Posted by maggiemyklebust
I put up my Christmas tree last night -thats right, I broke tradition and put it up early this year. Lets just say I needed some early Christmas cheer. My mother puts her’s up the day after Thanksgiving and it stands there until after New Year. I love Christmas, but thats just a little too much Holiday cheer for me. I guarantee we’re the first house in Egersund Norway to have our Juletre (xmas tree) up -oh they’ll decorate, but the tree won’t go up before the 23rd. I’m quite the American-rebel this year.
I know its a bit morbid, but every time I pack away the ornaments I wonder if I’ll be here the following year to unpack them again… A lot can happen between one christmas and the next, right? Go away bad thoughts, it’s Christmas!
For the sake of my marriage, my husband and I bought a pre-lit (lights permanently on) artificial tree, in America and brought it with us home to Norway. It would take all day in the freezing cold for me to find a tree that was good enough and I hated all the needles dropping on my floor. My husband and I had some of our worst fights over stringing lights -hence the pre-lit, fake tree.
One summer while visiting my family in New Jersey we went to a pool store in search of diving masks for my sons and found a Christmas tree clearance sale. Turns out, during the winter the Pool Supply Store, becomes a Winter Holiday Supply Store and all left over trees are sold half price the following summer. Its been ten years since we hauled that tree home and it still smells like chlorine. Ho… Ho… Ho…
Norwegians are very patriotic and love their flag. They fly it for all occasions, but never after dark. If it’s even near dark and we haven’t taken it down, neighbors will start calling to remind us. They even hang paper flags on their Christmas tree’s and that’s one tradition I like to keep. Along side the flags of my adopted country hang all the ornaments of my past. A collection of sentimental reminders. Some from my children, some from places we visited and places we’ve lived.
Have a peek…
Posted by maggiemyklebust
Today is the first Sunday in Advent and the Christmas season in Norway has officially begun. The Norwegians call it, Juletid. Four purple candles, symbolizing anticipation and preparation are progressively lit each Sunday counting down the four weeks until Christmas.
A wall hanging with twenty-four numbered pockets representing the days in December, before Christmas is used as an Advents Kalender. The pockets are filled with little treats and sweets for the children to take each day.
It’s not typical for Norwegians to put Christmas lights on their houses, although they do sometimes light up a front yard tree with white lights. They also put electric candles in their windows.
December is a dark month and the sun can no longer be seen in the North. I live in the South and while the sun never gets very high, we still manage to see daylight. Lighting candles, playing music and buckets of tea, help a lot during this time. By March, the days will start getting longer and by June, we’ll be going to bed with the sun still shining… It’s a pretty fair trade.
This is also the time of year when Norwegians like to bake Christmas cookies. They’re called Småkaker, which translated means small cakes. Since I mostly bake American cookies, I went around to few of my Norwegian friends (Marita & Anja) and took pictures of their cookies. I even got to sample and take some home. There are many different types, here are just a few:
Sandnotter (Sand nuts) which are not made with nuts, but with potato flour!
Kakemenn (Cake men) which can be cut into different figures, here are some pigs:
Fyltekjekks (filled cookies) two wafers filled with icing. And Brunepinner (Brown sticks) which is a brown sugar cookie and my favorite.
December 23, is called Lille julaften, or little Christmas Eve. This is when most Norwegians decorate their tree and eat Risengrøt (rice pudding). The grown ups drink Gløgg, which is a mulled wine with spices, nuts and fruit… And sometimes a dash of spirit (brandy, rum or vodka).
On the evening of December 24, families gather for a festive dinner. A traditional Christmas dinner for this area of Norway is; Pinnekjøtt (lamb chops) Ribbe (rib roast) and a white sausage, winter vegetables, cranberry sauce and rich gravey. In my house it’s turkey (after all – we did miss out on Thanksgiving) Riskrem for dessert, it’s made by mixing whipped cream and cold rice pudding together and topped off with a sweet red-berry sauce. There is an almond hidden in the bowl and who ever finds the almond in their dish, wins a prize.
Afterwards, the children wait while their father takes a quick trip to the neighbor… And that’s when Julenissen (Santa) always seems to come knocking on their window. They open the door, invite him in and giggle at the sight of him.
Julenissen, unlike Santa is neither fat nor jolly, he wears a red robe, a mask and mumbles when he talks. His first words are always, “Are there any good children in here?”
He open’s his sack, hands out a present to each child and shakes their hand. After asking for directions to one of the children’s friends houses, he leaves and their father returns, cursing for having missed Julenissen, AGAIN!
From the first day of December until the last, I play Christmas music, in my house and in my car, non-stop! I love it.
En Stjerne Skinner I Natt (A Star Shines Tonight) is my favorite Norwegian Christmas Carol and is sung by The Oslo Gospel Choir. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do…
God Jul (Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays)