Hair candles? Singing about an Italian saint? Lusekatter? It’s Lucia Day in Scandinavia today.
Every year on December the 13th you’ll see thousands of Scandinavian children (and adults) with white dresses and candles in their hair, singing the Lucia song in schools, kindergartens, and workplaces.
This is in memory of Lucia of Syracusa who suffered the martyr death in year 300. This is kind of odd given that Lucia was a Catholic saint–and the Scandinavian countries are very far from Catholic.
The Lucia song
I don’t think you can find many Scandinavians who can’t sing at least some of the Lucia song–the song we sing in the Lucia procession.
He broke her nose when they were children. Now he’s telling her to be his wife. Telling her, not asking her.
Borghild doesn’t have much but she has her honor. The only way to keep it is to challenge Eivind, the new jarl, to a holmgang.
Eivind is home from his long trip abroad. He’s laid claim to the throne, now he needs his childhood friend to marry him. Borghild is as proud as he remembered.
A challenge? Let the battle begin.
This was the blurb from my new short story The Challenge – a Viking Romance.
It’s a part of the great Historical Romance Anthology Kissing and other Scandalous Pastimes. Kissing and other Scandalous Pastimes has ten wonderful historical romances. All the proceeds go to breast cancer research.
I’ve been fascinated by Vikings since I was a kid. When I grew up in Scandinavia there was always another excavation site, another Viking festival, and a new piece of information uncovered about the proud men and women who roamed these lands 1000 years ago.
What fascinates me the most is how men and women had equally strong roles back then. Both men and women fought–men, probably, more than women–and women carried the keys to the family treasures.
Women could hold important positions. They could also get a divorce–and keep their fortunes when divorced–if their husbands were violent, if he was gone for too long or if he didn’t satisfy her in bed. Actually, the two latter were connected because “being gone for too long” meant “not being there to satisfy her in bed.”
Read more about Vikings on my blog
Read this blog for more random tidbits about Vikings–and modern-day Scandinavians.
Eversince the grave of a Viking warrior was found in Birka, Sweden, in 1878, archeologists have assumed it was the grave of a man. Because Viking warriors were all men, right?
In 2017 a research article with a genetic analysis of the person found in the Swedish grave was published. It turned out it was actually a woman they’d found.
Earlier this year the same researchers have published a new article about what it really means that it was a woman who was found in the grave and about how we shouldn’t make assumptions based on whatever was buried with the dead body. Women were buried with swords and men with pots and pans.
The original 2017 article received quite a lot of attention after it was published. Experts had assumed the Birka grave was a male grave based on the findings in the grave. The grave contained swords, shields and 25 arrows, which led archelogists to assume they’d found the grave of a warrior. And a Viking warrior had to be a man.
Wrong. The grave was the grave of a woman, but she was still a warrior.
Researchers assume this woman was a very high ranking warrior based on the number of weapons found in her grave. Of the 1100 graves found in Birka, this was the grave containing the second largest number of weapons.
We need to be careful about using modern gender interpretations when we look at how Vikings lived. Maybe genders were interpreted more fluently than today? Maybe everyone had more roles than one? Maybe you could live your life based on the social roles of the other gender? Maybe you being a warrior was based on how good you were with your sword, not what you had between your legs?
This is far from the only Viking grave where archeologists have made gender assumptions based on what was found in the grave. It’s also not the only grave where these assumptions have turned out to be wrong.
The most famous grave was probably the two people found with the Oseberg ship. Archeologists were baffled when they found out the two people buried in this huge and important way–they were buried on a ship that could still sail and the grave contained large animal sacrifices–were actually women. Immediately the women were said to have been the mother and wife of someone important, not someone important in their own right.
It wasn’t until recently researchers started asking themselves why this couldn’t be the grave of someone important in their own right. Why couldn’t one or both women be a great chief or a powerful religious figure?
We still don’t know exactly who these two women were, but the assumptions made about them, tell us more about how we look at genders today than what the Vikings did.
Have you ever been in a situation where you just wanted to shout “FUCK” at the top of your lungs, but you couldn’t do it for some reason? Try the Viking word Sorðinn instead. It means the same, but you’ll probably insult fewer people (unless you know a lot of Vikings – in that case, I need to come visit you).
You may wonder how that funny looking letter in the middle of Sorðinn is pronounced. It’s like a very soft D. Put your tongue between your teeth when you say the letter and you’ll have the correct pronunciation. If you chew on your tongue, you’ll have yet another reason to say Sorðinn.
Sometimes “fuck” just doesn’t do it. Your world has turned against you, someone has her sword against your throat and you need to call out something stronger.
Try Streð mik. It means fuck me and can be used in those instances where you need a stronger Viking curse word. Someone bumped your elbow and now you have mead all over your new fur. Or you were just beaten in a friendly holmgang. “Friendly” – Streð mik!
Now we’re calling out the big shots. The old god Thor is being called upon and you don’t want to do that for any old thing that angers you.
Við hamri Þórs! means by Thor’s hammer and as you probably know, Thor has a close relationship to his hammer. Choose that Viking curse word only for the tough situations, like when your ship landed in the wrong fjord and instead of some weak monks, you’re up against warriors armed to the teeth.
You’ve probably noticed that this Viking swearword has another foreign letter, but it’s an easy one to pronounce. Þórs = Thor’s. Þ = Th.
I’m not sure I dare mention this Viking curse word. It’s a really sad one and can only be used on the very special occasions like when that easily conquered enemy turns out to be the one slaughtering you and your men and women.
Við dauði Þórs! means By Thor’s death and it almost breaks my heart to type it out.
Let’s move over to a few nicer Viking words that can be used without the risk of anyone grabbing for their swords.
Framt means smooth and can be used whenever something is nice or even great. Like when the mead is sweet and the women/men are sweeter.
Flesk fellr í kál mín
Are you lucky? Did you get something good? Did you get the last mead–you know the drops where you have the most potent honey?
Here are the words you can use to describe your luck: Flesk fellr í kál mín.
Where do all these words come from
You’re probably wondering how we know any Viking curse words. Vikings didn’t write much down. They were an oral people, telling their stories from generation to generation, keeping their memories in all the stories.
The Viking stories were written down in the sagas, but that wasn’t until several centuries after the last Viking had died. The language used in the sagas did not include any curse words.
All the words mentioned here are words we imagine Vikings might have used based on what we know of their language and their way of life.
They’ve all been made for a very interesting Norwegian HBO series named Beforeigners. It’s about people from the stone age, Vikings and people from the 1800s who suddenly pop up in our world. One of the main characters is a female Viking who does curse a lot so they had to make up som curse words for her.
A review for the story Cosplay in the anthology LOVE IN BLOOM
My heart skipped a beat whenever I read a review where my short story was mention. Luckily, all the reviews were positive <3
Five star reviews for the anthology
The whole anthology had some amazing reviews. And I can certainly see why. I didn’t get to read most of the stories until after LOVE IN BLOOM was published, but I was amazed with how great they all were. Steampunk battleship captains, vampires, police officers, dog handlers and cosplayers all found true love in the spring.
One of the five star reviews for LOVE IN BLOOM
Another five-star review for LOVE IN BLOOM
Buy a book, support a great cause
LOVE IN BLOOM has been such a fun project to be a part of, especially for a newbie like me. I’ve learned so much from all the more experienced writers in the project.
It was also great to be a part of a project that can actually help people. Every cent we make from LOVE IN BLOOM will be donated to breast cancer research and that means a lot to me. Several of the reviewers seemed to like the charity part of the book.
Everything we make from LOVE IN BLOOM will be donated to breast cancer research
Cosplay – a Scandinavian romance
My short story, Cosplay, is about online friends who meet offline for the first time. It takes place in Norway, but the heroine is from Arizona, USA. She’s traveled all the way to Norway to meet her online friend, but how well does she really know her friend?
How well do you know your online friend? Cosplay – a short story by Thyra Dane
Don’t be fooled by the snow everywhere. Norwegians have decided that it’s spring now, no matter how deep the snow is.
There is still snow in my garden
How can you tell it’s spring? Here are five signs of spring in Norway.
1, Everyone talks about the sun
We’ve been sun-deprived for months and when it’s finally here–even in small glimpses–we talk about it. You’ll also see people standing randomly in streets and at bus stops with their faces turned towards the sun. They are trying to catch a few rays, or more specifically, they’re trying to get those 20 minutes of sun we’re all recommended to have every day.
At workplaces and among friends people start to talk about those 20 minutes. “Did you get your 20 minutes of sun today?” <– that’s the big question. We’re all low on Vitamin D after a long, dark winter and we’re looking to the sun to fix that.
Sunscreen is definitely not in use. Not yet. Maybe not ever. We need those Vitamin Ds, you know!
2, People start wearing shorts
Yesterday, I saw the first shorts-wearing Norwegian which is one of the clearest signs that spring is here. Yes, the temperatures are freezing and yes, there is still snow. But this guy had seen a glimpse of the sun and that meant digging out the shorts from the bottom drawer. Sun = shorts = spring, no matter how cold it is. It’s a Norwegian fact.
Spring is the season where you’ll meet people in heavy coats and boots next to people in shorts and sneakers.
3, Bicyclists are everywhere
Some masochists will ride their bike all year around, but spring is the season where everyone will pull out their bike–and their bike shorts–and catch a few sunrays while getting from A to B.
4, The “utepils” season begins
“Utepils”–or outdoor beer–is one of the most important signs of spring in Norway. The restaurants will set their tables and chairs outside as soon as the snow is gone and everyone will enjoy their “utepils”. The first utepils always has to be photographed and shared in social media–or it didn’t happen.
My Facebookfeed is currently filled with pictures of people drinking outside. And here is a picture of me with my beer in the snow:
Have an “utepils” with me
5, Norwegians follow the snow and seek to the mountains
One would think Norwegians would appreciate the spring and enjoy not having to shovel snow anymore. Don’t be fooled. Norwegians may enjoy their shorts and bikes and sun and utepils, but they also enjoy the harsh climate. They enjoy feeling at one with nature, feeling like Nansen or Amundsen working their way towards the Poles, fighting the cold and the snow.
Most Norwegians have a family cabin in the mountains. Spring and Easter are high seasons for visiting this cabin, shoveling snow and skiing, and feeling like true Norwegians.
The joy of the Norwegian cabin
Digging the door free at the cabin
Do you want to read a romance about spring in Norway?
Do you want to read romance from Scandinavia? Or maybe from North Carolina? How about some Steampunk? We have it all–and so much more–in the new anthology Love in Bloom.
Love in Bloom has short stories that are steamy, short stories that are sweet, and everything in between. The best part? You’ll support breast cancer research if you buy the book as all proceeds will be donated.
Love in Bloom stories
Here are all the great stories, and a little bit about the authors behind the anthology:
Thyra Dane – Cosplay
Thyra Dane loves the freezing Scandinavian winters. She was born in Denmark but moved north to Norway where she lives with her husband and their two teenagers. She runs a blog (this one!) where she writes about everything from Vikings to How to Date a Scandinavian.
Charlotte has one close friend. Unfortunately, that close friend lives in Norway, and Charlotte has never seen her before. A cosplay convention in Oslo is Charlotte’s chance at finally meeting her online BFF, but when the masks come off, Charlotte is in for a big surprise.
Thyra Dane – Cosplay
Sherri L. Hollister – R&R
Sherri Lupton-Hollister, author of the Leeward Files romantic suspense series, dreamed of being a romance writer. Later, she learned she enjoyed murder and blowing things up but that might have something to do with raising six sons. Married to an almost-reformed bad boy, Sherri and her mechanic husband enjoy camping, biking, swimming and hiking along the shores of eastern North Carolina. They are active with their family and in their community.
Sherri is the chairperson of the Pamlico Writers’ Group and the hostess of Book in a Week with her local Romance Writers of America group.
A career ending case, a beautiful young police officer and the healing waters of the rural North Carolina shores. Agent Alejandro Hernandez shouldn’t be thinking about romance, he should be trying to salvage his what’s left of his career.
Restless, Officer Jamie Smith, is a small-town cop looking for something more. She never expected to find it with her brother’s handsome and haunted partner, FBI agent Alejandro Hernandez.
When a crime boss bent on revenge comes looking for Alejandro, anyone close to him could end up dead. Will he be able to save the innocents this time, or will history repeat itself?
Sherri L Hollister – R&R
Miranda Jameson – Cherry Blossom & Blood Bonds
Miranda Jameson grew up in India immersed in stories of gods, goddesses, elephant-riding princes and bejewelled princesses. She firmly believes there is magic all around us if we only take a minute to look.
She now lives in North Yorkshire, England, where she translates her passion for art, history, mythology and travel, into writing action-packed paranormal romances with all the ‘feels’.
She loves honourable badass heroes with undiscovered depths, and smart dauntless heroines who can save themselves.
When not clicking away on her laptop, she runs mum’s taxi service and the bank of mum. In other words, she’s got teenagers. Coffee, gin, and good friends, keep her sane.
Kids, duty, politics, and grieving – a vampire’s life is a lot like yours. Vampire couple Henri and Ysabeau have enjoyed one hundred and three years of mated bliss. They’re unbreakable, aren’t they?
But happily ever afters aren’t all hearts and flowers. When life, death, and the stuff in between drive this powerful couple apart, fate and a good friend may need to come to the rescue.
Sometimes, all you need is love.
Miranda Jameson – Cherry Blossoms & Blood Bonds
Suki McMinn – The Iris
Suki McMinn writes contemporary paranormal fiction. Drop Dead Gorgeous, the first novel in her L.A. Vamps Series, is an adult vampire romance with an L.A. supermodel who bites. Suki’s Hogback Series begins with The Vampire of Waller County. These novelettes are cozy vampire mysteries with sweet romance and humor. “The Iris” takes place in Hogback, but there are (*clears throat*) adult activities.
After working as a model and commercial actor in Los Angeles and a newspaper columnist in North Carolina, Suki now lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and dogs and spends her summers in Tryon, North Carolina. She’s a member of the Desert Rose chapter of the Romance Writers of America and a founding member of Tryon Writers. Suki writes nonfiction as Susan McNabb.
Jackson was once just the pottery teacher Amber drooled over, but now he’s invited her into his world. Will she take a chance on a new life, or will Jackson’s dark secret turn her dream into a nightmare?
Suki McMinn – The Iris
Rachell Nichole – Blooming for Sir
Rachell Nichole is the contemporary erotic romance author of over a dozen romances, including The Marietta Hotels Series, The K Club series, and the Dommes by Night series. She loves creating memorable characters and putting them through the paces on their discovery for and journey to love. Rachell lives in Pennsylvania with a mountain of books and the man of her dreams.
It’s springtime in Spartan Nevada, and that means it’s time for the K Club’s 2nd annual fetish ball to raise money for a good cause. This year, one of the club’s owners has chosen a cause close to his heart – the Madison Foundation that helped him when he was a homeless LGBT youth.
Syneca Madison Lexington is delighted Dusty wants to help her foundation, particularly since she’s quickly running out of the trust fund money she could still access when her own parents disowned her for being bisexual. But a submissive auction? She doesn’t know if that’s something she can get behind or not.
When Jensen Elmwood enters the K Club, intent on purchasing himself a submissive for the night, the last thing he expects is to run into the one woman he’s loved since he was a kid, the same woman who’s been engaged to his brother since high school.
When the sparks reignite between them, can a springtime romance bloom into something more? Or will their past hurts and old family influences tear them apart?
Rachell Nichole – Blooming for Sir
Catherine Stein – Love is in the Airship
Catherine Stein is the author of sassy, sexy stories set during the Victorian and Edwardian eras and full of action, adventure, magic, and fantastic technologies. Catherine lives in Michigan with her husband and three rambunctious girls. She can often be found dressed in clothing that was purchased at a Renaissance Festival, drinking copious amounts of tea.
Her Potions and Passions series takes place in a Victorian-era world where magic potions drive technology and feisty heroines and dashing heroes risk it all for life and love.
Things to remember when fleeing your own wedding:
🗹 mechanical serpents could lead you astray
🗹 accidental kidnappings always involve the former boy-next-door
🗹 sky pirates hold grudges
🗹 sometimes all love needs is a second chance
🗹 Happily Ever After. Guaranteed.
Catherine Stein – Love is in the Airship
Jess Taylor – The Rain in Spring Falls Mainly …
Jess Taylor is a freelance ghost writer living in southern West Virginia. While most of her work is on lockdown with non-disclosure agreements, she specializes in all things romance. She has a fondness for good coffee, good tea, and good friends. She’s the proud human for three rescue dogs, Mugsie, Delilah, and Scruff. She possesses a Bachelor’s degree in English from Concord University and welcomes new friends on Facebook.
Tara is a woman in desperate need of a love makeover. While she is successful in her occupation and hobbies, she has a few phobias which keep her out of reach from anyone interested in dating her. Enter Laura. In a case of mistaken identity, Laura gives Tara hope for a future, but will her own cold feet destroy the relationship before it begins? Can these two women overcome all the obstacles in their own hearts to dance together when the rain falls mainly on the plain?
Jess Taylor – The Rain in Spring Falls Mainly …
Lara Temple – Second Chance at Stonybrook
Lara Temple writes strong, sexy regency romances for Harlequin Mills & Boon about complex individuals who give no quarter but do so with plenty of passion.
Lara lives with her husband and two children who are very good about her taking over the kitchen table for her writing (so she can look out over the garden and dream). She loves to travel (especially to places steeped in history) and read as many books as possible.
Years ago Sophie fell in love with billionaire Adam Tarrant while on a journalistic assignment in Brazil, only to discover she was nothing more than a spring fling. Eight years later she finds herself forced to share a cottage with him in the Lake District. Will a weekend with the man who broke her heart mean more pain, or a new beginning?
Lara Temple – Second Chance at Stonybrook
Anna Volkin – French Kisses
Anna Volkin loves fresh starts disguised as new challenges. Writing is her newest one: as she takes snippets of inspiration from reality, her brain tricks her into building stories upon them.
Her contemporary romances are seasoned with a pinch of sass, a spoonful of heat and a dash of humor, serving up the happy endings her characters deserve.
An uptight fashion designer who needs to get his dog under control. A tough dog trainer who can’t tell fuchsia from magenta to save her life. Do they stand a dog’s chance at love?
Which Scandinavian winners of the Eurovision Song Contest do you remember? Bobbysocks? Olsen Brothers? Surely, you remember ABBA?
Denmark and Norway have chosen the winners of this year’s national Eurovision song contests and Sweden will pick theirs next Saturday. I figured I would celebrate this by looking back at all the Scandinavian winners of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Abba won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974
The last Scandinavian winner was Sweden’s Måns Zelmerlöv with Heroes in 2015
Two years before, in 2013, Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest won with Only Teardrops
Just one year earlier, in 2012, Sweden won with Loreen’s Euphoria
In 2009 Norway won with Alexander Rybak’s Fairytale
Four winners in six years – impressive! But before Alexander Rybak we have to all the way back to 2000 to find another Scandinavian winner.