May 2017: Los Angeles Culture Challenge & Norwegian May 17th Celebrations

May is a big month for Norwegians worldwide. We celebrate our national day, Constitution Day, on May 17. On that day in 1814, Norway signed its constitution while it was still in a union with Sweden. The union with Sweden wasn’t dissolved until 1905. 17th of May celebrations worldwide are characterized by parades, traditional costumes, flags, and ice cream.

Here in Los Angeles, Norwegians can commemorate the day with a traditional celebration on the actual date of May 17 at the Norwegian Church in San Pedro (details here). Or, if making it to San Pedro midweek is tough, there’s the annual Sunday celebration at Nansen Field in Rolling Hills Estates on May 21 (see details below).

But there’s more to May than Norway’s national day. Angelenos can take advantage of many special events and activities featuring a variety of countries and cultures. How will you explore the richness of Los Angeles this month?

* WEEKEND OF MAY 6 & 7 *

Cinco de Mayo Celebration, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, Olvera Street, Downtown LA, Friday, 5/5, through Sunday, 5/7. Celebrate Mexico’s victory over French forces in Puebla, Mexico, in 1862, with popular and traditional music, exhibitor booths, dancing, and food. The party has been going on at this site every Cinco de Mayo for 140 years.

REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival, Walt Disney Concert Hall Complex, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/6, & Sunday, 5/7. Don’t miss the last weekend of the annual REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival. It’s a weekend full of adventurous short-film programs that will appeal to moviegoers of all ages. Magical, exhilarating works made by acclaimed filmmakers and up-and-coming auteurs showcase work from around the globe — including Mexico, Brazil, Sweden, Russia, Taiwan, Belarus, Korea, The Netherlands, and Ukraine — to inspire the whole family. Festival highlights include the latest in both live action and animated shorts. See website for the schedule.

Cinco de Mayo Maracas, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Saturday, 5/6, & Sunday, 5/7, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 pm. Maracas came from the indigenous tribes in Latin American. This fun instrument is now used in other parts of the world, including Mexico. They were originally made out of gourds, seeds, and pebbles. Modern maracas can be made out of wood, metal, and plastic. Come visit Bowers Museum’s Art Studio where children can designs their own maracas made out of recycled materials. Activity is included with Kidseum admission, $8 for everyone over the age of 2 years old.

The Undiscovered Chinatown Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/6, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 2 1/2 hour walking tour will take visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A’s Chinatown. You must RSVP as group size is limited. This tour is offered every first Saturday of the month.

Peru: Inca Feathered Textiles (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 5/7, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. A different culture and media are featured each Sunday.

Celebrate Israel Festival, Cheviot Hills Recreation Center, West Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/7, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. This year’s theme is Jerusalem: 50 Years of Reunification. The festival will give attendees the opportunity to visit various sites of Jerusalem, learn about the Old City, and travel back in time to learn about the history of Jerusalem. Attendees are encouraged to stop in the different pavilions throughout the park and meet the many organizations that will be offering hands–on projects and activities for the entire family. The day’s activities and events include musical performances, an artist marketplace, a kids zone and a teen area, an amusement park with rides, and food vendors serving traditional food and “street fare” (all 100% Kosher).

Eye on African Art (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/7, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, see outstanding masks, sculptures, and textiles, and learn about the symbolism and importance of vision and in African art in the exhibition The Inner Eye: Vision and Transcendence in African Arts. In workshops, make your own art inspired by the exhibition.

Renaissance Pleasure Faire, Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, Irwindale, Saturdays & Sundays, ongoing until May 21. Travel back to the 16th century and experience the glory of life during the Renaissance era. The faire provides “a cornucopia of diversity where we are unified in inviting our guests to enjoy an environment we have created to escape from the stresses and demands of the modern day.” There will be artisans of all media, entertainment galore, food trucks and booths, games and rides (including pony and camel rides), a Kids Kingdom (with games, crafts, story-telling, song, shows, and characters), and a gnome quest!

Roman Holidays, The Getty Villa, Malibu, Saturdays & Sundays, ongoing until September 3. You won’t need a passport to travel back in time at the Roman Holidays celebration this spring and summer. Discover the sights (and smells!) of ancient Rome, offer your prayers to Venus, read your future in a sheep’s liver, and enjoy live musical and comedy performances by the historically hysterical Troubadour Theater Company.

* WEEKEND OF MAY 13 & 14 *

The Undiscovered Chinatown Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/13, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. This is an additional tour held in conjunction with China Week. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 2 1/2 hour walking tour will take visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. Be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A’s Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes. You must RSVP as group size is limited.

Origami with Ruthie Kitagawa: Floral Cards, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/13, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Learn to make a floral card just in time for Mother’s Day. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Supplies and admission to museum are included. Limited to 10 participants. RSVP here.

Austria: Gustav Klimt Tree of Life Printmaking for Mother’s Day (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 5/14, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. A different culture and media are featured each Sunday.

Eye on African Art (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/14, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, see outstanding masks, sculptures, and textiles, and learn about the symbolism and importance of vision and in African art in the exhibition The Inner Eye: Vision and Transcendence in African Arts. In workshops, make your own art inspired by the exhibition.

Family Jam: Storytelling with Dena Atlantic, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 5/14, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Storyteller Dena Atlantic will delight with interactive tales from around the world, including stories of the Trickster Spider Anansi from West Africa.

* WEEKEND OF MAY 20 & 21 *

Ancient Egypt: Cartouche and Painted Deities (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 5/21, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. A different culture and media are featured each Sunday.

Norwegian Constitution Day FestivitiesParade time at Nansen Field, Nansen Field, Rolling Hills Estates, Sunday, 5/21, 11:00 a.m. This is a true Norwegian celebration. It is a relaxing, laid-back event on a huge open field. The field opens at 9:30am and the program kicks off at 10:50am with the hoisting of the American and Norwegian flags. Program highlights include a Norwegian 17th of May church service and a 17th of May speech. Then there’s a parade led by a marching band followed by the sale of traditional Norwegian 17th of May foods such as hot dogs, hamburgers, Solo, waffles, and ice cream. There are also vendor stalls with Norwegian goods and plenty of games and prizes for the kids. Read about our celebrations at Nansen Field last year here.

Eye on African Art (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/21, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, see outstanding masks, sculptures, and textiles, and learn about the symbolism and importance of vision and in African art in the exhibition The Inner Eye: Vision and Transcendence in African Arts. In workshops, make your own art inspired by the exhibition.

Kids in the Courtyard: African-Print Fashion Tomorrow!, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Sunday, 5/21, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Come for a day of activities celebrating the colorful and rich designs in African-Print Fashion Now! Families can create accessories from patches of African-print and enjoy family-focused guided tours of the exhibition. Finally, enjoy a showcase of artwork by fashion students in the high school arts program artworxLA, inspired by the exhibition.

* WEEKEND OF MAY 27 & 28 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/27, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Relive history and learn about present-day Little Tokyo with JANM docents. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Weather permitting. Buy tickets in advance. RSVP here. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants.

Scottish Fest, Orange County Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa, Saturday, 5/27, & Sunday, 5/28. Enjoy a festival of Celtic entertainment and food. There will be competitions in Piping & Drumming, Highland Dancing, and Scottish Athletics as well as a full schedule of entertainment.

 

Valley Greek Festival, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Northridge, Saturday, 5/27, Sunday, 5/28, & Monday, 5/29. Enjoy a cultural experience for all ages with live music, dancing, gourmet food, homemade pastries, cooking demonstrations, children’s activities, a Greek market, and a variety of shopping boutiques.

Eye on African Art (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/28, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, see outstanding masks, sculptures, and textiles, and learn about the symbolism and importance of vision and in African art in the exhibition The Inner Eye: Vision and Transcendence in African Arts. In workshops, make your own art inspired by the exhibition.

Feel free to add events for this month in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have suggestions about future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me the details. Thank you!

Hipp Hipp Hurra for Norge: 17th of May Celebrations at Nansen Field in Los Angeles (2016)

Doobie & SonnyNorway’s National Day snuck up on us this year even though it was on our calendar. We didn’t decide to attend the festivities at Nansen Field until the evening before. The next morning we rallied the troops, dug out our Norwegian flags (and once again remembered we need new ones for next year), and headed down to Rolling Hills Estates, about a 30-minute drive south of Los Angeles.

We arrived just in time. They had just started playing the national anthems and were raising the flags of the United States and Norway. We found a spot next to friends of ours and listened to greetings from Honorary Consul of Norway in Los Angeles, a sermon by the pastor of the Norwegian Seaman’s Church in San Pedro, and the traditional 17th of May speech.

17th of May CeremonyIt didn’t take long for Sonny and Doobie to head off to the open soccer goal on the huge empty field. But it also didn’t take long until they were overrun by little kids and their parents and had to abdicate the goal.

Photo courtesy of Sonny

Photo courtesy of Sonny

Something new to me this year that I really enjoyed and thought added greatly to the festive feel of the day were the musical performances. Continue reading

Celebrating the Norwegian Constitution’s 200th Anniversary

We pretty much overdosed on Norwegian culture this past weekend when we celebrated Norway’s Constitution Day. Maybe that’s par for the course since it was the 200th anniversary of the constitution. (A fact we learned, it’s the oldest constitution in Europe and the second oldest in the world after USA’s!) Every year there are two main events in the Los Angeles area to celebrate the Norwegian holiday. The first one is always on the actual day of May 17th at the Norwegian Church in San Pedro, and the other one is on the closest Sunday at Nansen Field in Rolling Hills Estates. We’ve never attended both in one year, but this year we did, and they were one right after the other!Nansen Field parade

The celebration at the Norwegian Church has traditionally been hard for us to attend since it means driving to San Pedro, about 30 miles away, on a weekday after school for a 5 o’clock event. After-school activities, sports, homework, and traffic have made that close to impossible. But this year, the seventeenth of May fell on a Saturday so many of the factors prohibiting us from going in the past were a non-issue this year. I seized the opportunity. As did over 500 other people! It was the biggest gathering ever. Continue reading

Celebrating Norway’s Constitution Day

For me, celebrating Norway’s 17th of May in Los Angeles began by vicariously experiencing it through pictures posted on Facebook by Norwegian friends. I woke up to a newsfeed filled with bold and bright Norwegian flags, happy families dressed in beautiful bunads, and smiling kids in parades. It was a lovely start to the day and I much appreciated them sharing their celebrations!

(Photos courtesy of M. Eriksen, E. Strøm-Gundersen, and S. Mjeldheim)

(Photos courtesy of M. Eriksen, E. Strøm-Gundersen, and S. Mjeldheim)

Ideally, I would have attended the festivities at the Norwegian Seamen’s Church in San Pedro that day. It’s a simple celebration with traditional foods (hot dogs, waffles, and Solo are our favorites), a parade around the block waving flags and singing, speeches, and fun and games for the kids. And let’s not forget the ice cream! But this year, “17. mai” fell on a Friday and the kids had after-school commitments until 5 o’clock. The idea of driving in Friday afternoon traffic to San Pedro was unfathomable.

Moods of Norway LA infoSo I had to find an alternate way to mark the day. I had seen that the store Moods of Norway was having a celebration. I was intrigued. Continue reading