Dec 8, 2009

A Norwegian Family Christmas

by Emily DeFosse

I love the lights and the snow and the chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Well, I’ve never actually roasted chestnuts, nor do I know anyone who has. But my family has our own traditions that stem from my grandparents’ upbringing in Norway.

Like many traditions, ours revolve around food. After my family gathers around the dining room table to consume large portions of Mormor’s skinkestek, which is roast pork, topped with gallons of gravy, we take some time to read the Christmas story aloud by candlelight.

After the reading of the Christmas story, we dish out riskrem, a Norwegian rice pudding. Each person is allowed one scoop as we all anxiously begin digging into the riskrem in search of the one mandel, or almond that has been hidden for one lucky person to find. The victor wins a prize, usually a board game of some sort.
After the riskrem my family gathers in my grandparents’ warm basement to open presents and eat immense amounts of krumkaker, fattigman, jhorketakk and sandkaker — various types of Norwegian Christmas cookies.

After hours of fellowship at my grandparents’, we all return to our own homes so the children can sleep, awaiting a visit from Julenissen, or Santa Claus, on Christmas morning.

I cannot wait to return for another Christmas with my family, and I hope you and your family can take some time to enjoy whatever traditions you may have for the Christmas season.
God Jul godt nytt år (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year).

Contact Emily DeFosse at

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