Blog Archives

Norwegian Holiday Traditions

Princess netbutikk

Princess julebutikk

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.

DSC03576

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.

DSC03567

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.

DSC03548

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:

Pepperkaker (Gingerbread)

DSC03541

Sandnotter (Sand nuts) which are not made with nuts, but with potato flour!

DSC03594

Kakemenn (Cake men) which can be cut into different figures, here are some pigs:

DSC03601

Fyltekjekks (filled cookies) two wafers filled with icing. And Brunepinner (Brown sticks) which is a brown sugar cookie and my favorite.

DSC03605

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!

DSC01538

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)

Advertisements

Jane Austin saved my dinner party!

Last night my husband and I threw a dinner party for ten. Four times a year we get together with his old fotball (soccer) buddies and their wives for an evening of good food, fine wine and lots of reminiscing. I’m not kidding either, these guys can remember exactly who scored what goal at which game, way back in the 1970’s and 80’s!

Last night it was our turn to host. We got up early, I headed straight for the kitchen and my husband out for a bike ride, (he’s training for a race). For me a dinner party starts weeks before, as I pour over recipes and table setting ideas. Choose which wine to serve, order flowers, iron table clothes, clean the house and decide what to wear.

I always try to choose a meal I can make in advance, this way I avoid the stress of cooking while guests are already sitting in my living room. I found a recipe for Prince William’s favorite Cottage Pie in the wedding issue of People Magazine last year and figured if it was good enough for William, it would be good enough for us. Just to be sure, I gave it a trial run (very tasty). For color, I’d make a big salad with every different veggie I could find (I hate boring salads). For desert, I decided to make an apple & blueberry custard pie and serve it warm with vanilla ice cream.

I doubled all the recipes and stood cooking, chopping and baking from morning until late afternoon. Cleaned up the kitchen, set the table and got myself ready. The whole time in good company, as Mia and Khloe (my furry companions) sat by my side – waiting for something to drop. Meanwhile my husband finally got home from his ride and was quickly punished for being gone all day – with a list of things to do before our guests arrived.

One hour until count down we locked the dogs in our bedroom, so I could run the vacuum one last time. Heaven forbid someone find a dog hair, at a dinner party. Mia and Khloe are not used to being locked away, and took this very personally. They cried, barked and scratched to get out. I gave them treats, talked to them and even yelled at them to stop, which is something I never do. As my guests were coming in I could still hear them, I had to think quick or they would ruin everything!

Then I remembered… Whenever I don’t feel good and need quiet time, I’ll pop a Jane Austin film in the DVD player and lie on the sofa all day. The dogs seem to understand this and will always lie quietly next to me. I made a quick dash to the bedroom, chose Pride and Prejudice (its a long one) put it on and hoped for the best.

Sure enough, Jane Austin to the rescue! I’m pretty certain she could tame the wild beast in anyone, Khloe and Mia were as good as gold. The food was delicious, we talked about goals, injuries and penalty kicks, everyone had a great time and in reward for being good, the girls were later allowed to join the party.

That is after their film was finished, of course.