A glimpse at Nordic living

Paavo Numi Run. | Photo courtesy of Karina Linder

Vancouver is known to be a prominent hub for nurturing various cultures and traditions, including the heritage of Scandinavians. On Nov. 26, the Scandinavian Centre will be holding the Scandinavian Craft Fair. There will be vendors, Scandinavian merchandise and lunch at the event.

The craft fair is open to the public or anyone who’s interested in the cultures of these countries.

“You do not have to have any Scandinavian roots to be welcomed here,” says Carina Spencer, the President of the Scandinavian Centre. “We are all volunteers and more than happy to welcome anyone.”

According to Spencer, Scandinavia consists of five countries: Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

Spencer explains that the community was established in 1996 and has now been open for 21 years. She is proud of the community connections.

“Our countries’ history and future are closely knit together and we come from similar socioeconomic backgrounds, but we also have different languages and traditions. We are like a mini United Nations,” says Spencer.

The centre also holds celebrations for all different cultural events and celebrations in Scandinavian culture. Spencer adds that anyone interested in learning new languages is invited.

“We have schools for the children in our different languages and also adult language classes,” she says.

The Midsummer is the most popular celebration at the centre that occurs annually.

“Summers are short in the North. We dance around the maypole and rejoice that the longest day: the summer solstice,” says Spencer.

Participating in Scandinavian sports

Snow Fun Day |

If people prefer active sports, maybe a twist of Finland culture will be of interest. Karina Linder, President of the Vancouver Finlandia Club (VFC), says that the club was established in the 70’s to encourage people to be active in the community. The club holds different activities throughout the years, such as volleyball, bowling, Pesäpallo, a Finnish form ofbaseball, and many more.

“Dancing is also popular with the VFC members,” says Linder. “[And] there is a Finnish Folk dancing club called Purpurit.”

There are three main events held by the sports club annually. The first one is the Paavo Nurmi Run, which is a three, five or 10 kilometre run held in conjunction with the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival in June.

“This pays homage to the great Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi [known as the Flying Finn who was an Olympic champion in the 1920s], who held the record for the most Olympic gold medals for many, many years,” says Linden.

The second event is the Wife Carrying Contest. According to Linden, it is an event held at the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival based on the World Wife Carrying Championships held each year in Finland. The contest involves a “husband” carrying a “wife” through an obstacle course as they try to finish in the fastest time. Linden notes that partners don’t have to actually be married nor are the roles tied specifically to men and women. This is a very uniquely Finnish sport.

“Legend has it that back in days of yore, Finnish men would show their strength and worthiness by going to another village and carrying away a wife,” reveals Linden.

The third event is Lumileikkipäivä, which translates to “Snow Fun Day.” It entails a day of cross-country skiing or fun in the snow for the children in Finnish classes or VFC members. Lessons are offered and tubing and tobogganing are also available, according to Linden.

ScanSports, a new club that collaborates with other Scandinavian communities is coordinating activities for anyone interested.

For more details, visit www.scandinaviancentre.org.