In Finland, the afternoon of Christmas eve is reserved for a visit to the special Christmas sauna, joulusauna. So to get ready for Julefest and other holiday celebrations, we’re taking a virtual trip to the oldest working sauna on the West Coast: the Finnish sauna in the Museum’s East Garden.
While the sauna won’t be open for Julefest, you can visit the outside after getting your aebleskiver and coffee in the East Garden. Learn more about how our sauna made it to the National Nordic Museum in this article by Fred Poyner IV.
Outnumbering people nearly two-to-one (even today), the Icelandic sheep is a long-fleeced, sturdy beast that resembles—after a summer of wandering the high moors and deep valleys—a wild, dirty, ill-tempered mop. The Icelandic sheep’s coat is the very thing that makes it unique and valuable; instead of a single layer of downy fleece, these sheep are dual-coated. The outer layer (tog) is coarse, long, and water-repellent. The inner layer (Þel) is soft and insulating. And author Justin Allan Spencer argues that this humble sheep made it possible for the Vikings to survive in Iceland.
The importance of knitting to Icelandic culture also is revealed in Jólakötturinn (The Yule Cat). This giant and fearsome beast is said to devour any child who doesn’t receive a piece of newly knitted clothing on Christmas Eve.
Hans Christian Andersen's most famous character may be the Little Mermaid, but learn more about his futuristic fairy tales in the first lecture of our Scandinavian 30 series. Additional free lectures look at the impact of climate change on trolls, what the Vikings thought about doomsday, Hygge, Tom of Finland, Norwegian crime fiction, and popular North European proverbs. There's something for everyone in our popular second Thursday lecture series.
We spoke to author Ola Larsmo about the inspirations for his historical novel Swede Hollow. Recently translated from Swedish by Tiina Nunnally and published by University of Minnesota Press, Larsmo's American book tour launches at the National Nordic Museum on October 6.
Leslie Anderson joined the National Nordic Museum team as Director of Collections, Exhibitions and Programs in September. “What attracted me to working at the National Nordic Museum is that it offers enduring content for all audiences—the story of Nordic immigration is the story of America,” said Anderson.