Monday, December 24, 2012

Welcome, Christmas!

It's Christmas Eve, or julaften, as it's called in Norwegian. All across Norway at 5 p.m. church bells will ringe julen inn, (ring Christmas in), signifying that the holiday has officially arrived. If you would like to hear the lovely sounds of these bells, NRK has collected them from 22 churches all over Norway. The radio program, called Kim Alle Klokker (Ring All The Bells), has become a tradition on NRK's P1. Here's a link to last's year's bells. Those who don't read Norwegian can simply scroll down to enjoy the nearly two-dozen audio files from across the country.

For those interested in learning more about Norwegian radio, stay tuned for the February issue of Viking. We'll highlight information on streaming programs online, as well as radio apps for your smartphone. In the meantime, enjoy the bells and God Jul from the staff 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. 

Photo courtesy of Flikr user bentekalsnes.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Most Beautiful Voyage

Coming up during Christmas week there’s going to be a great new program being broadcasted on Public Television channels across the U.S., called A Norway Passage-The Most Beautiful Voyage.  The one-hour program is drawn from a remarkable live, six-day, 24 hour per day documentary, titled Hurtigruten: Minutt for Minutt, produced in 2011 by NRK, Noway's national broadcaster.

The program, which follows the voyage of Hurtigruten’s NordNorge ship takes the viewer along to witness some of the most beautiful Norwegian landscapes and vistas. I’ve watched the video a couple of times already and was really impressed with the combination of breathtaking visuals, informative narration and opulent soundtrack. It’s definitely worth an hour in front of a TV or computer screen.

Now, if you’ve got more time on your hands and really want to get the full effect, I encourage you to watch the complete 134 hour broadcast (it takes a minute or so to load, but is well worth it). If your time is a bit more limited, though, definitely check out the Most Beautiful Voyage broadcast. All you have to do is check your local listings to see when it will run during Christmas week.

If you do watch either of the programs mentioned here, I’d love to know what your favorite part or location was. Share in the comments below.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Christmas Message from the CEO

Christmas is nearly upon us and I wanted to take a moment from all the hustle and bustle of the season and send you a message of good tidings from myself and the entire staff here at the Sons of Norway Headquarters.

As the day grows closer I find myself thinking of Christmases past, from my childhood through adulthood. I remember the joy of spending time with my family, the feeling of peace that the season brought with it and the excitement of knowing that each Christmas would be full of new memories that I’d cherish for years to come.

For many, though, it’s easy to get jaded about what some call “the industry of Christmas” where the spirit of the season is often replaced by advertising, marketing and sales-driven information that inundates us during this time of year. It’s unfortunate, which is why I choose to remember a quote from Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States of America: 

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.

I hope it helps remind you, as it does me, of the real meaning of Christmas. I also hope that the holidays will bring you a sense of peace within as well as a feeling of goodwill toward all, and that you will show great mercy and compassion for others who may be less fortunate.

Next week as you get together with family and friends to celebrate the season I hope that you will find yourself filled with peace and surrounded by all the things that bring Christmas cheer!

I also want to thank you for your Sons of Norway membership and all the good things you do for our fine organization.

God jul!
Eivind Heiberg
Sons of Norway

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sweater Stockings

Don't throw out those old Nordic sweaters! If you're feeling crafty, you can give them new life and purpose by upcycling them into Christmas stockings. The directions can be found at Sweet Paul magazine, founded by Norwegian-born stylist Paul Lowe.

Sweet Paul is a great go-to for holiday inspiration throughout the year. When Easter rolls around, we'll be featuring some of Paul's recipes for a festive Nordic Easter brunch. Look for them in our March 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.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Top 10 Norwegian Christmas Songs

How many of the top 10 Norwegian Christmas songs do you know? This list appeared recently on the music website, Here are the most played Christmas tunes on the radio, TV and in concerts, according to TONO, a cooperative of composers, lyricists and music publishers that manages performance rights in Norway.

The Most Played Norwegian Christmas Songs
1. En stjerne skinner i natt
2. Det lyser i stille grender
3. Vi tenner våre lykter
4. Vårres Jul
5. Himmel på jord
6. Julekveldsvisa
7. Romjulsdrøm
8. Julekveld i skogen
9. Musevisa
10. Hei hå nå er det jul igjen

"A Star Shines in the Night," which tops the list, was written by Tore W. Aas and Eyvind Skeie. The song was first recorded by the Oslo Gospel Choir on their album "A Thousand Christmas Lights" in 1992.  Check out their 2009 performance on Norwegian TV below.

Are you interested in listening to Norwegian radio? In the February issue of Viking, we'll highlight the resources available for those in North America who want to tune in. For information on streaming radio online, as well as smartphone apps, stay tuned!

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, December 14, 2012

A message from the CEO: Newtown CT shooting

Sons of Norway was saddened to learn of the tragic shooting this morning in Newtown, CT. At this time we have not been made aware that any Sons of Norway members in District 3 were affected, but we are reaching out to district leaders in order to determine if that is, in fact, the case.

In the meantime my thoughts and prayers, and those of the entire staff at the Sons of Norway Headquarters as well as our members throughout North America and Norway, are with the families of those affected by this senseless tragedy. 


Eivind Heiberg
Sons of Norway

Monday, December 10, 2012

Winter Magic

It finally snowed in Minnesota this week. Within a few hours, the bleak fall landscape was transformed into a bright and glittering wintry world. Even though I'm a native Minnesotan, and I've seen plenty of winters, there's still something about the first snowfall that I find, well...magical.

We've tried to capture a little of that magic in Viking this month by sharing the photography of Per Breiehagen. A native of Hallingdal, Norway, Breiehagen now lives in Minneapolis and has photographed his adorable daughter, Anja, as the model for his wonderful "Winter Magic" photo series. I first encountered Breiehagen's work over a year ago when I attended the annual meeting of the Twin Cities chapter of Nordmanns Forbundet, or Norwegians Worldwide, as the organization is now known outside Norway.

It looks like the members of the Viking team weren't the only ones enamored by Breiehagen's work. His photography is also featured in this month's issue of Norwegians Worldwide magazine. I guess those of us of Norwegian ancestry—wherever we are in the world—can appreciate great photography, a really cute kid, and the magic of winter.

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, December 2, 2012

Viking Chats With Actor Kristofer Hivju

Did you catch Joe Stych's interview with Kristofer Hivju in the December issue of Viking? The Norwegian actor is bringing his talent to American audiences with an role in the HBO series "Game of Thrones." We couldn't fit the whole conversation in the magazine, but you can read the full interview here!

Viking: Where did you grow up and how did that upbringing affect your career path?
Kristofer Hivju: I grew up in Oslo, and I'm a third generation actor. My grandmother was an actress and my father and my mother are actors, so I grew up at the National Theater. I had no intentions of becoming an actor—actually, I wanted to be a rock star. I was playing bass in a band and I didn't do any acting before I was 16. But that changed when I got the part of Hamlet in a school production. I didn't even ask for it, but they said, "let's take the guy who has the acting parents and hire him!"

When I did act for the first time, I felt the rush; the kind of dope that you can't get anywhere else but on the stage. So I just went up to the head of the school and said "I have to change to a drama school now."

V: When you started acting, did you think you were going to be in movies and on TV shows?
KH: I discovered acting from inside, in a way. From my first meeting with the craft was experience, how to use the craft. I wasn't like, watching these people on TV and saying, "I want to be like them." I just experienced how fantastic it is to have that power and have that extreme concentration, and the joy of making people laugh of making them cry; that emotional power, if you want to call it that. I've seen the craft from inside with my mom and dad as actors. I've seen the glory and the hell of acting, in a way.

When I went into it I knew what to expect. And nobody told me it's going to be just fun.

When I told my dad I was going to drama school, he said, “if you want to do this, you really have to want to do this, because it's a lot of pain and a lot of persistence. But if you get good at it and if you love it it's the greatest thing.”

My dad, he really loves being an actor and he really is one of the best actors in Norway. I knew how much work it takes to get it just right.

V: Do you have a favorite genre that you like to work on?
KH: The theater is what I've done mostly; It's what I've been producing and writing myself, and that will always be my job. Theater has been my wife and movies have been my mistress. Film is what someone has been hiring me to do, but theater is really what I've been doing.

When I started 6-7 years ago I met a good friend of mine who is a movie director, and we started to create stories. We made some films and they had some success, so in a way my love for screen-telling started more as a storyteller than as an actor. Acting is just a different way in.

But right now I really love doing screen work, because I love the principle that you just do a scene, and then you're finished with it and you can go on. In theater, you can do a major successful night, but you know that the people who are going to watch you tomorrow didn't see that. You have to do it perfectly again.

V: You just got a part as Tormund Giantsbane on Game of Thrones. How do you get into character for something like that?
KH: I'm already a Viking, so making me a Wildling [a class of people from the show] is not a long process. I'm really trying to get into the universe by reading the books and understanding the principles of that world. I'm also working out, doing training, and practicing my English dialect.

V: Are you excited about expanding your work to the American scene?
KH: Very. For me, watching American movies is something that started with sitting on my father's lap when I was 10 years old, and seeing films that I was not allowed to see. Being in that extremely safe zone, and looking into that spectacular world, that's where that dream started.

At one point I was very close to getting a part on True Blood so that was like the start of my American career. I told my girlfriend that Hollywood just called, and we just celebrated together in our first small apartment on a very rainy day. Suddenly they called for that audition.

V: How did the audition go?
That was the first taste for me, and I enjoy doing auditions. I love getting like one scene from a huge movie with some huge star, and just to do that scene, for me, is just incredible in itself. Then to go further and further and getting the job, it's a special kind of game. It's not the kind of game that they play in Norway. In Norway you go to maybe one audition and they hire you. Or the director calls and says “do you want to do this part? I have a cool project.” So it's like being in a competition over here. And of course competitions are most fun when you win.

V: You also got a part on the movie “After Earth” with Will Smith. Have you started filming that yet? What was the process like?
I enjoyed it a lot. The funny thing is that I came down to them with this huge beard, and the first person I met—the makeup guy—said, “you need to cut everything off.” I thought that they had cast the whole package! But [Director M. Night] Shyamalan didn't care about the beard. It took two days to shave because I was fighting to keep it. I thought that it would be cool to have a military guy from the future that I was playing have a big beard, and I said maybe they changed the rules of hair politics in the army. I convinced a couple of the producers, and Shyamalan was always on my side, but when the issue came to Will Smith's table, he said one inch, no discussion. That's as far as we can go. So I went from this enormous beard to totally shaved up and military. That was a fun sight.

V: How is acting in Norway is different from acting in America?
KH: Acting is acting. Whether I'm standing on a stage and 50 people are watching or doing a big movie with hundreds of people around, the work is the same.

But it's fantastic that they come to your door in a limousine, and put you on first class, and that you travel in your bed and a bar and a movie theater and a restaurant at the same time for 16 hours. That makes traveling is fun.

But they do treat you really well in America. I think their philosophy is: if we treat you well, you perform better. That's really generous and exotic. Also everything is bigger, but that's true for all of America.

V: What are your future plans?
KH: I'm trying to take it one day and one roll at a time. So, now I'm going into the shooting period with “Game of Thrones” and I'm looking forward to that. So let's see where it goes! I have my own things I'm working with, but who knows. You can try to resist the flow, but you can’t avoid it. 

V: Is there anything else you want to tell Viking readers?
KH: The “Game of Thrones” premier is in March, 2013. One thing I can say is that not that many Norwegian actors are working abroad. My point is that my agent [I don’t have her name, but I know you were in touch] has been my bridge into the American film industry. It helps that she is Danish, and the Danes have been making great movies for a while. Norwegians have too, but Denmark has more contact with the US, and she has really done great work for me and made this journey come alive in a way. You can't forget the people who help you.