Virtual Nordic Events for December 2020: The Christmas Edition

Virtual Nordic events continue to flourish with something for everyone, and this month many events are Christmas themed. Be sure to visit last month’s listing of virtual Nordic events; many of those events are now available to view as saved recordings.

Local LA readers, the Norwegian Church’s Julemarked, or Christmas Market, will continue until Christmas. This is an opportunity to stock up on Christmas food essentials, treats, and fresh baked goods, as well as Christmas decorations and gifts. The shop is open during regular church hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Please confirm hours before heading to the store by emailing or calling.

A few new Nordic themed experiences that aren’t dated events have come on my radar recently:

   

      

  • For a daily dose of some Christmas spirit the Nordic way, check out Jacquie Lawson’s interactive, animated Nordic Advent Calendar. It’s full of games and amusements and daily surprises.
  • For a cozy Norwegian Christmas atmosphere with all the feels, watch the Norwegian Netflix original series, Home for Christmas. Season 1 dropped last December and Season 2 will be released December 18, 2020. It’s about a 30-year-old single woman trying to find a boyfriend in time to bring home for the Christmas family dinner. I watched the first season. I laughed and cried and loved the wintery Christmas setting in Norway. I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the second season.
  • On the other end of the seasonal spectrum is the movie The Sunlit Night (via Amazon Prime Video), a romance/drama set in Northern Norway, specifically Lofoten, during the summer. I read and enjoyed the book by Rebecca Dinerstein upon which it is based, and she wrote the screenplay for the movie. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the area and the midnight sun and I’m sure that the setting of the movie will be spectacular since it was filmed on location.
  • Fans of Norwegian World War II history can watch The 12th Man (via Netflix), a movie which follows a Norwegian saboteur’s journey to reach safety after narrowly escaping a Nazi attack. (New to Netflix October 2020)
  • A new podcast, The Nordics Unveiled by Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing embarks on a journey to the North “exploring the themes of Nordic mythology, folk music, Sami tradition, discovery of forgotten Nordic works in music, philosophy, architecture and nature.”

Finally, mark your calendars for the Scandinavian Film Festival L.A. (SFFLA) with Baltic Film Expo (@SFFLA) which will take place virtually January 7-10 and January 14-17 in cooperation with Scandinavia House in New York, NY. They will offer virtual screenings of films chosen by the Nordic and Baltic countries to compete for the Oscar nomination for the Best International Feature Film. Explore the schedule and plan your weekends. Your can buy a festival pass for access to all screenings or individual tickets.


12 Days of Christmas Gifts – Silent Auction & Instant Shop (December 1 – 12)

Norway House in Minneapolis, MN, is introducing something new to the Gingerbread Wonderland spirit! This holiday auction serves as a unique opportunity to support Norway House AND check items off your shopping list at the same time. The majority of items will be available in a traditional auction style, closing at 8:00 p.m. CT on December 12. Alongside their auction, they will also have an Instant Shop of items, open and convenient for immediate purchases of Norway House special merchandise. Check their event page for a link to preview auction items.

The Great Norwegian Christmas Cookie Extravaganza (December 1 – 14)

The Norwegian American, North America’s oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, hosts its first ever Great Norwegian Christmas Cookie Extravaganza! They’ve compiled a collection of recipes to help you make the required seven kinds of cookie for the holidays. Check in each day from December 1 to December 14 for a new recipe. You will see many familiar names in this Christmas Cookie Extravaganza: cookbook authors, bloggers, professional bakers, shop owners, and other leaders in the Norwegian-American community. Recipes are Norwegian or Norwegian-inspired, and each contributor shared a bit about their recipe’s origins or special tips.

NRK’s “Julekalender” Christmas 2020 Series: Stjernestøv (December 1 – 24)

Every day leading up to Christmas, Norway’s national TV station NRK will release a new episode of its Christmas 2020 series Stjernestøv (Star Dust). It is about 9-year-old Jo who experiences a tough start to Christmas when his parents divorce. He is visited by Elly, the star child from the North, and together they have an unusual and exciting December. It is in Norwegian and available for worldwide viewing.

The Norwegian American’s Christmas Calendar (December 1 – 24)

There is no Christmas in Norway without a julekalender—a special treat to open each day from December 1 until Christmas Eve. So this year at The Norwegian American, they are offering their own first annual julekalender, beginning with 14 recipes from the Great Norwegian Christmas Cookie Extravaganza and then followed by a special collection of holiday music to enjoy while you eat the Christmas cookies you just made!

Virtual Book Talk: Meet the Author with Lisbeth Zornig Andersen (Tuesday, December 1)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for the third talk in their new series Meet the Author. On December 1, Danish author Lisbeth Zornig Andersen will discuss her book Anger Is My Middle Name, an empowering memoir of resilience and redemption, and the rage that helped a girl escape the darkness of a harrowing childhood. The talk is in conversation with translator Dr. Mark Mussari and moderated by Dr. Elizabeth DeNoma.

Virtual Nordic Stories (for Kids): Santa’s Littlest Helper (Thursday, December 3)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for story time and craft with their special guest, librarian Sara Jensen. Listen to the Finnish story Santa’s Littlest Helper by Anu Stohner and Henrike Wilson. After the story, Sara will teach kids how to make a craft with items found at home. Update: View a recording here.

Norwegian Christmas Countdown with Vesterheim (Fridays, December 4, 11, 18)

Vesterheim’s Norwegian Christmas Celebration is going online. Experience Norwegian Christmas from home with the free GooseChase scavenger hunt app. Get ready to play and learn: make crafts, experience holiday traditions, cook Norwegian holiday specialties, decorate, enjoy being outdoors, and more. Collaborate on “missions” in person with your household or pod, or invite your friends and family to join together as a team online. Team members can play from anywhere. Earn points for a chance to win fantastic prizes! Join any or all of three weekly “games” beginning on Fridays in December.

Scandinavian Fest: Virtual Holiday Market (December 4 – 6)

Scandinavian Fest brings Nordic shops and businesses from around the globe together in one online location during the absence of in-person events. During the first weekend in December, join Virtual Holiday Market on Facebook to discover unique Nordic products, take advantage of discounts, and win giveaways. To participate, mark that you are Going or Interested in the event and then follow the Discussion tab on the event page for products, discounts and giveaways. For more information, visit Virtual Holiday Market.

Scandinavian Christmas Arts & Crafts (Saturday, December 5)

Join The Scandinavian School in San Francisco for their annual traditional Scandinavian Christmas arts and crafts event, this year virtual. They are planning some typical Scandinavian Christmas decorations like the clove covered orange, the classical candle lantern made out of sugar cubes, and a tomtenisse or two. Santa may even stop by for a visit. If you are unable to stop by to pick up materials, they will provide a list of what you need. For more details and ticket information, visit Scandinavian Christmas Arts & Crafts.

Panel Discussion: Nordic Colonialism in the Caribbean (Saturday, December 5)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for this virtual panel including Professor Lill-Ann Körber from Aarhus University, Denmark, and Temi Odumosu, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies at Malmö University, Sweden, as they examine Nordic colonialism in the Caribbean. The talk takes place in connection with the current exhibition, La Vaughn Belle: A History of Unruly Returns. Update: View a recording here.

Virtual Book Talk: Swedish Chef Magnus Nilsson in Conversation w/ Chef Edouardo Jordan (Sunday, December 6)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for a virtual book talk as they welcome back world-renowned Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson for a special talk launching his new book Fäviken: 4015 Days, Beginning to End (2020, Phaidon). Nilsson recently closed his extraordinary Fäviken restaurant at the height of its success to, among other things, buy an apple orchard. In the book, Nilsson details his fascinating first-hand account of the restaurant’s evolution—candid, insightful and thought-provoking. Learn more about what it was like to run a restaurant like Fäviken, as well as all the lessons he learned along the way––from virtual obscurity to the bright lights of the world stage. Celebrated Seattle-based chef Edouardo Jordan will also join this talk.

Gingerbread Wonderland Virtual Exhibit (December 6 – January 2)

The entire Gingerbread Wonderland exhibit at Norway House in Minneapolis, MN, will be available online for the world to see. Check here for more information on how to view the exhibit from home.

Jardar Johansen: North Norwegian Christmas Concerts (December 6 – January 4)

Jardar Johansen offers two digital Christmas concerts from Tromsø in Arctic Norway: a live recording of his 19th traditional North Norwegian Christmas Concert from the Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø in 2019 and a special recording of traditional Christmas songs from the charming Hillesøy Church on ‘yttersia’, the outer edge of the Tromsø region. English subtitles. Cost per concert is 350 NOK, approximately $40. One ticket allows you to enjoy one concert to be viewed as much as you want from one IP address for 30 days after purchase.

Online Nordic Book Club: The Brahmadells (Tuesday, December 8)

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 Brahmadells by Jóanes Nielsen, translated to English by Kerri A. Pierce, who recently moderated the virtual panel Faroese Authors You Should Know. One of the first Faroese books to be translated into English, The Brahmadells is an epic novel chronicling the lives of a particular family—nicknamed “the Brahmadells”—against the larger history of the Faroe Islands, from the time of Danish rule, through its national awakening, to its independence. Visit the event page for more information and to register.

Nordic Holiday Craft Workshop: Woven Hearts (Wednesday, December 9)

On Wednesdays this month, experience the Nordic holidays with a series of virtual workshops from the Children’s Center at Scandinavia House in New York, NY. In this series, learn how Scandinavians prepare for Christmas through programs teaching how to make traditional holiday craft items. The first event on December 9 will feature woven hearts (flettet julehjerte). Download a booklet with instructions for all crafts presented in this workshop series. Update: The craft workshop is now available as a recorded video.

Classic Scandinavian Treats by Farm Table Foundation (Thursday, December 10)

Learn how to prepare Scandinavian holiday treats and hear some of the stories and history behind those delicacies. The evening will highlight four specialties: Swedish kanelbullar and Norwegian knots, which are two different techniques employed in making two delicious Scandinavian cinnamon buns; Lucia buns, a pretty, spectacular golden saffron bun traditionally served on Sweden’s darkest day of the year (December 13, St. Lucia Day); and the Danish kringle, the many-layered fruit-filled pastry that Denmark is famous for. Register here.

Norwegian Christmas Countdown with Vesterheim: Week 2 (Friday, December 11)

Vesterheim’s Norwegian Christmas Celebration is online. Experience Norwegian Christmas from home with the free GooseChase scavenger hunt app. A new game starts every Friday in December. Make crafts, experience holiday traditions, cook Norwegian holiday specialties, decorate, enjoy being outdoors, and more. Team members can play from anywhere. Earn points for a chance to win fantastic prizes! Join any or all of three weekly “games” beginning on Fridays in December. Watch Vesterheim’s website livestreams or Facebook page for the launch on Friday.

Scandinavian Christmas Baking Virtual Workshops (December 12 & 13)

Join Scandinavian School in San Francisco’s native Dane Leda Jessen for two traditional Scandinavian baking events: December 12 for Danish Christmas cookies called jødekager and finskbrød and December 13 for Swedish lussekatter. You can join for a single event or for both. On both dates, Leda will also be sharing her secret recipe for Glögg, a mulled drink enjoyed all over Scandinavia at Christmas time. For more details and ticket information, visit Scandinavian Christmas Baking Workshops.

Lucia Celebration with American Swedish Institute (Sunday, December 13)

This special concert is a wonderful annual tradition for both performers and audiences. Gather the family around the computer or tablet this year and celebrate light during the long winter with the youthful voices of the ASI Lucia Choir for a magical 20-minute performance over Zoom. $10 per connection. Register here.

Virtual St. Lucia Celebration with Scandinavia House (Sunday, December 13)

On Sunday, December 13, join Scandinavia House in New York, NY, for a virtual St. Lucia celebration with Ingrid Kullberg-Bendz. The event will take place as a Zoom webinar. Each year, Scandinavia House has shared in this tradition with processions from members of the Swedish Church Choir in New York, who join in traditional Lucia gowns with candles to sing Scandinavian and American holiday carols such as the “Sankta Lucia” at various events. This year, They’ll be taking the tradition virtual with a discussion and Q&A on the St. Lucia celebrations with Ingrid Kullberg-Bendz, a singer in the Swedish Church Choir and actress with the Scandinavian American Theater Company, who has led the performances at Scandinavia House each year. Register here. Update: Now available as a recorded viewing here.

Virtual Panel Discussion: The US and the Nordics, 2021 (Tuesday, December 15)

Organized by the National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, and the University of Washington’s Scandinavian Studies Department, this panel will examine current attitudes in the Nordic countries toward the United States. Thought leaders with backgrounds in journalism, government, culture, and business will also offer suggestions on how the US might strengthen its ties to Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, as well as the autonomous territories of the Faroe Islands and Greenland over the next four years. For more details and to register, visit National Nordic Museum’s event page. Update: View a recording here.

Contemporary Folk Art at Disney’s Norwegian Pavilion (Tuesday, December 15)

Join master woodworkers Phil Odden & Else Bigton and master rosemaler Patti Goke, as they discuss their work on Disney’s Norwegian Pavilion at Epcot. Phil, Else, Patti, and their teams worked on all of the woodwork and painting in the recent Frozen remodeling of the buildings and will share how these different crafts have informed and influenced patterns, design decisions, and overall planning. These master artisans will also discuss what it means to make and share craft in today’s world and in a location like Disney that serves millions of visitors each year.

Nordic Holiday Craft Workshop: Yarn Tomte (Wednesday, December 16)

This December, experience the Nordic holidays with a series of virtual workshops from the Children’s Center at Scandinavia House in New York, NY. In this series, learn how Scandinavians prepare for Christmas through programs teaching how to make traditional holiday craft items. In this second event, see how to make a yarn tomte! A Swedish tomte (known as a nisse in Denmark and Norway or tonttu in Finnish) is one of the most familiar creatures of Scandinavian folklore. The event will take place simultaneously as a premiere on both YouTube and Facebook. Download a booklet with instructions for all crafts presented in this workshop series. Update: Now available as a recorded viewing here.

Vesterheim Bokprat: Out Stealing Horses (Wednesday, December 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 her in December to discuss Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses, a novel beloved by readers the world over. Enrollment deadline is December 9. (Watch the movie afterwards, details below.)

Virtual Crafts & Cocktails (Thursday, December 17)

Recharge from your day with an evening of creativity and fun! Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for their virtual Crafts & Cocktails event to get a mini-virtual tour from one their docents, learn a cocktail recipe, and make a craft using supplies you have around the house. This month make paper woven hearts, perfect for your Christmas tree or to adorn gifts.

Norwegian Christmas Countdown with Vesterheim: Week 3 (Friday, December 18)

This is the final game of Vesterheim’s online Norwegian Christmas Celebration. Experience Norwegian Christmas from home with the free GooseChase scavenger hunt app. A new game starts every Friday in December. Make crafts, experience holiday traditions, cook Norwegian holiday specialties, decorate, enjoy being outdoors, and more. Team members can play from anywhere. Earn points for a chance to win fantastic prizes! Join any or all of three weekly “games” beginning on Fridays in December. Watch Vesterheim’s website livestreams or Facebook page for the launch on Friday.

Vesterheim’s Family Heritage Cooking Series: Pepparkakor with the Bissell Family (Saturday, December 19)

Gather your family and friends and celebrate Scandinavian heritage, share family stories, and make memories in the kitchen. In this live, family-led cooking demonstration, you’ll learn about traditional Nordic holiday recipes, passed down from one generation to the next. Upon registration, you will receive a list of ingredients and equipment needed, a recipe, and the Zoom link for the event.

Virtual Nordic Holiday Cooking & Glögg with Morten Sohlberg & Ulrika Bengtsson (Saturday, December 19)

This holiday season, see how to celebrate Scandinavian-style with a special cooking and glögg-making workshop! Morten Sohlberg, the chef and owner of Smörgås Chef restaurant at Scandinavia House, and his family will present an online demo of making one of their favorite holiday dishes — Swedish meatballs, a popular Smörgås Chef classic — as well as an introduction to his upstate Blenheim Hill Farm, with some live music from his sons Edvard and Erik Sohlberg. Following the food demonstration, Swedish chef Ulrika Bengtsson will present an online demo on how to make glögg. The event will take place simultaneously as a premiere on both YouTube and Facebook. Update: Now available as a recording here.

Koselig Cocktails with Vesterheim (Saturday, December 19)

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 December 9. Update: This class is now sold out, but they are offering another one on February 11, 2021.

Vesterheim’s Family Heritage Cooking Series: Potato Lefse with the Kittelson Family (Sunday, December 20)

Gather your family and friends and celebrate Scandinavian heritage, share family stories, and make memories in the kitchen. In this live, family-led cooking demonstration, you’ll learn about traditional Nordic holiday recipes, passed down from one generation to the next. Upon registration, you will receive a list of ingredients and equipment needed, a recipe, and the Zoom link for the event.

Nordic Holiday Craft Workshop: Julgranskaramell (Wednesday, December 23)

In this final holiday craft workshop, learn how to make a julgranskaramell. Meaning “Christmas tree candy” in Swedish, a julgranskaramell is a special type of ornament that Scandinavians hang on their Christmas trees, consisting of small tubes filled with candies that are then brightly decorated with colorful tissue paper. The event will take place simultaneously as a premiere on both YouTube and Facebook. Download a booklet with instructions for all crafts presented in this workshop series. Update: Now available as a recording here.

Norwegian Digital Jazz Festival (December 25 – January 1)

Due to popular demand, Big Ears Festival is restreaming the entire Norwegian Digital Jazz Festival series over eight consecutive days during the holidays! The festival was a tremendous success garnering glowing reviews and acclaim when it ran November 6 – December 11. Starting Christmas Night, December 25, eight evening-length shows featuring 15 outstanding artists and bands will begin. You can purchase the festival bundle which gives you access to all 8 shows, or you can purchase individual show tickets. For schedule and ticket information, visit Big Ears Festival: Norwegian Digital Jazz Festival.

New Nordic Appetizers for a New Year (Sunday, December 27, 1:30-3:30 p.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim to ring in the New Year with some New Nordic Cuisine inspired appetizers! Celebrated chef, cookbook author, food historian, and “Nordic Food Geek”, Patrice Johnson will demonstrate creative takes on classic appetizers, plus meatball canapes, a dessert, and a cocktail. She will also discuss classic Nordic recipes for gravlax, potato patties, and add some of her own Northern flavors. Enrollment deadline is December 20, 2020. For more information and to register, click here.

An extra/ordinary Holiday in Extraordinary Times (ongoing until January 10)

The American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, MN, invites you to enjoy this virtual exhibition and video. Winding through ASI’s courtyard and the Mansion grounds, the Nordic story trail is an outdoor experience with story stations designed by community partners from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland telling five popular tales. From Sweden, come the timeless stories by author Astrid Lindgren about the playful Pippi Longstocking. In Denmark, a classic story by Hans Christian Andersen about a little fir tree encourages us to live in the moment. In Iceland, a gift of clothing protects children from the legend of the Yuletide cat. Across Finland, arctic foxes run over the frozen tundra, sparking fires that light up the sky. For Norway, storytelling is explored through song and nisse, the mythological protector of farms. View more information about each of the tales from these Nordic countries at the exhibition page.


Ongoing Special Events

Virtual Cinema: Out Stealing Horses (Norway)

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues to host a virtual cinema presentation of Out Stealing Horses, a film based on the award-winning novel by Norwegian author Per Petterson. Immediately following the film there is a pre-recorded discussion between Stellan Skarsgård and filmmaker Hans Petter Moland. Half of the proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.

Virtual Cinema: A White, White Day (Iceland)

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, is also hosting a virtual cinema presentation of the hit Icelandic film A White, White Day with Film Movement. A White, White Day is an emotionally complex exploration of the ravages of loss set across the hypnotic landscape of Iceland. Half of the proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.


Which December events or experiences sound interesting to you? God jul!

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