Gledelig Jul...or Merry Christmas

Christmas is my absolute FAVORITE time of the year. It's the anticipation leading up to it really, with the decorations (I decorate A LOT), and the lights, and the baked goods, and the parties, and the giving, ooooooooh and the Christmas carols. Yes, I am that person that turns the radio to STAR 105.7 as soon as Halloween is over. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of hustle and bustle, and having kids creates more hustle and bustle, but the kids are happy because Santa is watching. I want my kids to have memories and traditions of the days leading up to Christmas so we bake cookies, we pick out presents for each other, we shop and donate to those that may need a little extra help, we read Christmas books, we celebrate with our loved ones, and we discuss the true meaning of Christmas.
So, what is Christmas like at The Nordic Pineapple? Greg, Kjersten, and Coco decorate a lot too, both inside and out. It's quite beautiful, they have lots of trees, and mantles to decorate. These are some of my favorite rooms, they are just so cozy and festive! They invite Santa and his reindeer to the Inn at the beginning of December and share him with the community by offering children a chance to whisper their Christmas wishes, decorate sugar cookies, and warm up with cocoa.
Little Girl with Santa

They gather with Kjersten's sister and her husband and their kids on Christmas eve for dinner and handmade gifts, things like jams, fudge, cookies, scarves, t-shirts, etc. Then they get a little competitive and play poker (for bragging rights only, no money) some of the family are terrible poker players (cough, Kjersten). The younger kids get to open one gift on Christmas eve and it is always pjs for them to sleep in and open gifts in on Christmas morning. The have gone away from giving "things" for Christmas and instead give "experiences," even if it is out of their comfort zone, it's all about making memories with each other. They also host the Martis family that has been staying with them over the Christmas holiday since they first opened, and they look forward to it every year.

But what is Christmas like in Norway? Is it the same as Michigan? It does sound a bit like ours, but they seem to follow the Advent timeline better. For example, they don't start decorating after Halloween like we do. Once Advent starts, that's when the streets are decorated and lights go up. Organizations book their Christmas parties, just like Michiganders do, but it's called julebord. How come we don't have a fancy name for this time period before Christmas? Oh, I know, it's called "stress" just kidding! Maybe we should come up with a name that describes this time period, post a comment if you have a good idea. 

Then on December 23rd, Norwegians also do some of the same things we do, like decorate the Christmas tree, and make gingerbread houses, but they also eat risengrynsgrøt a hot rice pudding with sugar and cinnamon and butter, and if you are the lucky one who finds the almond in your dish, you win a marzipan pig! Rural Norwegians also place a bowl of the pudding outside for the barn gnome. I have questions about these barn gnomes, but we'll dive into that another time. Is risengrynsgrøt our equivalent of egg nog? Usually when I finish my egg nog, I win a stomach ache from the heavy cream. Totally not the same! You can find more information on Christmas food and drink in Norway here.

Christmas buffet set with cookies and 2 red christmas trees
On Christmas Eve some of us in Michigan are still rushing around trying to find last minute Christmas presents before church service, I have to believe that this is how it is in Norway, and many other countries too. However, once 5:00 pm strikes, or dings, or buzzes, most families in Norway follow the tradition of closing shops and businesses, going to church service, staying in to eat dinner with relatives, and opening presents afterwards. That being said, most people use jul to refer to the week stretching from Christmas Eve to New Year's Eve. In the states Christmas Day is the focal point, but in Norway it's Christmas Eve. And last but not least, there is a different type of gift bearing man that appears in Norway, Julenisse.

Good Jul

I don't know about you, but I find it fascinating to learn about different countries and their cultures and traditions. If you follow me on social media, you know that I LOVE to travel and eat new foods, now I'm going to have to put Norway on my list especially during julebord! But no matter where you are from, or what traditions you celebrate, the true reason for the season is that little baby born on Christmas Day. Merry Christmas friends, peace be with you!