It’s with mixed feelings that I observe the shift from virtual back to in-person events. These last couple of years I’ve discovered many amazing new-to-me Nordic institutions around the country and participated in cooking and crafting classes, watched film screenings and listened to concerts, and attended author talks, book club meetings, and lectures that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. Now, the variety and frequency of such virtual opportunities is decreasing as in-person events are returning, but luckily there’s still much to share.
While many institutions are cutting back on virtual events, I do want to highlight two institutions and a particular area of interest that are continuing strong with virtual events: Vesterheim, the National Norwegian-American Museum & Folk Art School, in Decorah, Iowa; the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota; and book clubs around the country! Visit Vesterheim and ASI for information on their offerings, many of which fill up fast. For upcoming book selections by online book clubs, visit my page to see if there’s a Nordic book you’d be interested in reading and discussing with fellow reading enthusiasts.
On the topic of the return to in-person events, this fall Southern Californians will see the triumphant return of the family friendly Vista Viking Festival. California’s premiere Viking festival and Norse heritage event takes place September 17 and 18 just north of San Diego. Visitors can mingle with Vikings and the Norse gods at the living history Viking Village, play and craft in the KidZone, splurge on Nordic goods at the marketplace, learn all things Norwegian with cultural demonstrations, indulge in festive foods and drinks, and enjoy live entertainment including the Viking band KRAUKA, straight out of Denmark. Will you be there?
This Labor Day Weekend, take advantage of the last discount opportunity and save 10% by buying your tickets with promo code LABORDAY (through midnight 9/5). Buy tickets here.
What’s on your calendar for September?
Demo: Swedish Breakfasts (Thursday, September 8, 1:00 p.m. CT)
Swedish breakfasts capture many traveler’s imaginations; whether you stay in a home or at a hotel, you’re sure to get a selection of open-faced sandwich ingredients as well as cold or hot cereals, juice, fruit and more. These spreads are not complicated to put together, but it can be helpful to have a formula ready to go for both casual mornings and more elaborate hosted affairs. Nordic Table coordinator Erin Swenson-Klatt will share her go-to Swedish breakfast table collections and a few simple recipes to deck out a perfect frukost buffet in this virtual class inspired by the exhibit, The Morning Dip.
Nordic Spirit Classics’ Second Friday Series—Trolls: A Retrospective: “Trolls of the Millennium” (Friday, September 9, 7:30 p.m. PT)
Britte Rasmussen Marsh, writer, educator, and researcher from Portland, Oregon, returns live for her fourth and final retrospective presentation on trolls. As Scandinavian immigrants set sail for new beginnings on the North American continent, so too do their troll stowaways. Trolls globalized and commercialized in the new Contemporary Era. Sometimes their shape and form resurged as nostalgically Nordic, other times they were redefined to reflect the cultural landscape of changing times. In any case, trolls dispersed along with the rapid expansion of media and found their germination through film, sculpture, marketing, gaming, and the arrival of the Internet Age. What does it mean now to be a 21st century troll? Why do trolls still resonate across demographics, and what’s next? Participation is free, but you must register to receive the link.
Nordic Book Club: The Last Wild Horses: A Novel by Maja Lunde (Tuesday, September 13, 6:00 p.m. ET, Free)
Read and discuss Scandinavian literature in translation as part of Scandinavia House’s online Nordic Book Club. Each month they select a novel from some of the best Nordic literary voices. On September 13, they’ll be discussing The Last Wild Horses by Norwegian author Maja Lunde, out in translation by Diane Oatley. Maja Lunde’s heart-wrenching new tale, set in the distant past and the dystopian future, explores extinction and survival, family and hope.
National Danish Book Club Series: Justine by Iben Mondrup (Tuesday, September 13, 5:00 p.m. PT, Free)
Explore a selection of Danish literature in English translation with this nationwide book club. Each month a celebrated Danish author is selected and discussed in a virtual setting via Zoom and YouTube. This month’s selection is Justine by Iben Mondrup in translation by Kerri A. Pierce. “A personal meditation on artistic identity, the creative process, and the male-dominated art scene, the novel veers between the erotic and the savage, resulting in a spellbinding read from one of Denmark’s edgiest contemporary feminist writers.”
October Family Norwegian Language Adventure: Vikinger og Mytologi with Evelyn Galstad (Register by September 16)
Join Vesterheim for some family fun and learn some Norwegian language and culture 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 treat. The theme for October is Vikings and Mythology. These videos and activities are geared towards all ages, but most appropriate for families with school-age children.
New Nordic Tapas and Cocktails with Patrice Johnson (Saturday, September 17, 4:00-5:30 pm CT)
Join the self declared “Nordic Food Geek” Patrice Johnson and throw a Nordic-inspired cocktail party that will dazzle your friends! Inspired by seasonal, local, and tasty New Nordic trends, you’ll spend a happy hour together preparing small bites that pair with aquavit and tasty cocktails/mocktails.
Swedish Princess Cake with Kristi Bissell (Sunday, September 18, 1:00 pm CT)
Swedish Princess Cake is a showstopper of a dessert but can be an intimidating project for a home baker. Fear no more! Join Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen and learn how to make a foolproof Swedish Princess Cake at home. Kristi will walk you through the process step-by-step so that you can confidently make this gorgeous Scandinavian cake in your own kitchen. This class is currently sold out but you can be added to the waitlist.
Virtual Book Talk: The Viking Heart by Arthur Herman (Tuesday, September 20, 7:00 p.m. ET, Free)
This September, join Scandinavia House for a new virtual book talk on The Viking Heart: How Scandinavians Conquered the World with Arthur Herman, a New York Times historian and Pulitzer Prize finalist. In a follow-up to his 2021 talk at Scandinavia House on the book’s release, Arthur Herman returns to discuss themes that have gained new relevance over the past year — including recent archeological discoveries regarding the Viking legacy, Finland and Sweden’s application to join NATO, and the Viking context to the Marvel film Thor: Love and Thunder.
Virtual Book Talk: W. A Novel by Steve Sem-Sandberg with Saskia Vogel (Sunday, September 21, 2:30 p.m. ET, Free)
On September 21, August Prize-winning Swedish novelist Steve Sem-Sandberg and translator Saskia Vogel join Scandinavia House for a virtual discussion on W. A Novel, out on June 28 from The Overlook Press. They’ll discuss the writing and translation of this new literary reimagining of one of modern literature’s touchstone texts, the play Woyzeck.
Vesterheim Bokprat: Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder (Wednesday, September 21, 7:00 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, discussing Scandinavian authors and Scandinavian life. Join in September to discuss Sophie’s World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy by Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder. This page-turning novel is also an exploration of the great philosophical concepts of Western thought and has fired the imagination of readers all over the world with more than twenty million copies in print.
ASI Demo: Easy Kanelbullar (Thursday, September 22, 1:00 p.m. CT)
Get ready for kanelbullendag (Cinnamon Bun Day) on October 4 by watching how Kristi Bissell of True North Kitchen completes all the hands-on steps for a batch of easy Swedish cinnamon buns in just an hour. Kristi will use multiple batches of dough to demonstrate how to mix and knead the sweet yeasted dough, prepare the cinnamon filling, shape a pre-risen batch of dough into the typical knots, and bake the buns until golden brown. Students will leave with the recipe and lots of tips, inspired to bake their own batch of buns at home!
The Morning Dip Virtual Exhibit Tour (Tuesday, September 27, 5:00-5:45 p.m. CT)
Unable to explore the American Swedish Institute in person? Discover featured exhibitions The Morning Dip: Photography by Peggy Anderson and Birger Sandzén: Distant Horizons through a live, virtual tour led by an ASI educator. Get up close with Peggy Anderson’s large-format photos and Birger Sandzén’s captivating paintings while hearing stories of the artists’ techniques and their artwork. Have the opportunity to ask ASI educators all your questions about these exhibitions.
Symbols in Bandweaving: The Emojis of Traditional Handcraft (Wednesday, September 28, 7:00-8:00 pm CT, Free)
Join folk artist Kathleen Almelien for a webinar exploring the symbols used in bandweaving, the “emojis” of their time. Woven bands played an important role in traditional Norwegian clothing. Used to close or support clothing (the way we use zippers, buttons, and snaps), they also added beauty and interest to clothing. Additionally, the symbols woven into the band communicated that the person came from a particular area of Norway and imbued the band with meaning to the wearer. Almelien will highlight her own bands as well as those in Vesterheim’s collection and will draw parallels with the symbols used in other traditional Norwegian handcrafts. This program is free of charge. Registration is required.
Nordiska’s Book Club: Ronia (Thursday, September 29, 6:00 p.m. PT)
Nordiska, a boutique specializing in Nordic-inspired goods and gifts in Poulsbo, WA, hosts its own book club for fellow Nordic reading enthusiasts to connect and be in community with one another virtually. They invite you to expand your Nordic reading repertoire and discuss a variety of written works with them the last Thursday of each month. For September’s meeting, they will be reading Ronia, The Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren translated from the Swedish by Patricia Crampton. Receive 15% off your purchase of the book at Nordiska’s website by using the code “bookclub22”.
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.