Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Stunning Lofoten Wedding

Jakob Granqvist / Nordica Photography
Have you seen the stunning wedding photos featured on The Huffington Post and NRK? It showcases why Norway’s natural beauty makes for a breathtaking backdrop for a wedding. Check out the photos of couple Sirena and Eric’s September wedding in the Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway. Photographs were taken by Nordica Photography. 

Jakob Granqvist / Nordica Photography

Friday, December 12, 2014

J.Crew in Norway

American retailer J.Crew goes on location around the world for its style guides and catalogs. The brand photographed its Holiday 2014 Style Guide in Hardanger, Norway. J.Crew is known for mixing colors, patterns and styles—and this style guide is no exception. It has curated a selection of stylish cold-weather gear including colorful sweaters and outerwear, with touches of sparkle and plaid.

Travel notes about Norway and the Hardanger region are sprinkled throughout:“The region is known for its lush valleys, majestic mountains and one really long fjord (the Norwegian term for a narrow channel of water). The Hardangerfjord, created from melting glaciers over 10,000 years ago, stretches over 100 miles long.” 

Norwegian company Frost Media produced the photo shoot, which took place in August. Check out this behind-the-scenes photo from the shoot.

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Norway's Nobel Past

Every December, all eyes are on Oslo as the Norwegian royal family and Norwegian society gathers for the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony. The tradition dates back to the early 1900s. Did you know that Alfred Nobel was actually from Sweden? In Viking’s December issue, we look into the life of Alfred Nobel and several theories why his will states that the Prize must be awarded in Norway.

Looking for more information? The Norwegian Nobel Institute was founded in 1904 to aid the Nobel Committee in selecting a Laureate. In addition to extensively researching each nominee, the Institute hosts seminars and conferences on peace-related topics throughout the year. The library housed within the institute stocks resources on war and peace throughout history.

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded in Oslo City Hall on
Dec. 10, 2014. Watch the lectures and award ceremony at For more information on Nobel’s life, check out this timeline. 

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Friday, December 5, 2014

NATB 2014: Another Successful Year!

As you probably know, last week was Sons of Norway’s 30th Annual Nordic American Thanksgiving Breakfast. It was a morning filled with fun and fellowship as our MC, Don Shelby and guest speakers  Andrew Zimmern, Kevin Kling, and Reverend Ruth MacKenzie shared inspiring stories about freedom, faith, family & friendship. If that weren't enough, the audience was treated to some amazing musical selections from the Gustavus Adolphus Choir as well.

This year Sons of Norway welcomed an audience of nearly 1,000 people, which is quite a feat considering doors opened at 6:30 am on a Tuesday. But that really stands as a testament to the dedication of all the attendees and the organizations who worked together to make this the best event it could be.

What’s even better news is that the event raised nearly $15,000 for two Minnesota-based charities that support communities in need throughout the state. Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of our attendees, the Minnesota Military Family Foundation and Second Harvest Heartland can continue in their respective missions by providing assistance to those in need across Minnesota.

With that, Sons of Norway has wrapped up another great Thanksgiving Breakfast and is looking forward to making the 31st annual event even bigger and better than ever! Big thanks to this year’s speakers, all the attendees who woke up early and made this a morning to remember and, of course, to all the individuals and organizations who worked together in making this year’s event such a success!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sweet Photo Shoot

Looking for a good way to spend quality family time and spread holiday cheer this season? Get together in the kitchen with loved ones and bake! We at Viking magazine were in the holiday spirit earlier this fall as we planned our holiday cookie photo shoot. Check it out on page 20 of the December 2014 issue.

Choosing which cookie recipes to feature was no easy task. We looked to two of our favorite Scandinavian cookbooks, The Great Holiday Baking Book,” by Beatrice Ojakangas and Scandinavian Christmas, by Trine Hahnamann. Read on for a peek behind the scenes of the photo shoot.

What: Viking’s Holiday Cookie Photo Shoot
When: October 8, 2014
Where: Blue Ox Studios, Minneapolis
Photographer: Tom Thulen
Food styling: Betsy Nelson

8-10:30 a.m. — Bake cookies on site at the studio
10:30-11:30 a.m., Cut out gingerbread cookies, set up lighting equipment
11:30 a.m-1 p.m. — Place oat and cranberry-orange cookies on set and take photos (seen on pages 22-23)
1-3 p.m. — Frost gingerbread cookies and take photos (seen on page 20)

Before the shoot, we planned the layout.

Cutting out letters using gingerbread dough

Food stylist Betsy Nelson icing the cookies

A view of the opening shot

Cranberry-orange cookies!

The layout coming together on screen

Looking for more cookie recipes? Don't forget to check out Sons of Norway's Recipe Box. 

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Imitation Game

This holiday weekend, a new suspense film hits the big screens in the United States. “The Imitation Game,” comes out on November 28. Did you know that Norwegian director Morten Tyldum worked on the film? You may recognize Tyldum’s name from directing “Headhunters.” He’s now one of Norway’s talented directors that’s making his way into Hollywood.

“The Imitation Game” stars Benedict Cumberbatch as a British genius who helps crack the German Enigma Code that helped Allies win WWII. Keira Knightley plays a gifted cryptanalyst.

Read about the Oscar buzz the film is already garnering from Variety magazine and Aftenposten. Tyldum could be the first Norwegian to win an Oscar for Best Director. Check out the official trailer here:

Monday, November 24, 2014

Repeat Victory for Carlsen

Photo: Vladimir Barsky
Over the weekend, Norwegian chess phenom Magnus Carlsen defended his title as World Chess Champion at the 2014 World Chess Championship in Sochi, Russia. He defeated India’s Viswanathan Anand in the 11th round with a final score of 6.5- 4.5.

Carlsen started playing chess at the age of 5 and quickly turned heads worldwide. He became an International Grandmaster at the age of 13. Check out Viking’s September 2013 issue where we featured Carlsen as one of our “Young Norwegians to Watch.”

Learn more about the championship’s results and press conference videos. Follow Carlsen on Twitter and Facebook. 

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Making of a "Charticle"

Have you ever heard of a “charticle?” In the magazine biz, it’s a term we use for an infographic. Essentially it’s a hybrid of a “chart” and “article.” In the November 2014 issue of Viking magazine, we had the opportunity to execute a full-page charticle on Nordic stars as part of our “Cinema Scandinavia” feature. Check it out on page 20.

Charticles can be powerful attention grabbers that communicate information in a visually appealing way. Plus, they are very fun, yet sometimes challenging, to execute! Our “Cinema Scandinavia” feature highlights the crossover between the American and Scandinavian film industries. While researching for the story, I found myself writing down names of Norwegian actors and directors and linking them to actors in Hollywood that they are working with. And the idea for a charticle was born!

To properly executive a charticle, it takes lots of collaboration between an editor and art director. And thankfully, I have a terrific partner in Viking’s art director, Amy Armato. This particular charticle was months in the making. From my first hand-drawn version (see picture below) created in late June to the final days of sending the November issue to the printer in late September, it was a fun and challenging task—lots of drawing, erasing, collaborating, editing, fact checking, designing, more erasing, more designing and more proofreading. Whew!

Here’s a peek at how our “Nordic Stars” charticle from Viking’s November issue was created.

The hand-drawn version: June 20
An initial layout starting to take shape: September 5

Refining, editing, proofreading: September 16

The finished charticle! September 24

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

More With Eugenie Skilnand

In the November 2014 issue of Viking, we feature ballet dancer Eugenie Skilnand. She has been a member of the Norwegian National Ballet since 2000. Here’s more from the interview.

Q: How did you get involved with ballet? 
A: My father’s work moved my family to a very isolated place in Finland when I was around 3 years old, and my mother put me in a ballet class to get me to meet other kids my age. I was so shy, I would refuse to come out from underneath the piano the whole class, but at home I would show my mother everything the other kids did.  Since then I just always had to dance!

Q: What has been your greatest achievement as a dancer? 
A: The call from my first director offering me a contract as an apprentice with the Norwegian National Ballet was a big moment. It was the start of my life as a professional dancer. Other highlights include the first time I saw my name on the cast list in a solo part as Clara in “The Nutcracker,” my first title role as Cinderella and my return to stage after giving birth to my daughter.

Q: What are your future career goals? 
A: I have about six more years dancing with the company before I retire. The shame about being a dancer is that the older I get, the better my self-esteem gets, which makes me a better dancer. However, the extreme physicality a dancer needs, decreases with age. But I continue to work hard, and so far I still feel that my body is strong enough to handle it. I hope for some more soulful moments on stage!

Q: What are some of your hobbies? 
A: I love to relax at home with my husband and baby. Of course now with my 15- month-old daughter, there is less relaxing that I would like at times, but she also gives me a lot of extra energy! The weekends when I am not performing is sacred family time.

Photo: Erik Berg

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Norway: The World's Most Livable Country

Per Eide/
The Human Development Index by the United Nations Development Programme ranked Norway as the world’s most livable country. The data is based on three dimensions of human progress—having a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and having a good standard of living. A country’s income is a large factor in the ranking, and Norway has the world’s sixth highest gross national income per capita.

Here’s a look at the top 10 rankings:
1. Norway
2. Australia
3. Switzerland
4. The Netherlands
5. The United States
6. Germany
7. New Zealand
8. Canada
9. Singapore
10. Denmark

For more information, check out this article. 

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Holiday Gift Ideas

‘Tis the season for holiday shopping! In the November 2014 issue of Viking, we rounded up 25 Nordic-inspired gifts for the entire family. Here are a few more of our favorites.

Gather around the table and play Hnefatafl (nef-ah-tah-fel)—a chess-like game that is referred to in old Norse manuscripts.

Norwegian brand SWIMS offers shoes and outerwear for both men and women to keep you dry and fashionable. For the sporty guy on your list, we love the Luca Sneaker. 

Do you love hit television show “Vikings?” Watch for season 3 to premier on The History Channel in 2015. If you've never seen it, catch up with DVDs from season 1 and 2.

The Norwegian National Doll Costume is handmade by Debbie’s Doll Dresses and fits 18’’ or American Girl dolls.

The Pengus Beanie from Scandinavian children’s wear company Mini Rodini keeps little ones cute and cozy.  The brand is a favorite of celebrity kids.

The Iittala Lempi Glasses made from blow glass come in a 2 pack with color choices of blue, grey or purple.

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Modern Manager

In the November 2014 issue of Viking, we highlight savvy Norwegian businesswoman Anita Krohn Traaseth. In September, she started a new role as director for Innovation Norway. The busy business leader, author, blogger, wife and mother of three believes in a contemporary management style. Check it out on page 54, and read more from the interview below.

Q: How did your upbringing prepare you for leadership as an adult? 
A: I was given freedom and trust in my childhood. My parents were more concerned about developing character at an early age and being robust than striving for excellent grades. I was allowed to determine my own interests and was given responsibility at the age of 12 when I earned my first income picking strawberries and working for a local radio station. I was not introduced to the world of intellectuals, nor did I have expectations of how to define success. I have a working class background from the 1970s, where freedom and responsibility were key.

Q: It’s clear that you have a strong sense of style. What importance does self-presentation hold as you prepare for work each day? 
A: Well, for almost 15 years I dressed in a classic, dark corporate outfit with glasses and a ponytail. I was never very interested in defining my own style; I went with practical and standard. I had been trained not to create attention to anything but content (it was strange enough being an outspoken woman in a male-dominated environment). After I turned 40, I decided it was time to explore a more personal style by using colors and letting my hair down (which is blond and long, and that in itself can be a hindrance to being taken seriously in a very conservative business environment). Now, I don’t care too much. I know my track record, and I understand that you will never get everyone to like you. I like to dress classically, comfortably and feminine. I have started to try out new fashion and design—especially from Norwegian designers.

Q: What destination in Norway would you recommend to visitors? 
A: I would recommend all of Norway—from north to south and east to west! We can offer everything from sandy beaches in picturesque surroundings to year-round activities and sports in the mountains and fjords. We’re known for spectacular nature, but our biggest cities can also offer high quality entertainment, design, food and shopping. Small villages throughout our country boast unique, historical attractions and specialties. It all depends on what you, as a tourist, want to see, as we still have a variety of undiscovered destinations and experiences to offer.

Check out Anita Krohn Trasseth’s blog and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Harry Hole's Oslo

Jo Nesbø ©Niklas R. Lello
Looking for a new way to explore Oslo? Fans of Norway’s best-selling crime writer Jo Nesbø can take a guided tour of the city and follow in the footsteps of the author’s main protagonist Harry Hole. Tour guides will lead you through the streets of Oslo to places that Hole frequents.

The tour starts at the Best Western Karl Johan Hotell near Stortinget and continues on to locations such as Egertorget Square, Oslo Courthouse, St. Olavs Church, several restaurants and pubs and Royal Palace Park. Tours are available in both Norwegian and English.

For more on Jo Nesbø, check out our interview with him in the March 2013 issue of Viking and keep updated on his upcoming releases on his official website. 
Check out this video where the author talks about his protagonist Harry Hole.

Anya Britzius is editor of Viking magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, Minn., and enjoys baking, reading and keeping up on modern Norwegian trends.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Norway's Historic Hotels

Looking for a great hotel in Norway? Have a charming stay at one of the country’s wonderful historic hotels. With a storied past, many have been owned by the same family for generations and have attracted famous guests throughout the years. In the October 2014 issue of Viking, we feature five historic hotels. Read on for more hotel ideas, compiled by Viking writer Kara Eliason.

Anker Brygge 
Location: Northern Norway
Stay here to enjoy the Lofoten Islands, local fishing villages, the midnight sun and the northern lights.

Dalen Hotel 
Location: Southern Norway
If you’re looking for a bit of whimsy during your stay, this “fairytale hotel” features dragon heads, turrets and spires, and balconies.

Røisheim Hotell 
Location: Eastern Norway
This is a great destination for travelers who want to explore Jotunheimen, Norway's most popular national park. It’s a favorite hotel among mountain tourists.

Kronen Gaard Hotell 
Location: Western Norway
Built in 1898, the hotel’s Swiss chalet-style main house was a summer home for timber dealer Gabriel Block Watne. The hotel is known for its locally sourced food and scenic gardens.

Vertshuset Røros 
Location: Central Norway
This hotel is a great place to stay while visiting the Røros World Heritage site. The hotel kitchen uses quality, local ingredients when preparing meals for guests.

Bekkjarvik Gjestgiveri 
Location: Fjord Norway
Located on an island in the Austevoll municipality, Bekkjarvik Gjestgiveri has accommodated visitors for more than 300 years.

Location: Oslo
This hotel is located near the top of Holmenkollen, Norway's most visited tourist attraction and one of the world's most famous sporting arenas. It also features great cuisine and a well-stocked wine cellar.

Augustin Hotel 
Location: Bergen
It’s Bergen’s oldest family run hotel, and it features an impressive collection of contemporary Norwegian art.

Britannia Hotel 
Location: Trondheim
This is a great hotel for visitors who want to shop and sightsee. Opened in 1897, Britannia Hotel is called the “white swan” or the “pearl” of Trondheim.

Looking for more recommendations? De Historiske is a membership organization that includes 50 of Norway’s most charming hotels, plus 19 restaurants and two ships.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Congressman Erik Paulsen Visits Sons of Norway

Sons of Norway welcomed Congressman Erik Paulsen from Minnesota’s Third Congressional District to its headquarters in Minneapolis Tuesday, October 14. Intended to familiarize Representative Paulsen with the Sons of Norway’s story dating back nearly 120 years, the meeting focused on the ways in which the organization and its approximately 60,000 members across the US, Canada and Norway are making a difference in their communities.

Sons of Norway’s  CEO Eivind Heiberg, Fraternal Director Linda Pederson and Cultural Coordinator Anna Stoltenberg sat down with the Congressman in the Sons of Norway Board Room. As the Congressman admired the pictures of the 33 past Sons of Norway International Presidents, Heiberg outlined how the Fraternal Life Insurance Company provides financial protection, Norwegian cultural awareness, and charitable support through its Foundation.

Sons of Norway is a 501 (c)(8) tax exemption status, granted to fraternal benefit societies in the 20th century, which means that proceeds from the sale of financial products are used to support the organization’s fraternal and Foundation endeavors. With this in mind, Sons of Norway shared with the Congressman how the tax exempt status allows Sons of Norway to enhance the lives of its members and make a difference in their communities.  

Started by 18 Norwegian immigrants who wanted to protect one another in times of great hardship, Sons of Norway’s membership grew and so did the effort to uphold the Norwegian traditions in America. Today Sons of Norway is a thriving philanthropic organization supported by nearly 17,000 insurance certificates currently in force. The creation of the Sons of Norway Foundation (501(c)(3)) in 1966 meant that scholarships for educational exchange, grants for community cultural programming and humanitarian aid in times of great need could be offered in addition to the financial security and fraternalism already being provided to members.

Pederson emphasized the value of fraternal benefit societies by citing a recent study done by Phillip Swagel, a professor at the University of Maryland, which states that for every $1 the federal government invests, fraternal benefit societies produce $76 in value back to society. In 2013 alone, Sons of Norway members organized nearly 20,000 civic events, volunteered almost 400,000 hours and donated over $1,000,000 to their communities. Congressman Paulsen was captivated by stories of lodge events and fundraisers put on by members including a fundraising gala hosted by Vennekretsen Lodge in Anoka, MN, that raised over $65,000 for Hope 4 Youth, a local nonprofit that provides services for homeless youth.

Congressman Paulsen also spoke highly of the Nordic American Thanksgiving Breakfast, founded by Sons of Norway in 1985, which he has previously attended. Bringing together people of Nordic heritage to offer thanks for the privileges of freedom, faith, family and friends, the event gives guests an opportunity to give back to the community by supporting two local non-profits -  the Second Harvest Heartland and Minnesota Military Family Foundation.

Sons of Norway is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of its members, the communities it serves and the world in which we live. Congressman Paulsen posed with Heiberg and even agreed to take a selfie with Stoltenberg in order to post to NorwayConnects, Sons of Norway’s new website geared at bridging the gap between Norway and North America by connecting young adults with college, career, financial and cultural resources.