Saturday, January 29, 2011

This Winter, Too, Shall Pass

For those of us living in wintry places, January can be a long, cold month. Sometimes we need a reminder that this season, too, shall pass. Check out this video clip—you’ll enjoy seeing the changing seasons in an Oslo backyard.

Whether you like it or not, winter will be with us northerners for a while, so I recommend reading Colleen Friesen’s feature “Of Sled Dogs and Snow Crabs” in this month's issue of Viking. It’s a great reminder that winter—like the rest of the seasons—is better when you get out there and embrace it. Enjoy the rest of the winter, and remember: Spring is right around the corner!

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

Monday, January 24, 2011

Airborne Over Oslo

The Nordic World Ski Championships begin in just a few weeks in Oslo. The event, expected to attract a TV viewing audience of hundreds of millions around the globe, will give Norway the opportunity to showcase its newly redesigned Holmenkollen ski jump facilty, which reopened in March of 2010.

If you’d like to learn more about the new Holmenkollen ski facility or the Nordic Worlds, look for Stephen Regenold’s feature “Airborne Over Oslo,” in the upcoming February issue of Viking. In the meantime, to get you into the spirit of things, check out this ski jumping game that Stephen shared with me. It’s tricky! I’ve crashed every time, but maybe you’ll have better luck!

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 aktivioslo.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ice Music

If you are like those of us living in the Midwest, you’re probably suffering the pains of winter. You know the gusting winds, driving snowstorms and subzero temperatures? Well, one Norwegian is trying to make the best of this wintry mix by playing instruments made of ice.

That’s right, ice.

Norwegian musician, composer and percussionist Terje Isungset has been creating music for years but it wasn’t until he was commissioned to compose and play in a frozen waterfall during the 2000 Lillehammer Olympics that he first gained notoriety for creating music with ice. Then, in 2006, Isungset founded the world’s first ice music festival with instruments—harp, guitar, drums and fiddle, just to name a few—made from 600 year old glacial ice.

In talking about his musical adventures with ice, Isungset said:

“The instruments are made from top quality ice. It must be free of any air bubbles. The instruments are carved using saws and knives. So far these instruments have been created and recorded: Iceofon, Ice Harp, Ice Horn, Ice trumpet, Ice percussion, Ice bass drum carved from one block of ice. In addition, all stands, supports and tables are also made from ice. Only the bass drum pedal, fish line for suspension, and the strings on the Ice Harp are made from materials other than pure frozen water.”

This month, Isungset is bringing his talents to the Geilo Ice Music Festival. After that he plans to take his unique music on the road with an Ice Music Tour that will make stops in Germany, India, Australia, England and France with plans to visit the U.S. in 2012.

If you would like to learn more about Terje Isungset, the Geilo Ice Music Festival or the Ice Music tour, visit, or

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy Founders Day!

Today marks the 116th anniversary of the Founding of Sons of Norway! Join Sons of Norway members around the globe in celebrating this awesome achievement! On behalf of everyone at the Sons of Norway HQ, I want to extend a heartfelt congratulations to all members and lodges everywhere on this momentous occasion.

In commemoration of the day, Sons of Norway members are encouraged to wear their membership pins, vests, or any other Sons of Norway clothing. So, if you see someone in your city wearing their pins of Norway regalia, be sure to congratulate them on the anniversary and ask about the lodge in your area!

If you'd like to learn more about Sons of Norway and its founding, visit the About Us section of, or click here to read an earlier blog post about Sons of Norway's beginnings.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What To Do—and Not To Do—When Traveling in Norway

If you’re a Facebook friend of Visit Norway USA, you may already have seen the “Green Guide to Oslo” on Matador Network. If not, check it out for tips on eco-friendly choices in Norway’s capital city, including restaurants, shops, transportation and attractions.

Those planning a first trip to Norway might also find “What Not to Do in Norway,” an interesting read. While it represents just one writer’s opinion, it’s a good general reminder that getting off the tourist-worn path can sometimes result in big savings and richer, more authentic experiences. Both articles are written by Anne-Sophie Redisch, a travel writer based in Norway.

You'll find more travel tips and plenty of inspiration for your next Scandinavian sojourn in this month’s 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.

Flickr photo courtesy of Toby Simkin.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Founders Day

January 16th, 1895. In world news, France was wrapping up the first chapter of the Dreyfus affair and Russia was experiencing a revival of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Otherwise it was just another Wednesday. However, far flung from these events in Minneapolis, MN, a small group of 18 Norwegian immigrants did something that would have an effect on our lives for the next century and beyond.

It was on that date Sons of Norway was founded.

Coming together out of a sense of fraternity and necessity for mutual protection, the founders based their fledgling group on the ideals of community assistance plans, which had been popular in areas of Norway. These plans required members to pay a small amount each week and in return receive free medical care for themselves and their families. The founders were proud of this new mutual assistance society and believed it reflected the moral principles of American fraternalism.

"Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson" was the name first selected for the new organization but it was soon rejected on the realistic grounds that the American people would find it quite impossible to pronounce. "Sønner av Norge" was the name settled upon and the formal inception with the 18 founders was completed on 16 January 1895.

The fledgling organization provided not only security against financial crises and a forum to celebrate their new nationalism, but it also served to preserve the many things Norwegian which were treasured by those who had left Norway: the literature, music and art which formed such a large part of their heritage.

Now, 116 years later, even though we’ve grown from 18 individuals to nearly 70,000 men, women and children, we’re still as dedicated to those same principles as we were in 1895.

So, with that, I want to encourage all our members reading this to celebrate Founders Day this Sunday, January! Wear your Sons of Norway pins, buttons, vests, jackets or hats all day, and when someone asks you what Sons of Norway is, show your pride and tell them all about the great things your lodge does in the community! Here at the HQ we’ll all be wearing our Sons of Norway member pins all week to commemorate the founding of our beloved organization!

If you or your lodge have any special plans for Founders Day, I’d love to hear all about it. Leave a comment below, tweet me at or post something on the Sons of Norway facebook page!

Monday, January 10, 2011

More Light!

So here we find ourselves swimming in the depths of a cold, dark winter. A time for most of us who work 8-5 gigs of utter darkness. It's dark when we wake up, it's dark when we head in to work and it's dark when we go home. It's been said that this is the time of year that tests a man's soul and forces him to look within for light or else he must go without.

It's during this time of year that I am often reminded of a powerful monologue from the old TV show, Northern Exposure.

"Gothe's final words: More Light. Ever since we crawled out of that primordial slime that's been our unifying cry, more light. Sunlight, torchlight, candlelight, neon incandescent lights have banished the darkness from out caves, illuminated our roads, the insides of our refridgerators. Big floods for the night games at... Soldier's Field, little tiny flashlights for those books we read under the covers when we're supposed to be asleep. Light is more than watts and footcandles, light is a metaphor. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet" "Rage! Rage against the dying of the light! "Lead kindly light amid the encircling gloom, lead thou me on. The night is dark and I am far from home, lead thou me on." "Arise shine for thy light has come!" Light is knowledge, light is life, light is light."

The short version is that right about now I think we all could use a little more light. To that end, I want to share a beautiful video of a sunrise over Norway with you in hopes that it will brighten your day a little bit. The video was first found by Viking Editor, Amy Boxrud and used for a blog post in 2010, but I think its ok in this case to recycle a little content--especially if it's for the good of our collective psyche. Enjoy!

Cineflex - Norwegian sunrise from Fuglefjellet on Vimeo.

Friday, January 7, 2011

More Reasons to Visit Norway

If you've picked up this month's issue of Viking, you know there are some great reasons to visit Norway. But don't take our word for it. recently named Norway among nine top travel destinations for 2011. In addition, the travel blog Wild Junket named Spitsbergen, on the Norwegian island of Svalbard, as one of the Europe's top five adventure destinations.

Nellie Huang of Wild Junket says: "For hard-core adventurers, head to Spitsbergen, located just some 900 km south of the North Pole. The exhilaration of sighting polar bear as they roam the ice in search of food, watching the playful activities of grey seals or observing a group of walrus are just some of the highlights of the area."

Intrigued? For more inspiration, check out the current issue of Viking. Canadian travel writer Colleen Friesen's feature, "Of Sled Dogs and King Crabs," will convince you to get off out of your comfort zone and experience winter in Norway's Arctic regions.

Need some help to get your planning underway? Viking writer Fran Howard interviewed Scandinavian travel guru Linda McCormick of Borton Overseas for her article, "Next Stop: Scandinavia." Check it out to discover Linda's top five Nordic destinations in addition to expert advice and insider's tips.

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 Nancy Carels.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

At the Movies

If you've had a chance to read the January issue of Viking magazine, you probably saw that the Nordic Lights Film Festival is happening this weekend, featuring films from throughout Scandinavia. The two that are especially intriguing to me are Troubled Water, a Norwegian film and Iceland's Future of Hope.

Below are the trailer's for both films:

Troubled Water

Future of Hope

In addition, there's a curious film that's making its way around some of the other film festivals, called The Troll Hunter, which appears to be in the same genre as the Blair Witch Project, in that it portrays a fictional documentary about, you guessed it, troll hunting.

If you've seen any of these films, I'd love to hear a review! Share your thoughts and comments below.