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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call (310) 467-5180.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.