A VERY NORDIC CHRISTMAS – HOW TO CELEBRATE LIKE A SCANDINAVIANMay 16, 2023 2023-05-31 11:23
A VERY NORDIC CHRISTMAS – HOW TO CELEBRATE LIKE A SCANDINAVIAN
A VERY NORDIC CHRISTMAS – HOW TO CELEBRATE LIKE A SCANDINAVIAN
Nordic and Scandinavian Holiday Yule Traditions
Winter holidays conjure images of toasty fireplaces, snowy landscapes, and happy families sharing food and happiness.It’s no wonder Scandinavians and Nordics are the world’s coziest. For months at a time, polar night descends upon several areas of the Nordic region. With endless mountains of snow, bone-chilling temperatures, and days with more twilight than sun, staying warm and bright is a necessity. Let’s learn more about the Christmas and winter holiday traditions of the Nordics and maybe take some inspiration to get through our own chilly months.
Winter holidays conjure images of toasty fires, snow-covered landscapes, and happy families sharing wonderful food and cheer. It’s no wonder Scandinavians and Nordics are the world’s coziest. For months at a time, polar night descends upon several areas of the Nordic region. With limitless mountains of snow, bone-chilling cold, and more darkness than daylight, staying warm and bright is essential. Let’s study about Nordic Christmas and winter holiday traditions and find some inspiration for our cold winters.
A Note on Religion in Scandinavia and the Nordics
Lutheran Christians dominate Scandinavian and Nordic holiday traditions.. Islam is the region’s second most popular religion.
Prior to Christianization of the area, Jul (Yule) was celebrated to observe the winter solstice with the drinking of ale and the sacrifice of livestock to the sir (Norse gods). Some Jul practices are still practiced today, albeit the bloody sacrifice has been replaced with a large, meat-centered banquet.
Christmas in Sweden
Christmas is a charitable holiday in Sweden. On Advent Sunday, four Sundays before Christmas, they light the first of four candles. Evergreen boughs, straw decorations, and plenty of candles adorn homes and stores. Because it turns dark by mid-afternoon this time of year, anything that offers light is appreciated.
Swedes commemorate St. Lucia’s Day on December 13th with illuminated processions led by a young woman clad in white with a candle crown on her head.
St. Knut’s Day, named for Denmark’s patron saint King Canute IV, concludes the Swedish holiday season on January 13.Julgransplundring is the day most Swedes take down and toss out their Christmas trees, usually out the window.
Holiday Traditions in Norway
In Norway, the Christmas season begins in November, generally with the staging of a Julebord feast. Most companies now schedule the meal at a restaurant or catered place instead of at home.
Spruce and fir boughs are left on doorsteps, and a sheaf of wheat is frequently hung outside. The Julebukk, a straw goat sculpture honoring Thor’s magical goats that pulled his chariot through the sky, is popular.
On the first Sunday of Advent at Longyearbyen, Svalbard, near the North Pole, the entire community lights the Christmas tree. They then walk to a special mail box where visitors can leave their Christmas wish lists for Julenissen (Norwegian Santa). Light and brightness are essential for Svalbard, which experiences 84 days of total darkness during the arctic night.
In Norway, gifts are unwrapped on Julaften (Christmas Eve), and Julaften meal is served at 5 p.m., as church bells sound to signal the arrival of Christmas. The traditional Norwegian Julaften cuisine differ according to area.’
Family and close friends get together on Christmas Day. Frste Juledags Frokost is a buffet with meats, fish, cheeses, jams, and a variety of traditional breads and pastries called julebakst. Friends are often asked to help finish the meal the next day. St. Kunt on January 7th marks end of the Norwegian holiday, but gisladag or Tjuendedag on January 13th is popular.
Celebrating Christmas in Denmark
Christmas in Denmark, like in Sweden and Norway, begins at the beginning of Advent, with Juleaften (Christmas Eve) as the primary celebration. Evening meals of roast pig, duck, or goose are served with brown gravy, caramelized potatoes, and cabbage. Cold rice pudding, risalamande, is served with hot cherry sauce and one distinctive nut. Almond finders get marzipan pigs..After dinner, people drink Glgg and sing and dance around the Juletrae (Christmas tree).
On Christmas Day, only immediate family is invited to Familiejulefrokost (Family Yule Lunch), which is sometimes sponsored by employers, schools, or towns during the month of December. Dessert includes cheeses and fruit, as well as additional risalamande, smkager (Danish cookies), and nuts.
Children in Denmark refer to Santa Claus as Julemanden (The Yule Man), who is accompanied by julenisser (Yule elves), for whom saucers of milk and risalamande are left out on Christmas Eve.
Finnish Holiday Celebrations
The winter holidays in Finland begin a little later than in Norway, Sweden, or Denmark. Finnish celebrations begin on December 21st and end on January 13th with St. Knut’s Day.
Rather than Yule, Finnish Christmas evolved from the ancient harvest festival of kekri, which was historically observed on November 1st. During kekri, a man would dress as the joulupukki (Christmas goat), complete with goat horns, a sheepskin coat, and a birch bark mask. This practice is remembered in current times by the ornamentation of straw goats and the hanging of the himmeli (a geometric mobile made of straw).
Outside, evergreen boughs are draped, trees are erected, and ice lamps and candles may be discovered. Christmas music may be heard everywhere, and singing Christmas carols is so significant to Finns that most popular Finnish musical artists have released at least one Christmas album.
A proclamation of Christmas peace is made in Turku’s Old Market Square, a custom that dates back to the 17th century and declares 20 days of peace for all Finns. On Christmas Eve, Finns frequently visit saunas and leave food and drink for the elves.
On Christmas Eve, Finns will also lay presents and lit candles on the graves of loved ones to honor them.
Yule in Iceland
Iceland must receive the title for the most intriguing winter holiday traditions. Jól, an Icelandic celebration that lasts from Advent to January 6th, has some intriguing stories.
Thirteen days before Afangadagur (Christmas Eve), Icelandic youngsters place their shoes outside the window for the jólasveinarnir (the Yule Lads) to drop gifts in. Good children get sweets, but bad children get potatoes in their shoes. Getting a potato is made worse by the fact that Icelanders believe their term for potato, kartafla, to be one of the ugliest things to speak in Icelandic.
Here are thirteen jólasveinarnir, and each of them does something different to get into trouble, like stealing food, licking pots or spoons, slamming doors, or eating candles. They are the children of Grla, the bad troll who will kidnap bad kids and cook them alive in her big pot.
Here are thirteen jólasveinarnir, each of which does something different to cause trouble, like stealing food, licking pots or spoons, slamming doors, or eating candles. They are the children of Grla, the evil troll who will take bad kids and cook them alive in her big pot.
As if that isn’t enough motivation for youngsters to do their duties, they are also told stories about Jólakötturinn (the Yule cat), who would eat them if they don’t receive new garments before Christmas night.