Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Loving Lofoten

The Huffington Post has been showing lots of love for Norway these days. In January, it declared Norway the greatest place on earth, and a few days ago, it posted an article on why Lofoten is one of the world’s most beautiful archipelagos. With its dramatic natural landscape, stunning scenery Lofoten is the perfect place to bask in the Midnight Sun.

In the January 2014 issue of Viking magazine, we recommend some fantastic things to do and see in Lofoten. As summer approaches, the islands are sure to be buzzing with tourists, as Lofoten is one of the most visited areas in Northern Norway during the summer. From the end of May to mid-July, travelers can pack in as much activity as they want, as the sun will be up for 24 hours a day.

Here are a few suggested places to check out in Lofoten:

Lofotr Viking Museum: Step back in time and experience Viking life at this living history museum. Enjoy a Viking feast, storytelling and interactive exhibits. Visiting in August? Check out the Viking Festival from August 6-10, 2014.

Lofoten Golf Links: Tee up for some Midnight Sun golfing from mid-May to early August. It’s the only golf course in the world that offers 24 hours of golfing for more than two months.

For more planning tips, visit

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

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nordic Noir

With Easter right around the corner, many Norwegians love taking part in Påskekrim, Norway’s tradition of reading crime fiction at Easter. In the April 2014 issue of Viking, check out the feature story on Nordic Noir to learn about this uniquely Norwegian Easter pastime and why crime novels are so popular.

If you’re looking for a Nordic crime novel to curl up with this Easter, here are a few recommended titles. Happy reading!

“Eva’s Eye: An Inspector Sejer Mystery” by Karin Fossum

“The Ice Princess: A Novel” by Camilla Läckberg

“The Land of Dreams” by Vidar Sundstøl

“The Bat” by Jo Nesbø

“The Seventh Child” by Erik Valeur

 Check out these titles coming soon:
“The Son” by Jo Nesbø
Out May 13, 2014

“The Hidden Child: A Novel” by Camilla Läckberg
Out May 15, 2014

“The Murder of Harriet Krohn” by Karin Fossum
Out November 18, 2014

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

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Accomplished Animator

In the April 2014 issue of Viking, we talked with Academy Award-winning filmmaker and illustrator Torill Kove. She currently lives in Montreal where she works on short films and children’s books. Here’s more from our interview.

Q: What makes a great film in your opinion? 
A: There are many different ways for a film to be great. Sometimes I can't even really put my finger on what it is. But I really like a good story, or content that invites to reflection on what it means to be a human being; some little insight about the complexity of life. I love films that leave me with a feeling of having witnessed something unfold, even if I am not quite sure what it is.

Q: What are some of the challenges and rewards of working on a short film versus a long format? 
A: The biggest challenge for the feature director is to be able to communicate clearly to the creative team what your vision is. It's not easy because this vision only exists in your mind. The goal is to get the final product as close to this vision as possible, using the skills and talents of the team. The responsibility feels bigger on a feature because in addition to being art. It’s also a business, which means that your producer's livelihood depends on the film's success at the box office. When directing and animated short, you can be much closer to the actual creative work. Many animators do everything themselves, perhaps with one or two assistants. It is often a very personal process where the translation from vision to film doesn't have to pass through so many different channels. It's more direct. From an artistic point of view this is very satisfying. Short films do however not generate income once they are made. They travel to festivals, occasionally screen on television, and if there's an audience for them, they can have long, if not very profitable, lives on YouTube. The disadvantage of this is that finding funding for short films is difficult. The advantage is that once you have funding you can allow yourself to work quite free from pressures of box office expectations.

Check out Kove’s Academy Award-winning short film, “The Danish Poet.”

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

Thursday, April 3, 2014

National Volunteer Week

Next week marks the 40th National Volunteer Week (NVW), which is a time for all organizations, including Sons of Norway, to celebrate the good work of its members and the positive impact they make on communities throughout North America and Norway. Specifically, NVW is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. It’s about demonstrating to the nation that by working together, we have the fortitude to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals.

What’s more, National Volunteer Week is about taking action and encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change – discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to make a difference.

So, to mark the occasion, we are asking all lodges to share their volunteer activities with us! Let us know what kinds of projects you are undertaking, let us know what the impact on your community is and if it was successful. Also, don’t forget that Sons of Norway  has the “Spotlight on Volunteerism” contest, where lodges can submit their own volunteerism stories for a chance to he highlighted in Viking magazine. To learn more about this project, contact Membership Coordinator, Joe Eggers at

In the meantime, we hope everyone enjoys National Volunteer Week and undertakes a new project for the betterment of their community!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

More With the Hemsing Sisters

In the April 2014 issue of Viking, we highlight talented Norwegian violinists Ragnhild and Eldbjørg Hemsing. The sisters hail from Valdres, Norway, and have been playing violin since the age of 5. Here’s more from our interview.

Q: How did you become interested in playing the violin?
A: We grew up with music all around us. Our mom is a violinist. She plays both classical violin as well as the Hardanger fiddle, and we got introduced to both musical worlds at an early stage. Our father was a very keen Langeleik player, the other national folk music instrument in Norway. The violin is such a beautiful instrument with a very wide range, in which you can really create your own personal voice. Both of us started to play the classical violin and folk music on the Hardanger fiddle at age 5, so it has been natural to combine these two musical worlds.

Q: What was it like playing for Norway’s Royal Family?
A: In 1996, when we were 6 and 8 years old, we were asked to play at the celebration for May 17th, The National Day in Norway, which was held at the National Theatre in Oslo. The whole Royal Family was present, and it was a very special occasion. I remember we thought the scariest thing was not to play wrong notes, but to bow and curtsey the right way for the Royal Family. Since then, we've played for The Royal Family many times, both in Norway and abroad. And we are now very good at bowing correctly.

Q: What do you enjoy about playing the Hardanger fiddle, Norway’s national folk instrument?
A: We are both very grateful to have grown up with traditional Norwegian folk music, and especially the folk music from our home region, Valdres. In this form of music, there is such a freedom and a versatility, which gives us strength and advantage as classical violinists. The traditional tunes are advanced and complex with a very specific rhythm, which tells us from which part in Norway you come from. It's like a musical dialects. We are both very proud and feel honored to be a part of this tradition and to be able to bring it to further generations.

For more on the Hemsing sisters, check out their website and be sure to their watch performance videos.

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