Looking to acquire some new booze education in 2017? The American Swedish Historical Museum, located in FDR Park at 1900 Pattison Ave., is gearing up to debut a new exhibit that’ll offer you just what you need.
From January 28–September 17, 2017, you can explore the thorough drinking culture and traditions of Scandinavia with the Skål: Scandinavian Spirits exhibit.
For example, did you ever wonder where the term skål—now used as a toast, like “cheers!”—derived from? Some claim that the word skål has a root in the skulls of the vanquished, from which Viking warriors would drink to celebrate their victory. Or, is that a grisly tale?
Uncover the above, plus how Norse god Odin was credited to teaching humans how to brew beer. Drinking beer eventually took form of worship and was offered to the deities, as well as used for celebration of battle victories and sometimes in the form of drinking challenges.
Then, around the 1500s, the stiff spirits made their way into society when brännvin—a term for vodka or distilled liquor—became known through Scandinavia. Primarily distributed as medicine, but you’ll see that a wider use had become common by 1551 when King Christian III of Denmark-Norway attempted to ban serving brännvin on holidays to prevent people from attending church while drunk. By the 1600s, brännvin was widely available through home-based distilling. These selective infusions became what we now know as aquavit, which is regularly served with herring at any decent smörgåsbord.
If you’re thirsty for these beer and booze histories—and more!—be sure to plant this exhibit’s opening on your calendar for later this month. Expect over 50 historic and contemporary artifacts related to Scandinavian drinking traditions to be on display from the Museum of Danish America (Elk Horn, IA), American Swedish Institute (Minneapolis, MN), Swedish American Museum (Chicago, IL), the Nordic Heritage Museum (Seattle, WA), and the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum (Decorah, IA). It may be the first collaborative project to involve such a broad spectrum of Scandinavian-American museums—it is as if all gathered around the table.
In addition to the exhibit, an exclusive aquavit tasting will be offered at the museum on February 25, 3–6 p.m. Aquavit samples, refreshments and the tour are included with general admission, free for Museum members.
For more information on the exhibition and the Museum itself, visit americanswedish.org or call (215) 389-1776. This special exhibition is included with general admission: $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and students, $5 for children 5-11, free for children under 5 and for members.