced with arsenic in the late 1500s. In class, you will make this traditional classic. Sign up for this small-group event to be able to interact with food historian Patrice Johnson as she cooks.

Bieggolmmái: Sámi National Day (Friday, February 5, 9:30 a.m. PST)

Join The British Museum in London for a celebration of Sámi culture on February 5, ahead of Sámi National Day on February 6. In this event, they ask how Sámi way of life can remain strong and resilient in the face of climate change, land encroachments and other challenges, while remaining hopeful for the future. Leading the discussion about this unique culture are Anne May Olli, Director of Norway’s RiddoDuottarMuseat; Liisa Holmberg from the Sámi Film Institute; Ingá-Máret Gaup Juuso, a Sámi Yoik artist; and Chair Pirita Näkkäläjärvi, an elected member of the Sámi Parliament in Finland. You can also view this event on YouTube any time after it is streamed.

Nordic Spirit Symposium: Nordic Spirit Classics (Friday, February 5, & Saturday, February 6)

This year Scandinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation’s annual Nordic Spirit Symposium will be virtual. It will bring you some of the best presentations from the early Nordic Spirit years, including Dr. Richard Hall’s “Vikings in England”, Dr. Steven Koblik’s “Scandinavia During WWII”, and Prof. H. Arnold Barton’s “Scandinavian Immigrants to America”. Participation is free. For schedule details and access information, visit Nordic Spirit Symposium: Nordic Spirit Classics.

Sámi Anthem Sing-Along (Saturday, February 6, 9:30 a.m. PST)

Join Sámi Cultural Center of North American for a virtual Sámi Anthem Sing-Along to celebrate Sámi National Day. Start your celebration with a brief slideshow and performance of Sámi Sova Lavlla by musician Martin (Baehr) Dodd. English lyrics will be provided. Listen, lip-synch, or sing along from home. Request the Zoom link by emailing samicenterna@gmail.com.

Virtual Book Talk—Sámi Media and Indigenous Agency in the Arctic North (Saturday, February 6, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. PST)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, on February 6 for a Sámi National Day book talk with authors Tom DuBois and Coppélie Cocq. “In Sámi Media and Indigenous Agency in the Arctic North authors Tom DuBois and Coppélie Cocq examine how Sámi people of Norway, Finland, and Sweden use media to advance a social, cultural, and political agenda anchored in notions of cultural continuity and self-determination.” Event is free but you must RSVP to receive the Zoom link.

Online Nordic Book Club: The Women I Think About at Night (Tuesday, February 9, 6:00 p.m. ET)

The Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, selects novels from some of the best Nordic literary voices. At this meeting, they’ll be discussing the book The Women I Think About at Night by Mia Kankimäki, who joined Scandinavia House last month for a book talk on the novel with moderator Heli Sirviö (available to stream here). Visit the event page for more information and to register.

Nordic Women in Film – Denmark: Inconvenient & Outrageous Women (Tuesday, February 9, 5:00 p.m. – Thursday, February 11, 5:00 p.m. PST)

In the second week of Nordic Women in Film, watch the Danish movie Queen of Hearts (director May El-Toukhy, 2019). “A woman jeopardizes both her career and her family when she seduces her teenage stepson and is forced to make an irreversible decision with fatal consequences.” (Film only available to viewers in the US and Canada.) Q&A and panel discussion will explore question “How are women portrayed in unexpected ways in films, and what happens when women are “inconvenient” and outrageous? Why is it so important to be seen on screen?”

  • Online Q&A on Queen of Hearts with director May El-Toukhy and lead actress Trine Dyrholm: Wednesday, February 10, at 3-3:30pm EST
  • Online Special Conversation on Inconvenient & Outrageous Women. Speakers: Trine Dyrholm (DK), Sofie Helin (SWE), Elina Knihtilä (FIN). Wednesday, February 10, at 3:30-4:30pm EST

Koselig Cocktails with Vesterheim (Thursday, February 11, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. CT)

An important part of Nordic culture is the willingness to embrace the cold, dark winter. In this class, you will focus on hot beverages and the power they have to get us feeling koselig, or cozy. You’ll learn some new recipes while also developing the skills to create your own unique hot toddy. Take your warm cocktail outside and embrace the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv, or getting outdoors. Skål! Cost includes the price of the kit, some spices, and an ingredient list you will need to source materials for your class. Registration deadline is February 1.

Virtual Book Talk: Meet the Author w/ Kristín Eiríksdóttir (Saturday, February 13, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. PST)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for the next talk in their popular series Meet the Author. On February 13, Icelandic author Kristín Eiríksdóttir will discuss her book A Fist or a Heart (Elín, ýmislegt). The talk is in conversation with translator Larissa Kyzer and moderated by Dr. Elizabeth DeNoma.

Fastelavn Buns – Scandinavian Baking Workshop (Saturday, February 13, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. PST)

The Scandinavian School in San Francisco, CA, invites you to join native Dane and baker extraordinaire Leda Jessen for a Scandinavian baking event for Fastelavn, a family celebration in Denmark. Learn how to make Fastelavn buns, a round sweet roll usually covered with icing and filled with cream. You will be sent a list of the ingredients needed prior to the event, and together with Leda you will bake the day away.

Virtual Nordic Table Demo: Swedish Semlor (Saturday, February 13, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. CT)

Learn how to bake a wintery Swedish treat, the semla, or Fat Tuesday bun. Semlor are cardamom-infused, almond paste-filled, and whipped cream-topped treats originally indulged only on Fat Tuesday, before the Lenten fast until Easter. These days, Swedes eat semlor in many forms, from New Years until Easter. In this one-hour class, Erin Swenson-Klatt will share a recipe that even novice bakers can tackle at home, along with lots of baking tips and some history and cultural context for these classic baked goods. After watching this one-hour demo, students will be prepared to tackle semlor on their own at home, any time.

Winter Wonderland Snow Art Workshop (Premiered February 13)

As the snow starts falling and creates a winter wonderland outside, take advantage of the weather by making your own snow and ice art! Snow is an excellent medium for all kinds of art-making, including three-dimensional snow murals and molded snow sculptures. You can also freeze colored water with natural objects to create your own snowy fort, similar to a community art installation now up in Ruovesi Finland!

Virtual Book Talk: The Memory Theater (Tuesday, February 16, 2:00 p.m. ET)

On February 16, Swedish author Karin Tidbeck (of Amatka and Jagannath) joins Scandinavia House for a book talk on her latest novel The Memory Theater, available beginning today from Pantheon Books. With moderator Sara Lefkowitz, she’ll discuss her new novel, a fantastical tour de force about friendship, interdimensional theater, and a magical place where no one ages — except the young.

Nordic Women in Film – Norway: Personal Stories & Big Budgets (Tuesday, February 16, 5:00 p.m. – Thursday, February 18, 5:00 p.m. PST)

In the third week of Nordic Women in Film, watch the Norwegian movie Hope (director Maria Sødahl, 2019). “What happens with love when a woman in the middle of her life gets three months left to live?” Q&A and panel discussion will take place Wednesday, February 17, 3:00-4:30 p.m. EST exploring the question “Movies about personal stories tend to receive less attention and smaller budgets than films about broader topics. Why is that and what makes the personal political?” Registration opens February 1.

Vesterheim Collection Connections: Hardanger Fiddles (Tuesday, February 16, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim Gold Medalist Karen Rebholz and Vesterheim Collections Manager Jennifer Kovarik as they discuss Hardanger fiddles, the national instrument of Norway. Harkening back to its inception in the Baroque period, the Hardanger fiddle is richly ornamented with shell, bone, and ink and is played with asymmetric rhythms, multiple tunings, and non standard tones. The Hardanger fiddle has four or five sympathetic strings that resonate with the four bowed strings producing an ethereal sound. The traditional music has been preserved by means of an unbroken aural chain. Using examples from Vesterheim’s collection and Karen’s own collection, they will show how each fiddle is a work of art with unique form, decoration, and sound.

Virtual Nordic Table Demo: Swedish Pea Soup and Pancakes (Wednesday, February 17, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. CT)

Looking for some tips and tricks to make Swedish pea soup a part of your winter repertoire? Patrice Johnson will walk you through a traditional örtsoppa recipe along with its classic accompaniment, Swedish pancakes. These recipes are both simple and satisfying, and their history as a traditional Thursday dinner in Sweden are fascinating, so Patrice will cover history as well as cooking tips.

Radical Nationalism and the Politics of Nostalgia — Virtual Panel (Thursday, February 18, 10:00 a.m. PST)

Join American Scandinavian Foundation for a virtual round-table discussion on “Radical Nationalism and the Politics of Nostalgia,” which will touch upon topics such as Nordic and U.S. right-wing extremism, populism, white melancholy, and the normalcy of whiteness. The event will take place as a Zoom webinar. For more information on panelists and to register, visit here.

March Family Norwegian Language Adventure: Vikings and Mythology! (Deadline to Join: February 18)

Join Vesterheim in March for some family fun and learn some Norwegian language along the way! The March adventure will focus on Vikings and mythology. 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. Gather your family to share in the fun as you gain a new understanding of the Norwegian language and Norwegian culture. Enrollment deadline is February 18.

Family Handcraft at Home: Try Rosemaling! (Deadline to Join: February 22)

Rosemaling or rose painting is a decorative painting technique characterized by scrolls, leaves, and flowers and has been traditionally applied to woodenware. Several distinctive styles developed throughout Norway. Vesterheim invites you to try your hand at this historical handcraft. Your registration provides you with a kit that includes everything you need to do the family handcraft at home. You can watch the video and open your kit materials to explore rosemaling whenever it is most convenient to you and your family members. Enrollment deadline is February 22.

Launch Celebration: Smoke Screen by Enger & Horst (Tuesday, February 23, 7:00 p.m. UK)

To celebrate the launch of the paperback edition of their latest Nordic Noir thriller Smoke Screen, Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst will be in conversation with top crime fiction reviewer Abby @crimebythebook. This is the second installment in the Alexander Blix and Emma Ramm series. “When the mother of a missing two-year-old girl is seriously injured in a suspected terrorist attack in Oslo, crime-fighting duo Blix and Ramm join forces to investigate the case, and things aren’t adding up…” Email cole@orendabooks.co.uk if interested in attending.

Vesterheim Bokprat (Book Group): Pakkis (Tuesday, February 23, 7:00 p.m. CT)

Dr. Maren Johnson, Luther College’s Associate Professor of Nordic Studies and Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies Director, facilitates a monthly bokprat discussing Scandinavian authors and Scandinavian life. Join her in February to discuss Pakkis by Khalid Hussain. Drawing from his own personal experiences as a Pakistani immigrant to Norway in the 1970s, Hussain discusses the challenges of Sajjad, a teenager in Oslo, as he tries to negotiate his identities as Pakistani and as a new immigrant to Norway. This coming-of-age story illuminates the struggles and challenges of negotiating race and integration in Norway.

Nordic Women in Film – Sweden: The Gaze (Tuesday, February 23, 5:00 p.m. – Thursday, February 25, 5:00 p.m. PST)

In the fourth week of Nordic Women in Film, watch the Swedish movie Lucky One (director Mia Engberg, 2019). “Ageing gangster Vincent works long nights and dreams of another life. When he is unexpectedly given responsibility for his teenage daughter Grace, his life starts to change.” Q&A and panel discussion will take place Wednesday, February 24, 3:00-4:30 p.m. EST exploring the question “What happens with the world when young women define their own reality instead of being defined by others?” Registration opens February 8.

Virtual Book Talk: A Silenced Voice: The Life of Journalist Kim Wall (Thursday, February 25, 10:00 a.m. PT)

Join Scandinavia House for a book talk with Ingrid and Joachim Wall on the book A Silenced Voice: The Life of Journalist Kim Wall, their moving memoir of an inexplicable crime, a family’s loss, and a legacy preserved, out now in translation by Kathy Saranpa from Amazon Crossing. “Kim Wall was a thirty-year-old Swedish freelance journalist with a rising career. Then, in the summer of 2017, she followed a story that led to an eccentric inventor in Copenhagen. Instead of writing the next day’s headline, she’d become one.” The event will take place as a Zoom webinar. For more information and to register, visit here.

Virtual Crafts & Cocktails (Thursday, February 25, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. PST)

Recharge from your day with an evening of creativity and fun with National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA. Get a mini virtual tour from one of their docents, learn a cocktail recipe, and make a craft using supplies you might have around the house. This month’s craft is handmade polaroids! Materials needed for this craft are paper, pen or pencil, watercolors/markers/collage materials, and scissors.

Nordiska’s Book Club — By the Fire: Sami Folktales and Legends (Thursday, February 25, 6:30 p.m. PT)

To broaden readers’ Nordic reading repertoire and to engage with fellow bookworms, Nordiska, a Nordic gifts and goods store in Poulsbo, WA, has created Nordiska Book Club. Each month they will select a title from their library and then host a virtual club meeting via Zoom to discuss the book. This month, they will be discussing By the Fire: Sami Folktales and Legends collected and illustrated by Emilie Demant Hatt (first published in Danish in 1922) and translated by Barbara Sjoholm (2019). The translator will be a part of the meeting to discuss her work on the book. For more information and to register, click here.

ASI’s Virtual Midwinter Folk Festival (February 27 & 28)

This joyous annual celebration of folk music, dance and songs brings together some of the foremost artists and practitioners from Sweden, locally and nationally to share the Scandinavian skills and traditions in a weekend of virtual workshops and a culminating concert. For programming and ticket information, visit the event page.

Nordic Women in Film – Iceland: Borders & Boundaries (Tuesday, March 2, 5:00 p.m. – Thursday, March 4, 5:00 p.m. PST)

In the final week of Nordic Women in Film, watch the Icelandic movie And Breathe Normally (director Ísold Uggadóttir, 2018). “Two women’s lives will intersect while trapped in circumstances unforeseen. Between a struggling Icelandic mother and an asylum seeker from Guinea-Bissau, a delicate bond will form as both strategize to get their lives back on track.” Q&A and panel discussion will take place Wednesday, March 3, 3:00-4:30 p.m. EST exploring the question “How do filmmakers influence physical, geographical, and emotional boundaries?” Registration opens February 15.

Which February 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.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (October & November 2020) & #ScandiReadingChallenge Update

October was a slow reading month so I saved my two reads from that month to share this month. It’s been a very varied period of reading and listening: two children’s books about the Sámi Indigenous peoples of Northern Europe, an LA-based contemporary novel, two historical fiction both coincidentally about a village woman and a man of faith not from the community (luckily different settings, one England in the mid-1600s and the other Norway in 1880), and finally a contemporary crime fiction set in Oslo.

I still have a couple of categories on my Scandinavian Reading Challenge to cross off. Currently, I’m reading a Scandinavian classic, Sigrid Undset’s third book in the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy. Still to read are a book by or about refugees to Scandinavia (planning Sara Omar’s Skyggedanseren translated from the Danish to the Norwegian) and a Scandinavian book with a film or TV adaptation (haven’t decided yet). Would love to hear about any Scandinavian/Nordic books you’ve read!

What have you been reading lately?

Samer by Sigbjørn Skåden, Illustrated by Ketil Selnes

This is a Norwegian children’s book for ages 9-12 that I discovered when researching Sámi culture and history for a special event I was helping plan at the elementary school where I work. (Special thanks to my mother who helped make it possible for me to read it here in the US!) It’s written by a Sámi author and is even available in the Sámi language. My knowledge of Sámi history was very limited. Reading this book was enlightening and provided a good basis on Sámi history and issues. However, I still have much to learn. Too bad it’s not available in English as it would be a good introduction to Sámi culture and history for English language readers.

Reading Challenges:

Children of the Northlights by Ingri & Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

This was another book I added to my reading list for my school project. It has been on my bookshelf for a long time and was a delight to finally read. First published in 1935, it was written after extensive visits by the authors to the land of the Sámi in the early 1930s. Interestingly, this newer edition published in 2012 includes a note in the beginning noting the authors’ use of the term “Lapp” which is now considered derogatory. The story follows Sámi siblings Lise and Lasse as they go about their daily lives during winter time. I especially enjoyed reading about their relationship with their reindeer and seeing all the pictures featuring Sámi daily life during winter. I question whether Sámi children’s school experience was as pleasant as depicted in the story since the book covers a time period when Sámi were forced to become and learn Norwegian (per an official Norwegianization policy).

Reading Challenges:

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim
(Narrated by Greta Jung)

I was drawn to this book because it was a contemporary immigrant story that takes place in Los Angeles with a family mystery to boot. It’s about Margot who returns to her childhood home in Koreatown only to discover that her mother, Mina Lee, is dead in the apartment. In the process of trying to find out the true cause of death, Margot learns about her mother’s difficult past. There’s a dual timeline: Margot in 2014 when she discovers her dead mother and 1987 when her mother arrived in Los Angeles as an undocumented immigrant from Korea. I started this book as an audiobook but switched to ebook. I felt the narrator did not do justice to the characters. I enjoyed Margot’s and Mina Lee’s stories, and I got a kick out of the setting being here in Los Angeles where the characters visited familiar places, in particular Santa Monica Pier in both timelines, but the narrator’s rendition of the characters grated on me. Finishing the book by reading it made a big difference. I recommend this book but suggest you read it instead of listening to it.

Reading Challenges:

Tidelands (The Fairmile Series, #1) by Philippa Gregory
(Narrated by Louise Brealey)

This was a book club pick that I wasn’t overly thrilled to read. I love historical fiction, but England in the 1600s didn’t really interest me as much as other times and places, or at least so I thought. It turned out I loved this book. It was not about royalty as I had assumed it would be. Rather, it was about an ordinary person, Alinor, a poor woman whose husband had left her and their two kids to fend for themselves in a remote village. The story takes places during England’s Civil War in 1648, and religious and political history (Royalists vs. Parliamentarians and Catholicism vs. Protestantism) play a role but not in a way that requires any background knowledge. I got so wrapped up in Alinor’s life and the hardship and judging she had to endure. I admired her strength, perseverance, and independence. The whole book club group enjoyed this book so much that we selected book number two in the series, Dark Tides, for our next read. The audiobook was an excellent listen.

Reading Challenges:

Death Deserved (Alexander Blix & Emma Ramm #1) by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger
(Translated from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce)

Jørn Lier Horst is a favorite Norwegian crime fiction author with his William Wisting series, but Thomas Enger is new to me. Their joint project intrigued me. I always enjoy returning to my native Oslo through books, and this story really took advantage of Oslo and the surrounding areas as the setting. The main characters, veteran police office Alexander Blix and celebrity blogger Emma Ramm, were smart and likeable, and the plot was very engaging with a satisfying end. I look forward to the next installment in the series, Smoke Screen, coming out later this month.

Reading Challenges:

The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting
(Translated from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin)

I loved Lars Mytting’s The Sixteen Trees of the Somme so The Bell in the Lake, the first book in his new trilogy, was high on my TBR list. When it was released in English during the pandemic, I had the chance to listen in on a  virtual chat between the author and translator and became even more enthusiastic about it.

The story takes place in the 1880s in the valley of Gudbrandsdalen in central Norway (also the setting of Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter). It’s about a young village woman who is torn between two outsiders in the community, the new priest who’s selling the village’s stave church to Germany and the German artist/architect who’s come to draw the church so it can be resurrected properly once it arrives in Germany.

I had mixed feelings about the book, much of it having to do with wanting and expecting to love it. I did love the setting and the historical aspect of the story. Getting a glimpse of life in Norway in the 1880s was intriguing, and stave churches have always interested me. Mytting’s descriptive writing really enhanced those aspects. However, I had trouble getting into the story itself. It was a little slow to get going, and at times the dialogue was a bit cumbersome. The dialogue was written in an old Norwegian dialect and it was also translated into an old English dialect. Another issue I had was not totally understanding the chemistry between the characters. Despite this, however, I am very eager to read the second book in the series, Hekneveven. It jumps ahead to the early 1900s and continues the legacy of the stave church, its bells, and descendants of the first book. It came out in Norway in October 2020 to great acclaim. The English translation’s release date is TBD.

Reading Challenges:

What have you been reading lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in snagging some Scandinavian ebooks at great discount, check out my Scandinavian Ebook Deals. Some offers stay around for a long time, others only a day or so. If anything looks intriguing, grab it before it’s gone. My most recent read, Death Deserved, and many other recent books I’ve enjoyed are currently on sale for $0.99 (as of the publication of this post).

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Reading Lately (March 2020) & #ScandiReadingChallenge Update

With a prolonged self-quarantine headed my way, I thought I would have lots of extra time to read. It hasn’t quite worked out that way yet. Maybe once we settle into this new normal, I’ll find more time to just read. In the meantime, here are my latest reads and listens. What have you been reading lately?

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth
(Audiobook narrated by Barrie Kreinik)

This was a wonderfully entertaining audiobook that I always returned to eagerly. It’s a murder mystery in which the mother-in-law is found dead under suspicious circumstances and no one in the family is safe from scrutiny. It’s told from the perspectives of the daughter-in-law and the mother-in-law, and it jumps back and forth in time so you get insights into all the family members’ histories and you see different perspectives on the same situations. They are a very complicated family and there are many unrealized misunderstandings. It was an extremely compelling story and had me engaged until the very end. I’ll be listening to/reading more by Sally Hepworth!

Reading Challenges:

Clearing Out by Helene Uri
(Translated from the Norwegian by Barbara Sjoholm, 2019)

This was a unique book, a mix of fiction and autobiography, about families and their stories. The author discovers her grandfather was a Sámi fisherman (indigenous people in the north of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia) and intertwines that experience with a fictional story of a character who goes to northern Norway to study Sámi language extinction. There are many parallels between the author and the fictional character. Not only are they both linguists, but they both also experience the loss of an older parent. At first it was a little difficult to distinguish between the author’s story and the character’s story, but soon the transitions became seamless and I considered it a clever technique. I was intrigued by the reflections on Sámi identities and their history in Norway. It’s not something I’ve come across often in Norwegian literature. (If interested, take a look at this article by the book’s translator which includes a discussion about the Sámi elements as well as an interview with the author.)

(Thank you to NetGalley and the University of Minnesota Press for providing me a copy of this book!)

Reading Challenges:

In the Midst of Winter: A Novel by Isabel Allende
(Translated from the Spanish by Nick Castor and Amanda Hopkinson)
(Audiobook narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris, Jasmine Cephas Jones, and Alma Cuervo)

All I knew about this book going into it was that it took place in Brooklyn during a big snowstorm. I did not know I’d be getting a whirlwind historical tour of Latin America. Most of the action takes place over just a few days when three people are brought together by a car accident. However, during their days together, we jump back in time to Guatemala in the 1990s, Chile in the 1950s, and Brazil in the 1990s to learn about their pasts. The illegal immigrant’s story of coming from Guatemala to the US through Mexico and across the Rio Grande was the one I enjoyed the most. Having recently read American Dirt, I appreciated the additional perspective on that experience. Overall, it was a fine story and the language was lovely, but it was not as engaging as I would have preferred.

Reading Challenges:

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

The racial tensions and violence of the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 form the basis for this novel. A contemporary story set in 2019, it follows two families who have a shared history with that racially tense time. Shawn Matthews, an African American man whose sister was shot and killed in 1991, leads a quiet life far away from his troublesome youth days in South Central LA. At the same time, Grace Park, a Korean American woman who lives a sheltered life home with her parents, can’t understand why her sister won’t talk to their mother. It’s a very engaging and compelling read which provided much material to discuss at our virtual book club meeting. I highly recommend it.

Reading Challenges:

What have you been reading lately?

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately (November & December 2019)

The last two months of the year continued to be a good and varied period of reading. Contemporary fiction, historical fiction, a short story collection, and thrillers that took place all over the world. What have you been reading lately?

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin

I am drawn to stories about complicated families, and this is such a story. It’s about four siblings and their relationships during and after the Pause, a period of a few years in their childhood after their father died unexpectedly and when their mother basically removed herself from their lives due to severe depression and left them to fend for themselves. It was interesting to see how each sibling was affected by the Pause and how each coped with the past and related to the others as the years passed. The story is told by the youngest sibling Fiona at the age of 102 years in the year 2079. After being a recluse for 25 years, she’s finally agreed to tell the story of the inspiration behind one of her most famous poems. It’s a thoughtful and touching look at one family’s trials and tribulations.

Reading Challenges:

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

A fan of YA historical fiction author Ruta Sepetys, I was thrilled to discover she had a new book coming out this year that was set in a time period I hadn’t read too much in, the 1950s in Spain during Franco’s fascist dictatorship. Specifically, the story takes place in Madrid in 1957 when the country is opening up to American tourists. There is great contrast between what tourists experience, in particular 18-year-old Daniel, the son of a wealthy Texas oil tycoon visiting with his parents, and how locals live, such as Ana, the hotel maid assigned to their rooms. The book opened my eyes to the brutal and heartbreaking history of this period. I really liked Daniel and admired his desire to veer from his dad’s vision for him and to pursue his photography instead. I cheered for Daniel and Ana’s growing friendship. A bonus was the primary source materials cited between chapters and the historic photos included at the end. This was a 5-star read for me.

Reading Challenges:

Forty Days Without Shadow: An Arctic Thriller by Olivier Truc

(Translated from the French by Louise Rogers Lalaurie)

I loved the setting of this book – wintertime in northern Norway above the Arctic Circle in the land of the Sámi indigenous people of Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Even though it’s a fiction book, I learned so much about Sámi history, culture, and issues. I had no idea there was such a thing as a reindeer police! I liked the two main characters, Klemet Nango and Nina Nansen, reindeer police who are involved with solving the crime of a stolen Sámi drum and the murder of a Sámi reindeer herder. Klemet is an older officer of Sámi heritage and Nina is a young Norwegian woman fresh out of police school. They are a good pair. I was not a fan of the male perspective and the language usage at times. Also, the male chauvinist behavior by a couple of the side characters was off-putting. However, overall it was a very enjoyable and interesting read. It’s the first in a series written in French and I hope the rest of them are translated into English.

Reading Challenges:

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

This was a fine book but not totally my cup of tea. I couldn’t relate to a sister helping to cover up a murder. It didn’t seem plausible, yet in this book they were able to do it more than once. I liked that the story was set in Lagos, Nigeria, giving me a glimpse of contemporary life there, and I did appreciate what the author made us think about – sisterhood, family, and social media. However, the dark humor and satire did not land with me.

Reading Challenges:

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

(Audiobook narrated by Matilda Novak)

I read this collection of short stories as an audiobook (upon Modern Mrs. Darcy’s recommendation in 15 terrific audiobooks you can listen to in 6(ish) hours or (much) less), and it was mesmerizing. I enjoy immigrant stories and books that take me to foreign cultures, and this collection had both. I loved the range of characters (from children to elderly) and the wide variety of experiences explored. Most stories were about Indian immigrants in America, but one was about American Indians visiting India and another about Indians in India. The characters and their stories are still with me. This was another 5-star read this year.

Reading Challenges:

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

This was a total impulse read. I needed something totally different than my previous reads. I started listening to it, but I had to speed up the narration to 1.5x to keep it somewhat engaging. The audiobook still wasn’t working for me, but I liked the story so ended up switching to the print edition. I got a little annoyed with the main character at times. I was frustrated that she couldn’t control her actions, but I understand that is easier said than done for someone in her condition. I didn’t see the twists before they came, but I wasn’t surprised by them either. Overall, it was an entertaining and engaging read.

Reading Challenges:

What have you been reading lately?

News to readers interested in Scandinavian reading, I will be introducing the 2020 Scandinavian Reading Challenge soon. Stay tuned!

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately & Reading Challenges Update: March 2018

I’m continuing my quest to complete three reading challenges this year: my own Scandinavian Reading Challenge, Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2018 Reading Challenge, and The Reading Women’s Reading Women Challenge. Having these reading challenges provides me with more focus when deciding what to read next. They also force me to choose books outside my normal reading habits. I also enjoy the challenge of finding books that fulfill tasks in more than one challenge at a time. And just for the fun of it, I’m seeing how many of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge tasks I can complete, too.

If you haven’t already checked out my 2018 Scandinavian Reading Challenge, I invite you to do so here. It’s not too late to join!

And once again, I’m joining Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit link-up where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately. This month I’m covering the last two months. Winter Break in February helped me catch up on my reading.

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

Once I got through the first part — felt there was a little too much description and detail — and the storyline went to China and I learned more about the mother’s situation, I was hooked. Keeping track of the two narratives, one in first person and the other in third person, both switching between past and present, was a little tough, so it wasn’t an easy read. But in the end, it was a read I really enjoyed. There were a lot of issues to ponder – illegal immigration from Asia, undocumented workers, interracial adoption, for-profit prisons, just to name a few. The book club discussion was very good. We had strong differing opinions about the mother.

Reading Challenges:

  • Reading Women Challenge—a book with an immigrant or refugee viewpoint character
  • Modern Mrs. Darcy—a book by an author of a different race, ethnicity or religion than your own
  • ReadHarder—a book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa)

God’s Mercy by Kerstin Ekman (Translated from Swedish by Linda Schenck)

What intrigued my Scandinavian Book Club the most about God’s Mercy was the reference to the indigenous Sami people in the book’s description. The book is about a young Swedish midwife who in 1916 moves from a university town to a remote rural area of Sweden close to the Norwegian border in anticipation of being with her secret fiancé. Things do not turn out the way she anticipated. I thought it was a very interesting look at life in this community of Swedes, Samis, and Norwegians (descriptive and complete). However, it was a tough read. There were three narratives that jumped around in time and place. It was hard to keep track of all the people and their families without taking notes. The book left me with some unanswered questions, but that’s understandable considering it’s the first in a trilogy. (My understanding is that the other books in the trilogy have not been translated yet.)

Reading Challenges:

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (Narrated by Orlagh Cassidy and Bahni Turpin)

Once again, Modern Mrs. Darcy’s recommendations of audiobooks that enhance your reading experience didn’t disappoint! The book opens in 1791 in Virginia and is about a young orphaned Irish girl who is raised as an indentured servant and lives with the slaves in the plantation’s kitchen house. I was drawn in the moment I started listening and became very invested in the characters, especially the female ones. There are two narratives, each read by a different voice. One voice is Lavinia, the orphaned girl, and the other is Belle, her mother figure, the half-white illegitimate daughter of the plantation owner. It’s not a light read. There’s a lot of brutality towards the slaves. But at the same time, there’s great love, caring, and warmth among the slaves and Lavinia. The book is heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time.

Reading Challenges:

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

I picked this book because I needed a change from all the historical fiction and heavy reads I had read recently, and what better way to do that than with a superhero fantasy book, a genre I never read (#ReadingWomenChallenge!). Also, Leigh Bardugo was a YA author I was curious about. I appreciated and enjoyed the strong and independent female character of Diana, the diverse cast of characters, the female empowerment and friendship, and Bardugo’s writing, but this specific genre just isn’t for me.

Reading Challenges:

Beartown by Fredrik Backman (Translated from Swedish by Neil Smith)

I’m a Fredrik Backman fan, but this book was not like his others I had read (My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry and A Man Called Ove). It’s much more serious and philosophical. It’s about how a small, rural town deals with a sexual assault by its star hockey player. To begin with, I was very uncomfortable reading it. I was disgusted by the actions and attitude of so many people (the bullying, the locker room talk and behavior, racism, classism, and sexism) and I felt like a bystander as I just continued reading along. Finally, more characters started standing up for what was right and I began to enjoy the book more. The ending was very satisfying. It was a great book for our book club meeting. The sequel Us Against You comes out this June 5.

Reading Challenges:

Currently reading and next on my list…


I’m currently listening to Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan read by Heather Lind, Norbert Leo Butz, and Vincent Piazza. The audiobook was recommended by Los Angeles Times as an audiobook not to be missed. I’ve never liked the cover so it fulfills the category “a book with a cover you hate” for Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge.

While my Scandinavian Book Club is reading The Sound of Language by Amulya Malladi which I’ve already read, I’m reading The Copenhagen Affair by the same author. For my Scandinavian Reading Challenge it fulfills the category “a Scandinavian or Scandinavia-themed book whose cover piqued your interest,” but it could also fulfill the category “a book set somewhere in Scandinavia you would like to visit (or revisit).”

Next up to read will be Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman for my local book club. It coincidentally fulfills the category of “a book nominated for an award in 2018” for Modern Mrs. Darcy’s reading challenge.

What have you been reading lately?


Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.