It was a year ago this month that virtual events started making an impression on me. Norway’s national day was coming up on May 17 with nowhere to celebrate. However, I soon discovered virtual events were being hosted by various organizations which allowed me to celebrate in a new way. I published my How to Celebrate Norway’s Constitution Day, May 17, during Coronavirus Times with a list of virtual events and activity ideas. My favorite event was Norway’s own day-long virtual celebration where they shared footage of traditions and Norwegians all over Norway celebrating interspersed with food, music, and interview segments.
Little did I know there would be virtual events for the 17th of May in 2021 as well, though maybe not as many since this year there is some reopening and 17th of May falls on a Monday instead of a Sunday. Scroll down for a listing of current virtual Syttende mai events. More will added as I learn of them. Once again, Norway’s national television station will be broadcasting a day-long program of festivities from all over Norway. On Monday, May 17, starting at 7:50 a.m. Central European Time, you can watch along. In the meantime, watch highlights from last year’s broadcast here.
In case you missed the news, Denmark’s Another Round directed by Thomas Vinterberg won the Oscar for Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards on Sunday, April 26. It’s a comedy about four high school teachers who consume alcohol on a daily basis to see how it affects their social and professional lives. Interestingly, English language remake rights have been sold and the remake may star Leonardo DiCaprio. If you haven’t seen it, you can rent, buy, or stream through Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Hulu, and other services.
What events interest you?
The tenth session of the New Nordic Cinema series features the film Diana’s Wedding (Norway, 2020; dir. Charlotte Blom). On July 29, 1981, Lady Diana Spencer is marrying Prince Charles in the majestic St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. And on that same day, another celebration is taking place in the canteen of a Norwegian small-town factory: the wedding party of Liv and Terje, attended by their newborn daughter Diana. While less glamorous than those of the royal counterpart, the wedding and its following years are indisputably more fun — for all but the young Diana, who sees it as a rollercoaster filled with chaos, inflicted by the worst parents in the world.
On Walpurgis Day on May 1, join Scandinavia House in New York, NY, to welcome in the spring with a special celebration of the iconic Swedish author Elsa Beskow! Special guest Ingrid Kullberg-Bendz (Scandinavian American Theater Company) will introduce Beskow’s world of beautiful illustrations and children’s literature, which Swedish children have grown up with for over 100 years, and have since made the author known internationally as the “Beatrix Potter” of Sweden. Ingrid Kullberg-Bendz will introduce her work with examples of illustrations, followed by a virtual art workshop based on Beskow’s literature. The video will premiere at 11:00 a.m. ET on May 1 and be available through Saturday, May 8.
Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, on May 2 for a virtual book talk with Swedish author Patrik Svensson to discuss his book The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World. “Drawing on a breadth of research about eels in literature, history, and modern marine biology, as well as his own experience fishing for eels with his father, Patrik Svensson crafts a mesmerizing portrait of an unusual, utterly misunderstood, and completely captivating animal.” Dr. Elizabeth DeNoma moderates the talk and the session includes an opportunity to ask questions.
Join celebrated Nordic cookbook author and food historian Patrice Johnson (AKA the Nordic Food Geek) to make a traditional Nordic-style fish chowder. Fish is an important part of many food traditions around the world and particularly in Scandinavia with its abundance of lakes, rivers, and seacoast. To accompany the course, we will make a loaf of simple rye bread. Patrice will also discuss the differences in fish soup across the region. This Vesterheim cooking class is designed as a small-group cook-along and Vesterheim invites exchange between the instructor and students in order to build community around food traditions. Enrollment Deadline: April 29.
The 11th session of the New Nordic Cinema series features the film Run Uje Run (Sweden, 2020; dir. Henrik Schyffert). The autobiographical story of Uje Brandelius, a family father, radio host and keyboard player in his pop band Doktor Kosmos, Run Uje Run stars Uje and his family in their initially harmonious and ordinary suburban life outside Stockholm: where family dinners, homework, negotiation on drop-offs to the kindergarten, and his daughter’s chess and fencing training are their main concerns. But Uje finds himself faced with a life-changing crisis upon learning that he has Parkinson’s disease — which he at first keeps as a secret, while also reflecting on many of the the big questions in life.
This class is sold out, but you may be added to the waitlist. New to baking and want to make a batch of cardamom buns start-to-finish with a (virtual) helper right in your kitchen? Join Erin for this three-part class (10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., 1-2 p.m. & 3-4 p.m. with breaks for the dough to rise) to make these Swedish classics at home. This is a participatory class and spots are intentionally limited to allow interaction between students and the instructor.
Join Nordic Northwest virtually and listen to Dr. Líney Árnadóttir share about her lived experience growing up in Iceland. Dr. Líney Árnadóttir is an Associate Professor in Chemical Engineering at Oregon State University. Líney was born in the late seventies and grew up in Reykjavik. Like many children her age she spent summers on a farm in the south of Iceland with her grandparents. Líney got her B.S. in chemistry from the University of Iceland after which Líney moved to Seattle for graduate school and has lived in the Pacifc Northwest since. Líney visits Iceland often to see family, hike and go horseback riding with her father. This is offered as both an online streaming event and in-person program.
Join Vesterheim and celebrated artist Siri Bergløff Berrefjord, author and mother of the artform bunadsplast, as she and Vesterheim Collections Manager Jennifer Kovarik discuss her journey of examining and questioning the traditions of Norwegian jewelry and textiles and reimagining them for the modern world. Norwegian cultural heritage has been defined by centuries of tradition and is made visible in the crafting and wearing of bunader and søljer. Today, there is growing interest in applying modern materials and techniques to traditional artforms, combining both the past and the present into new and innovative jewelry and clothing. Enrollment deadline: May 6. Program is free but you must register.
Swedish cinnamon rolls get a lot of press, but even more unique are their cousin – the kardemummabulle, or cardamom roll. These sweet yeasted rolls are flavored exclusively with Sweden’s favorite spice, with the cardamom acting as the main event in the dough, the filling and the glittery sugar topping! 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. The recipe packet will be available for download one week in advance and a recording will be shared after class, offering the ability to re-watch as needed.
Join Anu Utriainen, Senior Researcher, and Hanne Selkokari, Curator, from the Ateneum Art Museum, the Finnish National Gallery in Helsinki, for an in-depth look at National Nordic Museum’s new exhibit, Among Forests and Lakes: Landscape Masterpieces from the Finnish National Gallery. Selected scenes cover more than 150 years and 800 miles, with artworks capturing the splendor and grandeur of Finland from the coast and archipelago in the south to Sápmi and the Arctic Ocean in the north.
The Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, selects novels from some of the best Nordic literary voices. On May 11, they’ll be discussing Fredrik Backman’s new book Anxious People.
Join Vesterheim and Liz Bucheit to explore a new “twist” on a traditional craft! Using pewter wire thread and a macramé style weave, students will create a pair of hoop earrings with a silver drop and sterling silver French hook ear wires. Finished hoops are approximately 1 inch in diameter and display a soft shimmery sparkle in sunlight and candle light. No previous experience is necessary, but a willingness to use hand tools is required. Kits come with all supplies needed (an $80 value!) with the exception of pliers. This class is also offered on Friday, May 14.
Join Magne Hatlevik of Mindekirken Norwegian Language & Culture Program in Minneapolis, MN, for a tour across beautiful landscape as you visit some of Norway’s most important national symbols featured in Eidvoll, Hamar, Lillehammer, Åndalsnes, and Trollstigen. We will also travel through Western Norway’s rugged terrain winding our way from Sunnmøre all the way back to Oslo.
On May 13, see a virtual poetry reading and discussion with Nordic poets and translators Helena Boberg, Johannes Göransson, Katrine Øgaard Jensen, and Ursula Andkjær Olsen, moderated by Paul Cunningham (The House of the Tree of Sores). Helena Boberg and Johannes Göransson will present readings of works from Boberg’s new book Sense Violence, now out in English translation by Göransson from Black Ocean, and Ursula Andkjær Olsen and Katrine Øgaard Jensen will present readings from Olsen’s new book Outgoing Vessel, now out in English translation by Jensen from Action Books. Following the readings, they will discuss new topics in Nordic poetry and translation.
Join Nordic Northwest for lively evening with Rick Steves, widely considered America’s most respected authority on travel to Europe. Steves will highlight travel to the Nordic countries with special sites to visit, travel tips and how to have a fun, affordable and culturally broadening experience. We will also learn from Steves how to discover the Nordic countries through the backdoor. This event will include an extensive Q & A period where you can ask Steves your burning questions.
The Scandinavian American Cultural & Historical Foundation in Thousand Oaks, CA, is hosting a monthly series of Second Friday Nordic Spirit Classics, a virtual program of selected presentations from 21 years of Nordic Spirit Symposia. This month join them for Viking Archaeology in Saga Iceland, a fascinating illustrated talk by Professor Jesse Byock, UCLA. Participation is free. Register here to receive link.
This class is sold out, but you can join the waitlist. Join Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen to make a show-stopping Norwegian celebration cake filled with roasted strawberries and pastry cream and topped with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Perfect for Syttende Mai or any summer occasion! This Vesterheim cooking class is designed as a small-group cook-along and they invite exchange between the instructor and students in order to build community around food traditions.
🇳🇴 17th of May Celebrations 🇳🇴
NRK’s Gratulerer med dagen! (Monday, May 17, 7:50 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Central European Time)
Program hosts Nadia Hasnaoui og Christian Strand will be filming from Akershus festning overlooking the Oslo Harbor. In addition to seeing how Norwegians all over Norway celebrate, you will also get a glimpse of how the royal family celebrates. For details on the program, visit Slik blir 17. mai 2021 på NRK.
Norway Day is a collaboration between Sjømannskirken in New York and Norwegian groups and organizations in New York and Washington, D.C. At 10:00 a.m. ET, join the Raising of the Flag ceremony with a speech by the Norwegian Ambassador to the US, Anniken Ramberg Krutnes, and music from Rockville Brass Band. This is followed by a church service from the Norwegian Church in New York at 11:00 a.m. ET (service in Norwegian). Finally, at 4:00 p.m. enjoy a 17th of May concert with musicians from both Norway and USA.
Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, and celebrate Syttende Mai with a Norwegian flag art project! Make a Norwegian collage flag. Cost: Free; RSVP required to receive the link.
Join Vesterheim in Decorah, Iowa, for a free webinar as they celebrate Syttende Mai with friends from Norway and the United States! First Norwegian storyteller Anne Elisebeth Skogen will join the webinar from Ryfylkemuseet at Sand, Norway, to tell the story, Schoolgirl and My Very First May 17th Parade in 1962. Anne Elisebeth grew up in the little town of Egersund, Norway, south of Stavanger. With an education in drama and storytelling, Anne Elisebeth runs her own storytelling business, telling stories for schools, organizations, festivals, and companies. Next, Decorah musicians Beth and Jon Rotto (playing fiddle and rhythm guitar, respectively) will offer Norwegian and Norwegian-American tunes from the Bethania Church in Vesterheim’s Heritage Park.
Join an online gala celebration from Seattle’s historic Ballard neighborhood. It will begin with a pre-program lineup of entertainment and fun from 11:30 a.m. to noon. Then a virtual program from The National Nordic Museum will feature remarks from Grand Marshal Mayor Marte Mjøs Persen from Seattle’s Sister City Bergen; Honorary Marshal Eric Nelson, CEO, National Nordic Museum; and Ambassador Anniken R. Krutnes, Royal Norwegian Embassy; and His Majesty King Harald V of Norway. It will also include memories from past Syttende Mai celebrations and Syttende Mai song sing-alongs.
Syttende Mai Minnesota will host an online event in honor of Norway’s Constitution Day. Connect with the Norwegian-American community and hear remarks from Her Excellency Ambassador Anniken Krutnes, Norway’s Ambassador to the United States. Afterwards, Ethan Bjelland from Norway House and Mindekirken’s Norwegian Language & Culture Program will lead us in singing a few celebratory songs! This event is complimentary and accessible to everyone. Please register by May 16.
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 for a conversation about one of Jo Nesbø’s most famous novels, The Snowman, part of the Harry Hole detective series. Harry investigates the disappearance of a young boy’s mother when he comes to discover that women have disappeared on the day of the first snow for the past several years. Enrollment deadline: May 17.
Join Vesterheim for this family-fun reading and outdoor adventure! A kit delivered right to your home contains supplies for book-reading, a fun craft, a snack, and a scavenger-hunt-type adventure. In the spirit of the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv, the scavenger-hunt-type activity will get you up and moving in the great outdoors. For June, you will follow Norwegian author Håkon Øvreås through his fun and moving book, Brown, the first book in the award-winning My Alter Ego Is a Superhero series from Norway. Enrollment deadline: May 20.
Kids and parents, learn a simple technique to personalize anything made out of wood! Kroting is a type of decoration that began long ago on the western coast of Norway. The oldest examples are often geometric, but the tradition later evolved to include tulips and vines. In this at-home experience, you’ll be encouraged to be creative and make pictures and designs that are entirely your own! The price of the class includes a special folk-art class kit designed for two participants to explore kroting. Kit includes all of the specialized folk-art materials needed, some images as inspiration from the Vesterheim Collection, and a treat. Enrollment Deadline: May 20.
Language is a powerful tool that not only allows us to communicate thoughts and events, but that inherently transmits the context and world within which each letter, document, or record was produced. Michael Knudson, Ph.D. candidate in Scandinavian Studies–Philology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, will walk through the history of Norwegian from the earliest times to the present day and look at ways we as researchers can more fully make sense of the records we read. The session will conclude with an opportunity to ask questions to get guidance on your own genealogy research.
Join this two-part class (also May 29) to knit a pair of Skolt Sámi mittens based on a pair held in the The National Museum of Finland. While Skolt Sámi knitting is normally in white or grey base yarn with red and blue accents, this mitten was knitted in grey, red, yellow, and green. The green shows the influence of the neighboring Inari Sámi peoples, who regularly use green in their traditional garments. The yellow most likely indicates the original mitten was used by a woman. Lastly, the original yarn was spindle spun. This class requires students to provide their own materials.
Join Nordiska as they discuss For the Love of Cod by Eric Dregni, a comic travelogue that focuses on the intergenerational relationship between Dregni and his son, Eilif, as they explore the concept of Norwegian happiness asking why this Nordic country consistently rates at the top of the World Happiness Report and how it translates into other contexts. Not only is Norway’s Constitution Day the 17th of May, but also Dregni and his son travel to Norway during the month of May in order to experience the festivals and the beginnings of the midnight sun. Therefore, this Nordic travelogue represents a perfect pick for this month’s book club as it should lend itself well to a discussion on contemporary Norway and the Nordic America connection.
The National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, will host a series of Nordic Talks, sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers, focused on the theme of food security and sustainability. The first of the Nordic Talks series, this panel will explore how fine dining pivoted during the COVID-19 pandemic, serving households that are food insecure or adopting new business models. COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, curfews, quarantines, and stay-at-home orders exacted a heavy toll on fine dining restaurants. However, creative chefs and resilient restauranteurs responded swiftly with innovative solutions to continue serving the public. Among the panelists are Danish Chef Rasmus Munch from The Alchemist in Copenhagen and Finnish Chef Sasu Laukkonen from Ora Restaurant in Helsinki. Cost: Free; RSVP to receive the link.
The Norwegian eight-part drama series Atlantic Crossing came to PBS Masterpiece on April 4. A princess steals the heart of the president of the United States in an epic drama based on the World War II relationship of Franklin Roosevelt and Norwegian Crown Princess Martha. Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks, Sex and the City) stars as Roosevelt, opposite Swedish star Sofia Helin (The Bridge) as the beautiful Martha, who flees the Nazis with her three young children and lives under Roosevelt’s protection.
On March 4, Scandinavia House Online introduced the interactive digital exhibition Conversations with a Shipwreck, a haunting, multimedia meditation on the Swedish warship Vasa, created in word and image by ASF Fellows Joan Wickersham and Adam Davies. Through presentations of poems and large-format photographs, with short durational video and audio, this digital art and literary exhibition responds to the legendary warship — which sank only minutes into her maiden voyage — exploring themes of memory and oblivion, technological triumph and fiasco, permanence and impermanence, mortality and time.
Which May 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.