Saturday, December 31, 2011

Travel Tips from Harald Hansen

As we begin the new year, it’s time to starting thinking about 2012 travel plans. We hope the January issue of Viking—our annual travel issue—will inspire you to set out on your own Nordic dream adventure. We've packed the issue with advice from travel experts, including Innovation Norway's Harald Hansen. You’ll find our interview in the January issue, and you can read the extended conversation here:

Viking: What new attractions are drawing tourists to Norway?
Harald Hansen: The traditional attractions and destinations have, of course, been Oslo, Bergen and the fjords—and still remain so. We see also that more and more Americans are visiting further north and south of Bergen to the Stavanger area and to the Ålesund region. There’s increasing popularity to visit northern Norway above the Arctic.

V: What's drawing people there?
HH: Arctic experiences—they want to see the Northern Lights and the winter. They want to see the Midnight Sun and do more of a soft-adventure type of vacation. That’s something we see all over Norway actually—hiking, biking, dog sledding, snowmobiling and king crab safaris.

V: Are there any new trends in Norwegian travel? Do you recommend any smart phone apps or websites?
HH: We recommend our website, We are on Facebook and Twitter. And in all the advertising we do, we put up apps where you use your cell phone to get onto our website. More people are using the new apps to get information. Check out our Visit Norway app. We’ve just been doing an advertising campaign with Iceland Air and Scandinavian Air the past year, where we have billboards up on bus stops on subways and trains, where people use their iPhones to enter a competition, or just to access information. So it's becoming more and more important for us to use all the new gadgets that are out there.

V: Do you have any money-saving travel tips to share?
HH: A lot of people think that Norway is very expensive. It is expensive compared to the United States or Canada, but there are ways to work around that. If you go to our website, you can look at the accommodations, and there’s a lot of hotel passes. For example, there's an excellent pass called the Fjord Pass where you can get up to 40 percent off hotel rates. And the same thing with train passes and bus passes. Norway bus express has its own pass, and there are ways of avoiding those high costs. Scandinavian Airlines and Iceland Air are always running specials. It’s important to follow that. Be active and be online to find deals. We put out all of those offers on our website. Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim now have city passes, which gives you free entrance to all attractions and museums, free public transportation within the cities, even reductions on restaurants and sightseeing. That is something you should always look into and either talk to your tour operator or travel agent. Or buy it when you get to Norway. They are sold at tourist information offices, so it's not something you necessarily have to purchase ahead of time.

V: Are the Northern Lights a big draw?
HH: Yes, the Northern Lights are the most popular attraction in the world for travelers now. And Norway is the best place to see it. This year is actually the best cycle in 50 years to see them!

V: What are some of the top sites to see?
HH: The Oslo Opera House opened three years ago and has become the most visited attraction in Norway. You can walk up on the roof. The Opera House is actually built into the fjord, like an iceberg. The roof is made of white marble, so you can walk all over it and there are restaurants there. In addition to housing the National Opera and Ballet, it has also become a place where people meet up and sun bathe up on the roof. In the summer, they have rock concerts and set up stages out on the fjord where people sit on the opera house itself and the performances are on floats out in the fjord. The new Holmenkollen Ski Jump has also become a very popular destination. In February, Oslo will host the world championship in snowboarding, which is a big attraction for Americans. And 2013 is the 150th anniversary for the birth of the painter Edvard Munch, so that's going to be a big deal.

V: Are there things to do with kids when visiting Norway?
HH: Yes! Go to the fjord region for some kayaking, hiking and biking. The Bergen Aquarium is very popular, and there is the new science center called VilVite. Of course the funicular and the cable car overlooking Bergen are cool. They have just opened up a new restaurant up there which is a great experience. In Oslo, there’s the reptile park and the International Museum of Children’s Art. At the Noble Peace Center, you can learn the history of all the winners, and it’s very interactive so kids can use technology to learn about peace efforts. It’s a great center—one of my favorite places to go.

V: Is there a language barrier?
HH: Not a problem whatsoever. Everybody speaks English.

V: Anything you caution against while traveling?
HH: Not really. We are a pretty safe destination. Nobody has to be afraid of anything. But you always have to pay attention and be aware when you travel anywhere. We always say there's no bad weather, there's just bad clothing. When you travel in Norway—especially during the summer—bring a light raincoat, layers and be prepared for everything.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Eighth Annual Christmas Concert from Norway Broadcast in the U.S.

I love this time of year for so many reasons. Everyone is in a cheerful mood, despite the weather turning colder and the days darker, the world is adorned in colorful decorations that are straight out of a child's dream, and I get to share in the holiday cheer with my family and loved ones .

What I love most about this time of year, though, is the music. Ever since I was a child I've loved Christmas music, especially the traditional music of carols. Songs like Little Drummer Boy, O Holy Night, The First Noel, etc. always bring warm and welcome memories from the past.

That's why it's so exciting to announce the 2011 Christmas Concert from Norway! For the eighth year in a row the Vang church in Hamar, Norway is the home of a beautiful musical broadcast that brings together world-renowned singers and musicians to perform a concert of traditional holiday and classical music! This year, thanks to PBS and Public Broadcasting channels across America, millions of Americans will be taken into the historic church for this glorious musical event.

Viewers will be treated to an American Christmas music medley, works by Handel, Vivaldi, Morricone, Piazzolla and a number of traditional Norwegian songs. In addition, Princess Martha Louise, will host this year's concert and share Christmas memories from her childhood.

The concert is being broadcast in a number of cities throughout the U.S., like New York, Minneapolis, Miami, San Diego and more! I've included a broadcast schedule below, but if you don't see your city listed then make sure to check with your PBS station to see if they will be broadcasting the event. 

New York WLIW 21       
Sun. Dec. 25  10:00 AM

Los Angeles KCET  28         
Sat. Dec. 24    2:00 PM
Chicago WTTW 11         
Sat. Dec. 24   9:30 PM
San Francisco KRCB 22          
Tues. Dec. 20    9:00 PM

Washington WETA 26         
Sun. Dec. 25    2:00 PM
Phoenix KAET  8           
Fri. Dec. 23   11:00 PM                                              

Tampa WUSF 16         
Sat. Dec. 24    4:00 PM
Minneapolis KTCA 2            
Sat. Dec. 24    8:00 PM
Miami WLRN 17        
 Sat. Dec, 24    8:00 PM
Cleveland WEAO 49         
Sat. Dec. 24    8:00 PM

Orlando WDSC 15         
Fri. Dec. 23     8:00 PM
Raleigh Durham UNCMX           
Sat. Dec. 17    9:00 PM

San Diego KPBS  11         
Thurs. Dec. 22    11:00 PM

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Commemorating the Amundsen Expedition’s 100th Anniversary

If you were following our blog during the royal visit in October, you know that Sons of Norway recently partnered with the Honorary Royal Norwegian Consulate, Destination Bloomington and the Airport Foundation MSP to bring Cold Recall: Reflections of a Polar Explorer—an exhibit detailing Roald Amundsen’s historic South Pole expedition—to over 6 million travelers during its stay.

What you may not know is that the festivities surrounding Amundsen’s historic expedition have been underway for weeks. That’s right, almost 20 expeditions from around the world have been vying for a commemorative 100th anniversary arrival at the South Pole on December 14th. In fact, it is believed that this historic gathering will cause the number of people to reach the South Pole to double.

While some expedition teams seek to successfully retrace Amundsen’s route, others sought to follow the path of another famed, albeit ill fated, polar explorer Robert Falcon Scott. Other teams in the hunt for polar success had different milestones in mind like becoming the youngest person to reach the South Pole.

Which teams succeeded in their polar aspirations? Let’s take a closer look at a few of them.

Norway - While Norway’s expedition team succeeded in reaching the pole in time to celebrate the anniversary with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, two of the four skiers (Jan-Gunnar Winther and Stein P. Aasheim) had to be flown in. Olympian Vegard Ulvang and Harald Dag Jølle completed the trek on skis. To learn more and to read diary entries about the expedition, click here.

Australia – James Castrission (Cas) and Justin Jones (Jonesy) hope to set a new polar record by successfully walking from the edge of Antarctica and back unaided. Currently the two Australians are 408 kilometers from reaching their halfway mark, the South Pole. To track Cas and Jonesy’s daily progress and watch video of their expedition, click here.

Britain – A freelance travel writer, Felicity Aston was 100 miles from reaching the South Pole yesterday. Aston hopes to become the first woman to ski across Antarctica, a 1700-kilometer feat, alone. For more on Aston’s progress, click here.

Looking for a way to learn more about Amundsen’s historic polar expedition? Be sure to check out the latest stop of the Cold Recall: Reflections of a Polar Explorer exhibit at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle. Not in the Seattle area? Be sure to check out the exhibit in February at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma or in April at the University of North Dakota.

Norwegian Butter Drama Unfolds

The drama continues to unfold over Norway's butter shortage. Early reports of trouble appeared in the Norwegian media last month. A fat-rich, low-carb diet craze sweeping the country, combined with a year of below-average butter production, resulted in a demand 30 percent higher than average in November.

With butter prices going through the roof in Norway and a Russian butter smuggler caught with 90 kilos (that's nearly 200 pounds!) at the Swedish border last week, the crisis has become international news and great material for satire. "Saturday Night Live" featured the story on its Weekend Update and even The Colbert Report has picked up on the news.

The whole situation leaves many people wondering what creative solutions Norwegians will come up with to bake their traditional sju slags (seven types) of Christmas cookies. I've seen Facebook updates from friends in Norway who were making do with—believe it or not—margarine. Maybe I should point them toward the Recipe Box on the Sons of Norway website. Among recipes for such butterific holiday favorites as sandkaker and berlinerkranser, there's a recipe for Tiny Almond Pies, which actually calls for margarine instead of butter!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo by cyclonebill (Smør), via Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

An Interview With Mikkel Bang

This month we profiled Norwegian snowboarding sensation Mikkel Bang. The 21-year-old Oslo native is living his dream, jet setting around the world to find the freshest powder and compete on the pro circuit. You'll find the interview in the December issue of Viking, and you can read the rest of the conversation here:

Viking: Where do you live now, and what is life like as a professional snowboarder?
Mikkel Bang: I still live in Oslo. I stay at home and do my thing—skateboard, play music and work on house stuff. The season starts in December. I compete, film and travel until the beginning of May. Then I go where the snow is good—like Whistler. This year I have Burton as my main sponsor, and I'm in their movie "Standing Sideways." I didn’t get a chance to have a big part because I broke my ankle last January. I managed to get in a couple of tricks in though.

Viking: How do you feel about being on Team Burton and what's it like to have big companies sponsor you?
MB: They have given me the opportunity to travel around the world and have a job, which is pretty crazy. Snowboarding is not really a job to me because I enjoy it so much. I don’t take it for granted, and I’m really happy. The best part about being sponsored is that I get to see so many places.

Viking: What has been the hardest thing to overcome in your career?
MB: Injuries are always challenging. I think you need to get hurt to understand that some stuff is risky.

Viking: What are your career goals?
MB: I want to try to become a little bit more of a big mountain rider. I’ll still ride in contests as long as I’m able to do well.

Viking: Where are your favorite places in Norway and the world?
MB: There are so many beautiful places in the world—I don’t have one specific favorite. There’s a surfing spot on the West Coast of Norway called Stad. It’s probably one of my favorite places. There’s no phone reception—just beach and mountains. It’s not too warm, but it’s really beautiful and they have a really scenic route.

Viking: What are your other hobbies aside from snowboarding?
MB: I enjoy playing music with my friends. I like the guitar, bongo and drums. I really enjoy all kinds of music, especially classic rock and reggae.

Want to see Mikkel in action? Here’s a video of him catching some major air.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday Decorating: Inspired by Norwegian Nature

There's a rule in our house: No Christmas until after Thanksgiving. It came about, in part, because I'm a big fan of Thanksgiving and I don't want it to get lost in a jumble of Christmas preparations, shopping and media. But after the family has enjoyed some turkey leftovers, washed the last of the dishes and traveled safely back from Grandpa's house, we're ready to begin thinking about and decorating for Christmas.

I was looking for a little holiday inspiration in the December issue of Better Homes and Gardens yesterday when I came across an article that I think many Viking readers would enjoy. It's called "Natural Sparkle," produced by Paul Lowe. A food and prop stylist who was raised in Norway, Lowe said his work for this feature was inspired by the Norwegian winter light. "It's all blue and silvery, quite stunning," he writes in his blog. If you like what you see, there's good news: Lowe produces a quarterly digital magazine, called Sweet Paul.

Inspired to get crafty? Why not try these easy felted heart ornaments, featured in "Gifts from the Heart" in the November issue of Viking. Happy holiday decorating!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Snowman to become Scorsese Film

In the Viking summer reading guide (July, 2011), we featured Jo Nesbø's crime novel "The Snowman" as one of 15 recommended reads. Apparently we weren't the only ones excited about this book: Nesbø recently reached an agreement with acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese to bring his story to the screen.

Nesbø agreed to sell the film rights to his story on the condition that he could choose the director, he said recently in an interview with Norwegian newpaper Verdens Gang (VG). He gave his agent a list of 5 filmmakers, with Scorsese's name at the top. Nesbø has long been a fan of the filmmaker's work, since seeing his movie "Taxi Driver" when he was young, he told VG.

Nesbø says he won't dictate how the film is made, or who will play his protagonist, Inspector Harry Hole, although the Norwegian press has already begun to speculate. It's not a surprise that suggestions have included Scandinavian superstars Viggo Mortensen and Stellan Skarsgård, but even Bruce Willis and Russell Crowe made the list. If you're a Nesbø fan, I'd love to hear whom you would cast!

For the entire Viking recommended reading list, check out the July issue of Viking.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Alt for Norge: Season 3 Auditions

This just in--the producers for Norway's top-rated reality show, Alt for Norge, are looking for a new cast!

The program, which brings a group of people with Norwegian ancestry to explore Norway and compete for a cash prize, announced a call for auditions earlier this week. According to one person who is involved in the casting process, the show is looking for people who have a deep curiosity or passion for their Norwegian heritage, and want to have a life-changing adventure.

The casting call says the shoot dates are scheduled for late April through late June of next year. Last season’s contenders said everyone involved was there for at least two weeks before eliminations began.

This could be a great opportunity for Sons of Norway members, so consider auditioning yourself. If you're interested, click here for casting/audition information.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Queen Debuts as Visual Artist

Her Majesty Queen Sonja was back in the news recently, this time making her debut as a visual artist. The queen attended the official opening of the exhibition “Under Pressure: Master prints from Atelje Larsen," where eight of her own works are on display. The exhibition features 1,000 works by 80 artists, all produced at Atelje Larsen, one of the world's leading printmaking studios.

The purpose of the project is to raise starting capital for The Foundation for Her Majesty Queen Sonja's Art Award, which she established earlier this year to promote paper-based arts. You can read more about the show and the queen's foundation in a press release on the palace's website. And you can view the queen's work in this slideshow on the Aftenposten website. Aftenposten's readers gave Her Majesty mixed reviews, but I agree with those who applaud the queen for being a "modig kvinne"—a brave woman. With the whole country scrutinizing her talent, I think "Under Pressure" is the perfect name for this project. After all, creative risk-taking is never easy, even for a queen.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo: Rolf M. Aagaard, The Royal Court

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hagen's Role of a Lifetime

After editing an interview with Norwegian actor Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen in the November issue of Viking, I've become inordinately excited about the new "Kon-Tiki" movie, scheduled for release by Nordisk Film in July. Hagen's star is rising these days, thanks to his role as Roy Nilsen in the blockbuster "Max Manus" (2008) and his leading role of Jan Thomas in "Troubled Water" (2008). He now stars as Norway's famous explorer, Thor Heyerdal, who in 1947 led an expedition from Peru to Polynesia.

For a preview of the film, here's a behind-the-scenes look on YouTube. While the commentary is in Norwegian, I think non-Norwegian speakers also will enjoy taking a peek at the making of Norway's biggest film production to date, directed by Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning of "Max Manus" fame. You also can check out the film's Facebook page for more production footage and a teaser for the movie.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Nordic Food Day

Last week, 45,000 students in 125 of D.C.’s public schools found a very different type of meal on their school lunch tray: Nordic cured meats, pickled vegetables and fresh fruit.

These special Scandinavian meals were served as part of the DCPS International Food Program and a longstanding Embassy Adoption Program between the embassies of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and the D.C. Public Schools, with the goal of encouraging wholesome eating and sharing international cuisine.

On Nordic Food Day-the first of several planned international food days-students sampled Swedish meatballs, Norwegian salmon with dill sauce, roasted root vegetables and wasa crisp bread and lingonberry juice. The food was produced locally with the help of some of the world’s best chefs and donated by many Scandinavian businesses, including Ikea and a Norwegian fishing council.

The program’s cultural immersion doesn’t end with the food; students also enjoyed visits from six ambassadors, seven Scandinavian chefs, performances by four musicians and a special visit by HRH Prince Daniel of Sweden.

To learn more about Nordic Food Day or to see a slideshow of photos from the event, click here. To learn more about the benefits of a Scandinavian diet, check out the “New Nordic Cuisine” feature of the August issue of Viking magazine.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sights and Frights in Norway

Happy Halloween! In the spirit of the day, Visit Norway has provided some ideas for exploring the spooky side of Norway. You might try to spot Norway's most famous ghost at Trondheim's Nidaros Cathedral, learn about Bergen's history of witch burnings or check into a haunted hotel near Geiranger.

For more travel tips, stay tuned for the annual Viking travel issue, coming in January! We'll take readers on a tour to Telemark and explore art nouveau architecture in Ålesund. And we'll share what we've learned in our conversations with Scandinavian travel specialists, so that your Norwegian travel experience doesn't have to be scary!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Kim Joar.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Heartfelt Felt Hearts

Has your November issue of Viking arrived? When it does, you'll notice that the annual holiday gift guide has an alternative twist this year. "Gifts from the Heart" emphasizes simple gifts with special meaning, whether its a handmade item, a donation to a charitable cause or a heritage-inspired present.

Special thanks goes to my husband, Doug, and son, Halvor, who made the hand-felted heart ornaments featured on the November cover. You can make them, too! Check out Doug's step-by-step instructions here.

Looking for more heartfelt gift ideas? You'll find them in the November issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cold Recall Opens with a Royal Flourish

Tuesday of this week was a big day because it marked the official opening of a new exhibit, Cold Recall: Reflections of a Polar Explorer, at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja were on hand to kick off the exhibit in royal style.

The exhibit, which details Roald Amundsen’s historic expedition to the South Pole, is on display through November 14th and is expected to be viewed by more than 6 million visitors during its stay.
In addition to Their Majesties, the audience for the opening included modern polar explorers Will Steger, Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft, who each gave a presentation, and Sons of Norway CEO, Eivind Heiberg and International Board members. There's a great story about the event here and here.

This is the first time the exhibit has been shown in the United States and has been a project that Sons of Norway has been working on, in partnership with the Honorary Royal Norwegian Consulate, Destination Bloomington and the Airport Foundation MS, for a number of months.

If you are planning on traveling through the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport before November 14th, take a few minutes and detour to Concourse C to view the full exhibit in all its glory. If, however, you don't have any travel plans, you can view a PDF of the exhibit here. It's very informative and tells a story in Amundsen's own words about the reality of exploration in the early 20th century.

About the exhibit:
Norwegian Roald Amundsen led the historic featured expedition from 1910 to 1912. In addition to illustrating the challenges of arctic exploration in the early 20th Century, the display also provides a unique look at the daily lives of polar explorers. There is no admission charge for the exhibit; however it is located past the terminal’s security checkpoints, so access is limited to ticketed passengers.

The exhibit, purchased by the Royal Norwegian Embassy and on loan until November 14th, is being displayed as part of the airport’s Arts and Culture Program, which is administered by the Airport Foundation MSP, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing travelers’ airport experience. The exhibit was secured through with a partnership between the Honorary Royal Norwegian Consulate, Sons of Norway (a Norwegian-American fraternal life insurance organization dedicated to preserving Norwegian Heritage and Culture), Destination Bloomington and the Airport Foundation MSP. This is the first time the exhibit has appeared in the United States.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sons of Norway and the Royal Visit

As you may have heard, the last couple of days of the Royal visit to Minnesota have brought very big news for Sons of Norway.

On Sunday, at the Grand Dinner in Minneapolis, King Harald V gave a speech about his personal bonds to the United States and his fondness for the U.S. and Minnesota in particular. In that speech he actually took time to refer to Sons of Norway by name (the only organization specifically recognized in his speech). He said:
"And I am grateful to the Sons of Norway and the many other organizations that preserve Norwegian heritage and traditions. Norway looks to its Sons and Daughters in the United States as a bridge between our two cultures."

If that weren't exciting enough, the next day he went to Duluth for a rededication of Enger Tower, took time from his busy schedule to visit the Nortun Sons of Norway lodge! The lodge had spent much of the last year preparing for this event and spent $50,000 to update the lodge and get it ready for Their Majesties. During the invite-only event, King Harald V and Queen Sonja were treated to special remarks from our International President, Dan Rude and a musical performance by Arna Rennan. Then Their Majesites were escorted around the room and introduced to the 60 lodge and International Board members. In fact, if you click here, you can see video of His Majesty King Harald V, walking and talking with our International President as they arrived at the lodge.

There is also a great photo series, which can be found here, showing King Harald V and Sons of Norway officers/members together.

This was a very exciting event for Sons of Norway and its members in Duluth who worked so hard to make the event possible. If you know a member from Nortun lodge, make sure and congratulate them on their efforts!

Check back later for more about the Royal Visit and Their Majesties opening of the Cold Recall exhibit. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Royal Visit Continues

Here in Minnesota it's been a big week for Norwegian Americans. And it's not over yet!

Their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja arrived in the Twin Cities last Tuesday. Since then, the royal couple has wasted no time hitting many Norwegian hot-spots in the area, leaving goodwill and a bit of royal fever in their wake. The king and queen have visited three Norwegian-American colleges—Luther, St. Olaf and Augsburg—and Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa. They've even squeezed in a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. And on Sunday night they were the guests of honor at a banquet for 1,100 at the Minneapolis Hilton Hotel.

On Monday the king and queen will travel to Duluth for the rededication of Enger Tower, originally dedicated in 1939 by King Harald's father, who was then Crown Prince Olav V.

On Tuesday, before departing for New York, the king and queen will open an exhibit honoring Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen at the Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport. The exhibit, on loan from Oslo's Fram Museum, is called "Cold Recall: Reflections of a Polar Explorer," and will be on display for a month in the Concourse C gallery.

In a Minneapolis Star Tribune interview, Kim Ode asked King Harald if there was a particular Norwegian tradition he hoped was kept alive in Minnesota, and whether it had anything to do with lutefisk. "It's much broader than that, thank goodness," the king answered. "There are all the things with the sciences—we visited the Mayo Clinic and met several Norwegian doctors studying there. There are lots of exchange students, so much is about education."

The king added: "It's very important to get to know each other better, because more people here are calling themselves Norwegian-Americans than we have Norwegians in Norway," referring to the almost 20 percent of Minnesotans that identify themselves as Norwegian.

From here, it's on to New York, where the king and queen will visit Ground Zero and the Norwegian Seaman's Church. They'll also attend a luncheon hosted by the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce and a centennial gala for the American-Scandinavian Foundation, along with representatives from the other four Nordic nations.

To read more details about the royal visit to the Midwest and New York, check out the current issue of Viking magazine.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Royal Visit Video

If you've been reading any newspapers or websites in Minnesota, then you're sure to have heard about the Royal visit of Their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway. During their visit, they'll be traveling all over Minnesota and even making a short trip to Decorah, Iowa.

If you aren't able to make it to any of Their Majesties events, I encourage you to check out this video of their visit to St. Olaf college. It includes a great address by His Majesty himself.

In addition, here's a link to a TV interview that our CEO, Eivind Heiberg gave about the Royal Visit.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sons of Norway in the news

This morning the King and Queen of Norway are arriving in Minnesota and it's going to be an exciting 8 days for everyone around here. In the run up to the Royal visit a number of news organizations have reached out to us to learn more about the Norwegian American community. In fact, our CEO, Eivind Heiberg was interviewed by the local CBS affiliate yesterday and I was interviewed by their sister radio station.

For you early risers, my interview should be on sometime between 6 and 6:30 on WCCO 830 and Eivind's interview can be found here.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Christmas in October

If you are a Midwesterner like me, you might be having trouble deciding what time of year it is these days. My front yard, full of fallen leaves, certainly looks like October, and yet the high temps have climbed into the eighties this week, making it feel more like July. To add to my confusion, I've just finished editing the stories for the December issue of Viking.

It can be a little jarring to work on issues two or three months before their publication date—particularly leading up to the holidays. But luckily I was introduced to some photography this week that really put me in a holiday mood. The photos were the work of Norwegian photographer Per Breiehagen. In addition to assignments for clients such as National Geographic, Disney and Patagonia, Breiehagen has pursued his own creative projects, like his "Winter Magic" and "Winter Magic II" series. What started out as a single Christmas card photo of his daughter for family and friends has evolved into a wonderful, other-worldly experience. Enjoy!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sons of Norway on the Radio

It's Norsk Hostfest time again, and Sons of Norway is again sponsoring Oslo Hall. That in and of itself is pretty big for us; having a platform in front of a crowd that can swell to more than 20,000 people per day is really exciting.

But what's even more exciting is that as part of this year's largest Nordic festival in North America, Sons of Norway took to the airwaves yesterday! Well, to be more accurate, Fraternal Director Linda Pederson did. Linda was interviewed at Norsk Hostfest by Merrill Piepkorn, host of Prairie Public Radio's "Hear it Now."

To hear her interview, click here and forward to the 17:00 mark to listen to Linda talk about Sons of Norway and our flood relief efforts in Minot, ND. 

For those of you listening online or in North Dakota, tune in live tonight because Linda, as well as a number of Norsk Hostfest performers, will be on the air raising money for Minot flood relief.

Barnehage Programs Begin

Have you had the chance to read "The Bilingual Boost" in the September issue of Viking? In her article, writer Holly O'Dell features the innovative programming at Barnehage, Concordia Language Villages' (CLV) Norwegian immersion preschool in Edina, Minn.

For those who live in the Twin Cities, Barnehage offers a couple of programs that are just starting up. Tussetroll, a parent-child class for 2-1/2 to 4-year-olds, begins Oct. 20. Valerie "Magne" Borey, who teaches at Barnehage, says "the Norwegian language is something a lot of us associate very intimately with our families, so it's a great way for little ones to start learning the language, when that connection to parents—and grandparents—is so firmly central to who they are."

Norge Rundt, for children ages 4-11, meets one Saturday a month, beginning Oct. 8. "This is a wonderful opportunity for young children who can't attend Barnehage during the school week, or Skogfjorden villagers who want to continue what they've begun during the summer." Borey says. She adds that she's excited about the theme they've chosen for the year: norske helter (Norwegian heroes).

For more information on Barnehage programs, visit the CLV website or call 1-800-222-4750 to register.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Response to July 22 Tragedy

Skogfjorden, Concordia's Norwegian Language Village, is collaborating with Nordmanns-Forbundet to respond to the July 22 terror attacks in Norway. The event will take place on Fri., Oct. 7 at 7 pm at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Edina, Minn.

Hallgrim Berg, President of Nordmanns-Forbundet, will discuss the impact the attacks have had on Norway and the role the royal family has played in helping the country in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Skogfjorden villagers will share their perspectives on the attacks and will work with staff members to create a program featuring narrative, poetry and song. This event is free and open to all.

Viking will remember the events of July 22 with a special commemorative article. Look for it in our December issue.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Elitatt.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Norwegian Experience: Day 4, 5 & 6

It has been a busy couple of days for Norwegian Experience winner, Nancy Madson, but it sounds like she is loving every minute. Last time I spoke with Nancy was on Thursday, so we had quite a bit to catch up on this morning. Since then Nancy has visited six stave churches, the emigrant museum, the historic Kvikne's hotel and the Flåm railway and more. So here goes!

In Lillehammer we visited the ice arena for 1994 Olympics. The arena roof is shaped like an upside down Viking ship. We didn’t go inside but it was interesting to see the building. The most notable part of that day was the emigrant museum in Hamar. We had traditional rommegrot and dried reindeer and sausage with flat bread. The curator at the museum was wonderful too and very interesting. He dispelled so many myths about immigration! One myth was that traditionally we think of Norwegian emigration happening beginning in 1825 but many left prior to 1825. He also talked quite a bit about the number of emigrants who returned to Norway. It was also interesting to hear that the most Norwegians emigrated in 2010—30,000 last year. Which is the most ever in absolute numbers. The curator was very thought provoking, a bit of a philosopher, it was very educational.

Later we drove through the Gudbrandsdalen Valley.
I know everyone thinks of Norway for the fjords but this valley is a real contender to the fjords, it is so beautiful!

So far we’ve been able to see eight different stave churches in various stages of remodeling, reconstruction and restoration. When the churches were first constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries they were very basic and dark, changing to be more ornate during the Catholic years, and then changing again after the reformation. It was wonderful to see these churches and hear about the changes they went through over the years. On Sunday we saw the Borghund stave church in Lærdal, which is currently undergoing a restoration. We were able to climb the scaffolding and actually see many of the areas being repaired in detail. It was the best. I can’t imagine having a better tour of the stave churches!

We had a wonderful time in Undredal on Sunday evening as well. We had dinner at a goat cheese factory. We enjoyed a delicious course of cheeses as well as my favorite brown cheese, geitost. I love that cheese! We also participated in some Norwegian music and folk dancing.

When I visited in 2000 I didn’t participate in any organized tours. However, I can’t stress enough how wonderful this tour has been. I have learned so much more. Linda McCormick and Borton Overseas have done a fabulous job putting this together. If Sons of Norway decides to do another tour, I would so highly recommend it, not only because of the things you see but also because of the camaraderie with tour members. I’ve made quite a few connections with members I wouldn’t have otherwise met. It is a totally different experience than when our members get together for the convention, a tour like this helps you meet those everyday members. It really is a fabulous tour. I just hope Sons of Norway and Borton Overseas does this again!

Don’t forget to check the blog later for more updates, and be sure to visit the Sons of Norway website if you’d like to be the lucky recipient of this amazing contest for 2011!

September 19th: International Talk Like a Pirate Day

If you didn't already know, today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! That means that people around the world will spending the day gleefully saying YARRRRR and AVAST in celebration of this parodic holiday that was created back in 1995.

Now, I'm sure you're probably wondering why the Sons of Norway blog is playing host to this mirthful holiday, right? I mean, pirates were localized to the South Seas and Caribbean islands only, like in the movies and Disney rides, right?


The North Seas, especially throughout Scandinavia, actually played host to their own pirate culture. While southern oceans were the home of colorfully named pirates, like Blackbeard and Calico Jack Rackham, the North Sea was sailed by pirates named Otto Stigsson and Knut Ellingsen. In fact, North Sea Piracy was such a developed culture in the 14th and 15th century that the oceans were ruled by an organized group, called Fataljebrødrene. In fact, they even codified their behavior with strict rules of conduct, called “Likedelere”, which means “Those who share equally”.

So, now that you've had your pirate lesson for the day, join me in saying YAAARRRRRR!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Geitungen Begins North American Tour

Fans of Norwegian folk music, take note: Geitungen, an energetic instrumental trio that's brimming with talent, is touring North America this month. I had the good fortune of hearing these guys play last summer at Nisswa-stämman Scandinavian Folk Music Festival, and I became an instant fan. The group, which plays traditional tunes from the Rogaland area in southwestern Norway, has released three albums: "Langt Ute" (2010), "Bra Kast" (2005), which won a Norwegian folk music award for best album, and "Vaniljesaus" (2001).

Geitungen (pictured here, from left) is Christer Rossebø on fiddle, mandolin, mandola and guitar; Håvard Ims on melodeon and accordions; and Vidar Skrede on hardanger fiddle, fiddle and guitars.

The group began its tour earlier this week in Calgary, Alberta. Their next stop is British Columbia and then Washington state before playing at Norsk Høstfest in Minot, North Dakota. They'll be playing a few gigs in Minnesota before heading back to Norway in October. You'll find a detailed tour itinerary on Multe Music. Check out their website for a sampling of their infectious tunes.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Presidential Tour 2011: Day 2 and 3

Yesterday I spoke with International President Dan Rude about the presidential Tour of Norway to see how it’s going so far. I caught up with him as he was just finishing lunch at the Hadeland Glassworks, but more on that in a bit. Here’s what Dan had to say:

SofN: So, Dan, how’s the tour going? Last time we chatted you’d had a long day, but were looking forward to the excursions to Akershus and the Storting. How’d they go?

DR: Oh, it was so interesting! Akershus and the Norwegian Resistance museum were amazing. Going through the museum, it really this home how much Norwegians sacrificed when fighting the Nazis. Their homes, their families, and in some cases their lives. It really puts things in perspective.

SofN: Wow, that sounds really moving. I’m glad you got to see it. Now, after the Akershus trip, you went to the Storting, right?

DR: Oh yes! That was last night and it was fantastic! We met with a good friend of ours who is a MP and he took us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Storting. We were able to go places within the building that most citizens never see in person, like the Main Chanber, where the MPs meet. Looking around, I was so amazed at the level of technology they employ.

Then we went down on the main floor of the chamber, where people are rarely allowed to go. It was a great experience because the whole building has some great architecture and design.

SofN: That sounds like a lot of fun and a rare opportunity. Was there a favorite part of the tour?

DR: I think it would probably have been seeing the room where HM the King waits prior to opening the Storting every year.

SofN: Very cool. I bet there aren’t a lot of people who get to see that. Now wasn’t there a dance performance as well?

DR: Yes! We met up with a bunch of our old friends who live in Oslo. They are in a group called Steinsgardskroken, and they have an accordion group that plays for the dances. It was awesome! I even learned some new dances and, best of all, made some new friends.

SofN: Sounds like a lot of fun. So with all that activity yesterday, are you enjoying some down-time today?

DR: Not at all. I’m still full of energy! We spent part of the morning on the bus, going to visit the Heddal Stave Church. That was quite an experience for us since it’s the largest stave church in Norway.

Then we came here to the Hadeland Galssworks. We’ve just finished lunch and are about to take a tour of their glassblowing area, then do some shopping for gifts and souvenirs.

SofN: Hadeland Glassworks are a great place to visit. We’ve sent a number of past Norwegian Experience winners there. They’ve all had a great time and learned a lot about the art that goes into making glassblowing and the resulting artwork.

DR: I’m sure it’s going to be very educational for everyone. Then once we wrap up here, we’re going on to Eidsvold where we’ll visit Constitution Hall. That’s going to be a very special part because it’s such an important part of Norway’s history. Unfortunately because it’s under renovation we won’t be able to see much inside, but it’s still an important stop on the tour.

Then, after Eidsvold, we are off to Hamar, which is a very special place for me. It’s where my grandmother came from, so there is a deep familial connection with the area. When we’re there we are also going to visit Mjørsa, which is the largest freshwater lake in Norway. The scenery there is so beautiful, I know everyone is going to love it!

After that, we are ending the day with a nice dinner for everyone on the tour and we’re going to be visited by International Director Ernst Granly, his wife and his brother. It’ll be great to see him and I know that everyone will enjoy meeting with him.

SofN: Wow, Dan, it sounds like you’ve had a full couple of days! Is everyone on the tour able to keep up?

DR: Oh, yes! Everyone is still really excited to be here. We’ve walked a lot of miles so far, but everyone is having a great time!

SofN: Great, Dan! Thanks for keeping us up-to-date on everything that’s going on with the Presidential Tour!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Norwegian Experience: Day 2 & 3

Both Wednesday and Thursday have been fun-filled days for Nancy Madson, 2010 Norwegian Experience contest winner. Nancy visited the Oslo Folk Museum, Gol stave church, the Viking Ship Musuem, Parliament and much more! Let’s hear how she’s enjoying the trip!

Walk me through your day on Wednesday…did you have any favorite stops?

Wednesday was great! Last night especially! Our visit to Parliament was really interesting and the folk dance group afterward was wonderful and very large! There were dancers and musicians of all ages, from 10 to 70. There were even young children playing the accordion. Afterward we were served dessert and coffee and the dancers went out into the audience and encouraged us to dance a waltz with them. It was a great time!

I also did a bit of shopping with Luella. She wanted bunad shoes. (Of course this prompted my active imagination. So to prevent myself from picturing ornate, heavily embroidered shoes, I just had to ask. Nancy was happy to put my curiosity to rest, “special shoes you wear with a bunad-dancing shoes.”)

What did you do on the tour on Thursday?

A little bit of driving, we visited Heddal stave church, which is absolutely beautiful. Very large and decorated and it is currently in use, from April to October. They can’t open the church in winter because the electric heat would damage the interior since the church is 800 years old.

We also stopped at Hadeland Glassworks, which was very interesting and educational. I have watched freeform glassblowing before but at Hadeland today they used molds instead. I watched an artist use 3 molds in one piece today. I also did a bit of Christmas shopping for my family in their gift shop. (Nancy did give me the details on the nifty gifts she picked up--which sound wonderful--but I won’t spoil the surprise for the lucky recipients!) I also received a wonderful gift from Hadeland for being the contest winner, a beautiful cobalt blue Christmas ornament set of three hand-blown kings.

We also made a surprise stop in Eidsvoll to Eidsvollsbygningen, the manor house where the Norwegian constitution was written. Unfortunately the building was closed for restoration but it was nice to stop and see it from the outside.

When I visited in 2000 I didn’t participate in any tours, but this visit has been so much more of a learning experience. The tour guides with Borton Overseas have been wonderful. I’ve been taking notes and trying to remember everything. One of the things I learned was that Norwegians have a triangular flag as well as the rectangular flag. The triangular flag is used more for everyday use and what we would consider the “traditional” Norwegian flag is used for more official occasions. I was also surprised by the amount of sod roofs and stabburs I saw today. You think of them being “of the past” but you still see them in use in Norway. I’m hoping to find a stabbur souvenir to take home with me. I really enjoy those little buildings-some are so ornate and others are fairly plain.

I also was interviewed by John Granly, journalist and brother to our International Director Ernst Granly, for the local paper in Eidsvoll. So who knows, my picture might be in the local paper!

Don’t forget to check the blog later for more updates! On Friday Nancy will be off to Hamar and Lom to visit the Emigrant museum and the Ringebu and Lom stave churches, ending with a stay at the historic Fossheim Hotel. So, if you’d like to be the lucky recipient of this amazing contest for 2011, be sure to visit the Sons of Norway website and check out the contest details here!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Norwegian Experience : Day 1

Yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to check in with Nancy Madson, the 2010 Norwegian Experience recruitment contest winner, via Skype. A member since 1990, Nancy has held numerous lodge leadership positions and is currently vice president of Solskinn 6-150 and a zone director. As the 2010 winner, Nancy will be spending the next week visiting some of Norway’s most scenic and historic places, including UNESCO World Heritage sites and several stave churches, courtesy of Borton Overseas and Sons of Norway. I caught up with Nancy after a busy travel day to Oslo, complete with an orientation city tour and a welcome dinner and dessert with Sons of Norway district 8 members.

How has the trip experience been so far? Are you enjoying taking part in the Presidential Tour with Sons of Norway members?
The hotel is really beautiful and the flight went well…although it was very long. I think I will probably be asleep within a minute of my head hitting the pillow! Half the fun of the trip is enjoying it with fellow members. Having common connections and interests just adds to the trip and I’ve really enjoyed meeting other members.

What are you most excited to see?
The Stave Churches! I was able to see 2 of them during my visit in 2000, but seeing 8 of the 28 of them is really something special. I’m also really looking forward to the food! I’d like to try some new things as well as enjoy the food Norway is known for, like seafood and reindeer. I am also really looking forward to trying whale during our stop in Bergen.

Any highlights from the Oslo city tour?
I really enjoyed seeing all the amazing architecture. Everything is so old and intricate. Where I live in Palm Springs everything is new, you don’t get to see carvings and stonework like this there. While others looked at the stores, I was looking up at the great buildings. I did stop into one store…a bunad shop! It almost made you drool to see all those great bunads.

On Wednesday you will be visiting the Oslo Folk Museum, the Gol stave church and the Viking Ship Museum. Have you visited these heritage sites before?
Yes, I was able to see many of these places when I visited Norway several years ago for the International Convention. However, this time I am looking forward to being able to visit with a good friend of mine who actually works at the Folk Museum in Oslo. We’re also going to experience a behind-the-scenes visit to Parliament Wednesday afternoon and a performance by a folk dancing group. Later in the day I’d like to explore the area a bit and do some shopping.

Is there anything about the city that surprised you or looked different since your visit in 2000?
I had forgotten a lot. Last time I visited I was under the weather and so it made it a bit more difficult to really enjoy the city, so everything really looks brand new to me! I did notice all the construction that seems to be happening in the city and I love the new Oslo Opera House, it is so beautiful!

Visit the blog later this week to see more updates from Nancy and exciting trip details along the way! And don't forget, you, too, can be eligible to win the Norwegian Experience! For contest details, click here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Presidential Tour 2011: Day 1

This morning a group of Sons of Norway members landed at Gardermoen airport in Oslo, kicking off the 2011 Presidential Tour of Norway! If you haven’t heard about this already, you’re really going to be bummed about missing out on it. The tour of Norway is being led by Sons of Norway International President, Dan Rude and our amazing travel partner, Borton Overseas.

Over the next week or so those on the tour will visit a number of cities in Norway, including Oslo, Bergen, Balestrand and more! They will be taking in the sites at a number of cultural and heritage-related locations, like stave churches in Lom, an emigrant museum and the world famous Hadeland Glassworks!

This is going to be such an exciting trip for everyone involved, and we wanted to do what we could to share the trip with all the members (myself included) who weren’t able to attend. So, over the next week there will be a number of blog posts, where we interview Dan Rude to recap the excitement of the day and share as much as possible with you, our respected readers.

In addition, my colleague, Melissa, will be posting interviews with Nancy Madson who is this year’s Norwegian Experience Recruitment Contest winner. Thanks to our partnership with Borton Overseas she and a guest have been awarded two of the coveted spots on this year’s Presidential Tour. So be sure to check back on the blog to get her insight and thoughts on the trip.

So, with that, here’s the first interview with our International President, Dan Rude:

SofN: So, Dan, I know you’ve just gotten into Oslo today after traveling from Montana. That’s a long trip. How are you feeling?

DR: I’m jacked! (Sidenote: No, seriously, that’s a direct quote.) It was a long trip, but as soon as my feet hit the ground in Oslo I was ready to go! I’m so full of adrenaline on trips like this. I figure I’ll sleep for a couple of days when I get home, but right now I don’t want to waste a minute.

In fact right after we arrived, we took a nice tour of Oslo that gave everyone a good taste of old Norway. We went past the palace, the opera house, Oslo Fjord, and Akershus castle. It was a great way to kick off the week.

SofN: That’s great, Dan. It’s good to hear you’re excited. How are the rest of the tour participants feeling after the long journey? Are they as excited as you?

DR: Oh yes! Everyone has been talking about this tour for a long time and are now very excited to actually be here!

SofN: So, tonight was the welcome dinner, right?

DR: Yes, it was a great time and it gave everyone a chance to get to know each other. Then, after dinner we had dessert with some Sons of Norway members who live here in Oslo. That was a real treat!

SofN: That sounds like a lot of fun, Dan. I’m sure everyone is pretty tired today, but what have you got planned tomorrow?

DR: Tomorrow is going to be a big day! First are visiting Vigeland park, which I think is a must for anyone traveling to Oslo. Then, after the park, we are going to the Oslo Folk Museum where we’ll see our first stave church and see the Viking ships they have on display.

In the afternoon I’m planning on going back to Akershus fortress to visit the WWII Norwegian resistance museum. It was built since the last time I was here, so this’ll be the first time I’ve seen it. I’m really excited about that.

Then tomorrow night we are all going to visit the Parliament to meet with my good friend Terje Bekkedal, who is a MP. He’s going to give us a behind the scenes tour of Parliament, then he is leading a dance presentation by the group, Steinsgardskroken. It’s going to be a very full day!

And, with that, we close the first day of the Presidential Tour. It’s going to be a full week for everyone, so be sure to keep coming back for daily updates!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Decoding—and Creating—the Primstav

Have you read "Decoding the Primstav" in the July issue of Viking? In it, Keith Homstad presents a history and explanation of the primstav, Norway's medieval calendar stick. Before the days of printed calendars or clocks, the simple but highly accurate primstav served as a religious guide and farmers almanac for seven centuries.

Homstad is the president of Nordmarka 1-585 in Northfield, of which I'm also a member. Last night Nordmarka members gathered to try their hand at making their own primstavs. We met over the supper hour and enjoyed snacking on hjerte vafler and meatballs while Homstad (pictured below on the left) led us in the activity.

If you'd like to learn more about primstavs, check out the July issue of Viking, where you'll find instructions for making your own on page 24. Homstad encourages readers to personalize their primstavs to include their own "red letter days," such as holidays and important family events. In addition to a fun lodge activity, it sounds like a wonderful Christmas gift idea to me!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ready! Set! Study!

If you've been keeping up with Viking magazine, then you probably read the great article, called "Ready, Set, Study!" in the September issue. For those that haven't read it yet, it's a great resource for learning about educational exchange programs in Norway for both young students as well as those looking to attend a college program overseas.

For the article Viking photographed three students, Kristina Boe, Danielle Taylor and Solina Bressler, who all attended the Oslo International Summer School this year thanks to Sons of Norway Foundation grants. The reason I mention this is that we've learned that Danielle has been keeping a blog and writing about her time studying at the OISS.

It makes for some great reading and gives a great insiders-view of the the program. If you've ever thought about participating in the program, or wanted to see how the Sons of Norway Foundation makes real and significant impacts in the lives of young people, I definitely recommend you take a look at what Danielle has to say.

Also, don't forget that the next week we begin our blog coverage of the Sons of Norway Presidential Tour as well as the Norwegian Experience winner's trip to Norway. Over the course of following 12 days the blog will bring you daily posts about what our International President, Dan Rude, and Norwegian Experience winner, Nancy Madson, are up as they both explore all the wonder that Norway has to offer!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Norwegian Teachers' Resistance

When I think about dangerous jobs, teaching isn't the first thing that comes to mind. During World War II, however, teachers in Norway found themselves under threat. One of these teachers was Edvard Brakstad, an instructor at Eidsvoll Landsgymnas.

In the spring of 1942, Brakstad was one of 1,100 teachers arrested by the Germans for refusing to join a teacher association, designed to educate Norwegian students in Nazi ideology. After Brakstad's arrest in April, he was sent to a prison camp near Kirkenes, in northern Norway. While a prisoner, he wrote letters to his family and kept a journal, which he kept hidden from prison camp guards.

These writings formed the basis for Carter Walker's article "The Norwegian Teachers' Resistance," in this month's education-themed issue of Viking. While Walker's article features excerpts of Brakstad's writings, a larger collection can be found online, along with commentary from Brakstad's son, Olav.

Despite serious illness, Brakstad survived his ordeal. He returned home in late August of that year and later took over as headmaster of his school. If you'd like to learn more about Brakstad and the Norwegian teachers' resistance, be sure to check out the September issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ready, Set, Study

September is almost here, there's a hint of fall in the air, and students are returning to school. Norway's Crown Prince Sverre Magnus, age 5, started school last week as well. He was accompanied on the first day by his parents, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit. His grandmother, Queen Sonja, was also with the family on her grandson's big day. The prince will attend Jansløkka school in Asker, where his sister Ingrid Alexandra is also a student.

Viking magazine is celebrating the beginning of the academic year with an issue focused on education. Our cover story, called "Ready, Set, Study," provides students everything they need to know to begin exploring study abroad options. In "The Bilingual Boost," we highlight the benefits of learning a second language, featuring a Norwegian-language preschool in Edina, Minn. We also tell the story of the Norwegian teachers' resistance in WWII, based on the letters and journals of Edvard Brakstad. A teacher at Eidsvoll Landsgymnas, Brakstad was arrested by the Nazis in March of 1942, along with 1,100 other Norwegian teachers. Finally, our Q&A interview this month is with educational psychologist Tove Dahl, the long-time dean of Skogfjorden, Concordia College's Norwegian Language Village.

The staff at Viking wishes the crown prince—and all students—an excellent start to the school year!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ten Year Anniversary for Kronprinsparet (the Crown Prince couple)

Yesterday marked the Kronprinsparets (Crown Prince Couple’s) tenth wedding anniversary. Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit celebrated their decade of marriage with a church service at Oslo Cathedral and a program at Universitetsplassen.

The church service was attended by the entire royal Norwegian family, Mette-Marit’s mother and siblings, the couple’s children, the Swedish Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg as well as other state officials. In addition to official invitees, 200 Norwegian people received tickets to share in the occasion. The couple’s two children, Princess Ingrid Alexandra (7) and Prince Sverre Magnus (5), and Mette-Marit’s son, Marius Borg Høiby (14), were all involved in the ceremony, the two eldest reading bible verses.

After the church service, the celebrations continued at Universitetsplassen (University Place). Met with cheers from the crowd, the royal couple gave a speech and enjoyed a hip hop concert. The celebration at Universitetsplassen was not just a celebration of the couple’s wedding anniversary, it was also a celebration of the Royal Couple’s Humanitarian Fund, Kronprinsparets Fond, which, according to the Royal Website, “identifies and supports projects for young people at risk.” 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

August Is Ripe for the Nordic Diet

It's August—one of my favorite times of year, and hands down the best month in my culinary calendar. The tomatoes and cucumbers are finally starting to ripen in my garden. The herbs, planted from seed so many weeks ago, are the size of small bushes and the fall crop of raspberries will soon be ripe in my yard. What isn't plentiful outside my door can be found at the local farmer's market: beets, cabbage, garlic and more. It's a great time to be a locavore. And as a Minnesotan, I can't help notice the similarities between a local diet and the Nordic diet.

The Nordic diet, as outlined in the August issue of Viking magazine, includes six main elements: grains; fish and seafood; cold-weather vegetables; game, meat and poultry; herbs; and native berries. Danish chef Trina Hahnemann, author of "The Nordic Diet: Using Local and Organic Food to Promote a healthy Lifestyle," said in a recent Viking interview "the Nordic diet is about eating a lot of local vegetables in season, eating local fish, cutting back on meats and eating grains."

If you'd like to learn more about the Nordic Diet, check out Trine Hahnemann's website, including these ideas for creating delicious Danish smørrebrød. And if you haven't done it already, be sure to check out Kari Diehl's article on New Nordic Cuisine in the August issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesty of Flickruser CharlesFred