Celebrating a Norwegian Christmas: Watch, Read, Listen, Do & Consume!

In Norway, the Christmas season is stretched over several weeks. It starts on the first Sunday of Advent, usually at the end of November. The Advent period lasts about four weeks until Christmas Eve. During Advent, a new candle is lit in a four-candle Advent wreath every Sunday. It’s a time of Christmas preparations – baking, decorating, shopping, and parties. On Christmas Eve, there are church services and families get together for the main Christmas meal. Presents are exchanged, and Julenissen may even visit and distribute presents. After Christmas Eve follows the period called “romjulen”, a quiet time until New Year’s Eve.

Would you like to experience a touch of Norwegian jul? Here are some ideas of what to watch, read, listen, do, and consume in these last few days of Advent and during romjulen that follows. God jul!

(Some of the links below are affiliate links. Any purchases you make through links on my blog may result in a small commission to me. I greatly appreciate it when you support my blog by clicking on these links to make purchases.)

Watch 👀

Home for Christmas (Netflix Original Series, 2 Seasons, 2020 & 2021)

A fun and atmospheric rom-com set in a Christmasy, winter wonderland in Norway! (It’s a bit raunchy at times, so beware if watching with young children.) Frustrated by all her friends being a part of couples and families and her family constantly commenting on her single status, Johanna rashly and falsely announces at a family dinner on the first Sunday of Advent that she has a boyfriend. Now she has to find one to introduce on Christmas Eve.

A Storm for Christmas (Netflix Limited Series Released Dec. 16, 2022)

I was hoping for a third season of Home for Christmas, but instead there’s a spin-off of sorts with this limited series. The main character and her father from Home for Christmas return but in totally different roles. The story takes place at the Oslo airport. Per Netflix’s description, “Destinies collide when extreme weather traps travelers and workers at an airport, forcing them to spend the final hours leading up to Christmas together.”

Three Wishes for Cinderella (Available through Amazon Prime Video)

Apparently, it’s a Christmas tradition for many Norwegians to watch the Norwegian dubbed version of the 1973 Czech movie Three Wishes for Cinderella. Last year, an updated Norwegian retelling was made by director Cecilie A. Mosli. The movie features spectacular shots of Norwegian winterscapes and architecture as well as glimpses of Norwegian culture. Consider putting it on your watch list!

Grevinnen og hovmesteren / Dinner for One (YouTube, Skit begins at 2:25)

This is a bizarre Norwegian tradition! Every year on Little Christmas Eve (Dec. 23) at 9:00 p.m., NRK, the Norwegian national TV station, shows this short black and white comedy skit (first released in 1963) about a butler and an elderly countess hosting a dinner for four imaginary guests. The link above includes an introduction in German. The skit begins at 2:25. “Same procedure as last year?” and “Same procedure as every year” are now common phrases in Norway.

Read 📚

There’s no better time to read books set during Christmas or winter than now. Below you’ll suggestions, and it wouldn’t be a Norwegian book list without some crime fiction as well.

For a list of Christmas books for families, visit my page Book List: Christmas in Scandinavia.


A Very Scandinavian Christmas: The Greatest Nordic Holiday Stories of All Time (2019)

From the publisher: This collection brings together the best Scandinavian holiday stories including classics by Hans Christian Andersen of Denmark; Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf, August Strindberg and Hjalmar Söderberg of Sweden; as well as the acclaimed contemporary Norwegian authors Karl Ove Knausgaard and National Book Award nominee Vigdis Hjorth. These Nordic tales―coming from the very region where so much of traditional Christmas imagery originates―convey a festive and contemplative spirit laden with lingonberries, elks, gnomes, Sami trolls, candles, gingerbread, and aquavit in abundance.

Berlin Poplars by Anne B. Ragde, translated from the Norwegian by James Anderson (First published in Norway in 2004)

Taken from the publisher: Aware of their 80-year-old mother’s failing health, three brothers reluctantly reunite over the winter holidays, where unexpected guests and the question of inheritance prompt the revealing of some bizarre, and devastating, truths.

Winter Stories by Ingvild H. Rishøi, translated from the Norwegian by Diane Oatley (First published in Norway in 2014)

I don’t often read short story collections, but at a virtual event with Norwegian authors, this particular author was mentioned as a must-read and I was drawn to the serene winter cover. It’s a collection of three long short stories, all of which take place during winter time in Norway and are about vulnerable people (a young single mother, an ex-convict, and a teenager) trying to do their best for the young children in their lives, but with difficulty. The author does a compelling job of exploring their struggles, and in every story there’s an unexpected stranger whose compassion makes a significant difference. A five-star read for me.


The Caveman (William Wisting Mystery) by Jørn Lier Horst, translated from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce (First published in Norway in 2013)

Jørn Lier Horst is my favorite Norwegian crime writer. The Caveman was the first of his that I read. Wisting is a likable and respectable police investigator who works in a smalltown, coastal community south of Oslo. His daughter Line, a journalist, is also a main character in this story. This installment takes place during the holiday season. Horst’s books usually tackle a greater social issue; this one reflects on forgotten and marginalized members of society. The Caveman won the the 2016 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year.

The Snowman (Harry Hole #7) by Jo Nesbø, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett (First published in Norway in 2007)

I had read the first Harry Hole book a few years ago and wasn’t a fan of him (a too damaged alcoholic with poor judgement), but I wanted to give the series another try since it’s such a popular one both at home and abroad. I’m glad I did; this book was a fun ride! I really enjoyed that it took place in Oslo (November with the first snow). Also, Harry Hole’s character was much more likable; he doesn’t drink in this installment and his skills as a detective really shine. In this story, Harry is on the hunt for a serial killer who’s been targeting married women with children and leaves a snowman behind as a calling card. It was very engaging and suspenseful with a satisfying resolution.

The Redeemer (Harry Hole #6) by Jo Nesbø, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett (First published in Norway in 2005)

This Harry Hole installment is even more of a Christmas crime read, though it does venture outside of Norway. From the publisher: Shots ring out at a Salvation Army Christmas concert in Oslo, leaving one of the singers dead in the street. The trail will lead Harry Hole, Oslo’s best investigator and worst civil servant, deep into the darkest corners of the city and, eventually, to Croatia. An assassin forged in the war-torn region has been brought to Oslo to settle an old debt. As the police circle in, the killer becomes increasingly desperate and the danger mounts for Harry and his colleagues.

Eat & Drink 😋

Norwegian Christmas Cookies – Syv slag kaker

Christmas cookies are an important part of a Norwegian Christmas. The baking starts early and long standing tradition calls for syv slag, or seven varieties. The number seven was believed to bring luck and is an important religious number often symbolizing completion or perfection. The seven types are chosen based family preferences. Norwegian Christmas cookies all generally have the same basic ingredients (butter, flour, sugar, eggs) and are either baked, fried, or made with a special tool. My favorite type is krumkaker, a cone-shaped cookie made with a special flat iron. Berlinerkranser is another good one. This year I plan to try making serinakaker. Read more about Norway’s syv slag kaker at The Great Norwegian Christmas Cookie Extravaganza and 21 Norwegian Christmas Cookies for a Scandinavian Holiday.


Gløgg is a very popular warm beverage (may be alcoholic or non-alcoholic) served throughout the Christmas season. You’ll find it in homes, at parties, and out at Christmas markets. It’s usually made with red wine along with various mulling spices and served with raisins and almonds. You can make it from scratch or buy readymade gløgg (and potentially add your own wine or spirits) or you can buy mulling spices to add to your own seasonal beverage.

Risengrynsgrøt (Rice Porridge)

A popular food during Christmastime is risengrynsgrøt or rice porridge. It is served with butter, cinnamon, and sugar on top, and during Christmastime, it is traditional to hide a peeled almond in it. The person who finds it receives a marzipan pig as a prize (though my family is not a fan of marzipan so we have Norwegian chocolate as prizes instead). You can make it from scratch or buy a premade mix you heat up with milk.

For more inspiration related to eating and drinking, visit the websites of favorite Scandinavian food writers.

Do 👐

Listen to Norwegian Christmas music.

For me it’s not Christmas without my playlist of Christmas music which of course includes various Norwegian artists. Among my favorite songs are Kim Rysstad’s 2017 album Snøen laver ned (The snow is falling down) with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. I also enjoy songs from trumpeter Ole Edvard Antonsen’s 2010 Christmas album Desemberstemninger (December Moods). And finally, it’s not Christmas without some Sissel Kyrkjebø, Norway’s Queen of Christmas Music. Sissel has a new Christmas album out this season, Winter Morning. It was recorded in Utah with the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square.

Make heart baskets.

Paper heart baskets are popular not only in Norway but also in Denmark and Sweden. During Christmas time, they are used as decorations on trees or in garlands and may even hold candies and small treats. They can be simple and extremely complex. All you need is paper, scissors, and a little tape for the handle. Single color wrapping paper and construction paper work fine for this. See instructions here and watch this video to help with the weaving.

Go on a virtual visit to Oslo during Christmas time!

In the video Christmas in Oslo: Festive Highlights from Oslo, Norway, it’s early December 2022 and winter has arrived in Oslo, though not the snow that is currently there now (at time of publication). The days may be short and dark, but the city is bright with festive decorations. Consider also taking a walk through the Oslo Christmas Market. For more glimpses of Christmas time in Oslo, watch Visit Norway’s photo series, The Christmas Town, Oslo, which covers everything from Christmas markets to ski jumping.

Watch St. Lucia celebrations with Rick Steves on a visit to Drøbak and Oslo.

In Rick Steves’ European Christmas, Rick visits Drøbak and Oslo to explore the Scandinavian Christmas tradition of Santa Lucia (December 13). Candle-bearing Santa Lucias bring light to the middle of winter and the promise of the return of summer. To capture the celebration, he traveled to Drøbak where kindergarteners bring light and saffron buns to a senior home and to Oslo where the Norwegian Girls’ Choir perform by candlelight in Gamle Aker Kirke, a tiny, heavy-stone, Viking Age church in Oslo (skip to 14:43 for segment on Norway). For some background information on the celebration, visit Life in Norway’s The Scandinavian Santa Lucia Celebrations Explained.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season! God jul og godt nytt år!

Virtual Nordic Events for December 2020: The Christmas Edition

Virtual Nordic events continue to flourish with something for everyone, and this month many events are Christmas themed. Be sure to visit last month’s listing of virtual Nordic events; many of those events are now available to view as saved recordings.

Local LA readers, the Norwegian Church’s Julemarked, or Christmas Market, will continue until Christmas. This is an opportunity to stock up on Christmas food essentials, treats, and fresh baked goods, as well as Christmas decorations and gifts. The shop is open during regular church hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Please confirm hours before heading to the store by emailing or calling.

A few new Nordic themed experiences that aren’t dated events have come on my radar recently:



  • For a daily dose of some Christmas spirit the Nordic way, check out Jacquie Lawson’s interactive, animated Nordic Advent Calendar. It’s full of games and amusements and daily surprises.
  • For a cozy Norwegian Christmas atmosphere with all the feels, watch the Norwegian Netflix original series, Home for Christmas. Season 1 dropped last December and Season 2 will be released December 18, 2020. It’s about a 30-year-old single woman trying to find a boyfriend in time to bring home for the Christmas family dinner. I watched the first season. I laughed and cried and loved the wintery Christmas setting in Norway. I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the second season.
  • On the other end of the seasonal spectrum is the movie The Sunlit Night (via Amazon Prime Video), a romance/drama set in Northern Norway, specifically Lofoten, during the summer. I read and enjoyed the book by Rebecca Dinerstein upon which it is based, and she wrote the screenplay for the movie. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the area and the midnight sun and I’m sure that the setting of the movie will be spectacular since it was filmed on location.
  • Fans of Norwegian World War II history can watch The 12th Man (via Netflix), a movie which follows a Norwegian saboteur’s journey to reach safety after narrowly escaping a Nazi attack. (New to Netflix October 2020)
  • A new podcast, The Nordics Unveiled by Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing embarks on a journey to the North “exploring the themes of Nordic mythology, folk music, Sami tradition, discovery of forgotten Nordic works in music, philosophy, architecture and nature.”

Finally, mark your calendars for the Scandinavian Film Festival L.A. (SFFLA) with Baltic Film Expo (@SFFLA) which will take place virtually January 7-10 and January 14-17 in cooperation with Scandinavia House in New York, NY. They will offer virtual screenings of films chosen by the Nordic and Baltic countries to compete for the Oscar nomination for the Best International Feature Film. Explore the schedule and plan your weekends. Your can buy a festival pass for access to all screenings or individual tickets.

12 Days of Christmas Gifts – Silent Auction & Instant Shop (December 1 – 12)

Norway House in Minneapolis, MN, is introducing something new to the Gingerbread Wonderland spirit! This holiday auction serves as a unique opportunity to support Norway House AND check items off your shopping list at the same time. The majority of items will be available in a traditional auction style, closing at 8:00 p.m. CT on December 12. Alongside their auction, they will also have an Instant Shop of items, open and convenient for immediate purchases of Norway House special merchandise. Check their event page for a link to preview auction items.

The Great Norwegian Christmas Cookie Extravaganza (December 1 – 14)

The Norwegian American, North America’s oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, hosts its first ever Great Norwegian Christmas Cookie Extravaganza! They’ve compiled a collection of recipes to help you make the required seven kinds of cookie for the holidays. Check in each day from December 1 to December 14 for a new recipe. You will see many familiar names in this Christmas Cookie Extravaganza: cookbook authors, bloggers, professional bakers, shop owners, and other leaders in the Norwegian-American community. Recipes are Norwegian or Norwegian-inspired, and each contributor shared a bit about their recipe’s origins or special tips.

NRK’s “Julekalender” Christmas 2020 Series: Stjernestøv (December 1 – 24)

Every day leading up to Christmas, Norway’s national TV station NRK will release a new episode of its Christmas 2020 series Stjernestøv (Star Dust). It is about 9-year-old Jo who experiences a tough start to Christmas when his parents divorce. He is visited by Elly, the star child from the North, and together they have an unusual and exciting December. It is in Norwegian and available for worldwide viewing.

The Norwegian American’s Christmas Calendar (December 1 – 24)

There is no Christmas in Norway without a julekalender—a special treat to open each day from December 1 until Christmas Eve. So this year at The Norwegian American, they are offering their own first annual julekalender, beginning with 14 recipes from the Great Norwegian Christmas Cookie Extravaganza and then followed by a special collection of holiday music to enjoy while you eat the Christmas cookies you just made!

Virtual Book Talk: Meet the Author with Lisbeth Zornig Andersen (Tuesday, December 1)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for the third talk in their new series Meet the Author. On December 1, Danish author Lisbeth Zornig Andersen will discuss her book Anger Is My Middle Name, an empowering memoir of resilience and redemption, and the rage that helped a girl escape the darkness of a harrowing childhood. The talk is in conversation with translator Dr. Mark Mussari and moderated by Dr. Elizabeth DeNoma.

Virtual Nordic Stories (for Kids): Santa’s Littlest Helper (Thursday, December 3)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for story time and craft with their special guest, librarian Sara Jensen. Listen to the Finnish story Santa’s Littlest Helper by Anu Stohner and Henrike Wilson. After the story, Sara will teach kids how to make a craft with items found at home. Update: View a recording here.

Norwegian Christmas Countdown with Vesterheim (Fridays, December 4, 11, 18)

Vesterheim’s Norwegian Christmas Celebration is going online. Experience Norwegian Christmas from home with the free GooseChase scavenger hunt app. Get ready to play and learn: make crafts, experience holiday traditions, cook Norwegian holiday specialties, decorate, enjoy being outdoors, and more. Collaborate on “missions” in person with your household or pod, or invite your friends and family to join together as a team online. Team members can play from anywhere. Earn points for a chance to win fantastic prizes! Join any or all of three weekly “games” beginning on Fridays in December.

Scandinavian Fest: Virtual Holiday Market (December 4 – 6)

Scandinavian Fest brings Nordic shops and businesses from around the globe together in one online location during the absence of in-person events. During the first weekend in December, join Virtual Holiday Market on Facebook to discover unique Nordic products, take advantage of discounts, and win giveaways. To participate, mark that you are Going or Interested in the event and then follow the Discussion tab on the event page for products, discounts and giveaways. For more information, visit Virtual Holiday Market.

Scandinavian Christmas Arts & Crafts (Saturday, December 5)

Join The Scandinavian School in San Francisco for their annual traditional Scandinavian Christmas arts and crafts event, this year virtual. They are planning some typical Scandinavian Christmas decorations like the clove covered orange, the classical candle lantern made out of sugar cubes, and a tomtenisse or two. Santa may even stop by for a visit. If you are unable to stop by to pick up materials, they will provide a list of what you need. For more details and ticket information, visit Scandinavian Christmas Arts & Crafts.

Panel Discussion: Nordic Colonialism in the Caribbean (Saturday, December 5)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for this virtual panel including Professor Lill-Ann Körber from Aarhus University, Denmark, and Temi Odumosu, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies at Malmö University, Sweden, as they examine Nordic colonialism in the Caribbean. The talk takes place in connection with the current exhibition, La Vaughn Belle: A History of Unruly Returns. Update: View a recording here.

Virtual Book Talk: Swedish Chef Magnus Nilsson in Conversation w/ Chef Edouardo Jordan (Sunday, December 6)

Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for a virtual book talk as they welcome back world-renowned Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson for a special talk launching his new book Fäviken: 4015 Days, Beginning to End (2020, Phaidon). Nilsson recently closed his extraordinary Fäviken restaurant at the height of its success to, among other things, buy an apple orchard. In the book, Nilsson details his fascinating first-hand account of the restaurant’s evolution—candid, insightful and thought-provoking. Learn more about what it was like to run a restaurant like Fäviken, as well as all the lessons he learned along the way––from virtual obscurity to the bright lights of the world stage. Celebrated Seattle-based chef Edouardo Jordan will also join this talk.

Gingerbread Wonderland Virtual Exhibit (December 6 – January 2)

The entire Gingerbread Wonderland exhibit at Norway House in Minneapolis, MN, will be available online for the world to see. Check here for more information on how to view the exhibit from home.

Jardar Johansen: North Norwegian Christmas Concerts (December 6 – January 4)

Jardar Johansen offers two digital Christmas concerts from Tromsø in Arctic Norway: a live recording of his 19th traditional North Norwegian Christmas Concert from the Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø in 2019 and a special recording of traditional Christmas songs from the charming Hillesøy Church on ‘yttersia’, the outer edge of the Tromsø region. English subtitles. Cost per concert is 350 NOK, approximately $40. One ticket allows you to enjoy one concert to be viewed as much as you want from one IP address for 30 days after purchase.

Online Nordic Book Club: The Brahmadells (Tuesday, December 8)

The Nordic Book Club at Scandinavia House in New York, NY, selects novels from some of the best Nordic literary voices. At this meeting, they’ll be discussing The Brahmadells by Jóanes Nielsen, translated to English by Kerri A. Pierce, who recently moderated the virtual panel Faroese Authors You Should Know. One of the first Faroese books to be translated into English, The Brahmadells is an epic novel chronicling the lives of a particular family—nicknamed “the Brahmadells”—against the larger history of the Faroe Islands, from the time of Danish rule, through its national awakening, to its independence. Visit the event page for more information and to register.

Nordic Holiday Craft Workshop: Woven Hearts (Wednesday, December 9)

On Wednesdays this month, experience the Nordic holidays with a series of virtual workshops from the Children’s Center at Scandinavia House in New York, NY. In this series, learn how Scandinavians prepare for Christmas through programs teaching how to make traditional holiday craft items. The first event on December 9 will feature woven hearts (flettet julehjerte). Download a booklet with instructions for all crafts presented in this workshop series. Update: The craft workshop is now available as a recorded video.

Classic Scandinavian Treats by Farm Table Foundation (Thursday, December 10)

Learn how to prepare Scandinavian holiday treats and hear some of the stories and history behind those delicacies. The evening will highlight four specialties: Swedish kanelbullar and Norwegian knots, which are two different techniques employed in making two delicious Scandinavian cinnamon buns; Lucia buns, a pretty, spectacular golden saffron bun traditionally served on Sweden’s darkest day of the year (December 13, St. Lucia Day); and the Danish kringle, the many-layered fruit-filled pastry that Denmark is famous for. Register here.

Norwegian Christmas Countdown with Vesterheim: Week 2 (Friday, December 11)

Vesterheim’s Norwegian Christmas Celebration is online. Experience Norwegian Christmas from home with the free GooseChase scavenger hunt app. A new game starts every Friday in December. Make crafts, experience holiday traditions, cook Norwegian holiday specialties, decorate, enjoy being outdoors, and more. Team members can play from anywhere. Earn points for a chance to win fantastic prizes! Join any or all of three weekly “games” beginning on Fridays in December. Watch Vesterheim’s website livestreams or Facebook page for the launch on Friday.

Scandinavian Christmas Baking Virtual Workshops (December 12 & 13)

Join Scandinavian School in San Francisco’s native Dane Leda Jessen for two traditional Scandinavian baking events: December 12 for Danish Christmas cookies called jødekager and finskbrød and December 13 for Swedish lussekatter. You can join for a single event or for both. On both dates, Leda will also be sharing her secret recipe for Glögg, a mulled drink enjoyed all over Scandinavia at Christmas time. For more details and ticket information, visit Scandinavian Christmas Baking Workshops.

Lucia Celebration with American Swedish Institute (Sunday, December 13)

This special concert is a wonderful annual tradition for both performers and audiences. Gather the family around the computer or tablet this year and celebrate light during the long winter with the youthful voices of the ASI Lucia Choir for a magical 20-minute performance over Zoom. $10 per connection. Register here.

Virtual St. Lucia Celebration with Scandinavia House (Sunday, December 13)

On Sunday, December 13, join Scandinavia House in New York, NY, for a virtual St. Lucia celebration with Ingrid Kullberg-Bendz. The event will take place as a Zoom webinar. Each year, Scandinavia House has shared in this tradition with processions from members of the Swedish Church Choir in New York, who join in traditional Lucia gowns with candles to sing Scandinavian and American holiday carols such as the “Sankta Lucia” at various events. This year, They’ll be taking the tradition virtual with a discussion and Q&A on the St. Lucia celebrations with Ingrid Kullberg-Bendz, a singer in the Swedish Church Choir and actress with the Scandinavian American Theater Company, who has led the performances at Scandinavia House each year. Register here. Update: Now available as a recorded viewing here.

Virtual Panel Discussion: The US and the Nordics, 2021 (Tuesday, December 15)

Organized by the National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, and the University of Washington’s Scandinavian Studies Department, this panel will examine current attitudes in the Nordic countries toward the United States. Thought leaders with backgrounds in journalism, government, culture, and business will also offer suggestions on how the US might strengthen its ties to Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, as well as the autonomous territories of the Faroe Islands and Greenland over the next four years. For more details and to register, visit National Nordic Museum’s event page. Update: View a recording here.

Contemporary Folk Art at Disney’s Norwegian Pavilion (Tuesday, December 15)

Join master woodworkers Phil Odden & Else Bigton and master rosemaler Patti Goke, as they discuss their work on Disney’s Norwegian Pavilion at Epcot. Phil, Else, Patti, and their teams worked on all of the woodwork and painting in the recent Frozen remodeling of the buildings and will share how these different crafts have informed and influenced patterns, design decisions, and overall planning. These master artisans will also discuss what it means to make and share craft in today’s world and in a location like Disney that serves millions of visitors each year.

Nordic Holiday Craft Workshop: Yarn Tomte (Wednesday, December 16)

This December, experience the Nordic holidays with a series of virtual workshops from the Children’s Center at Scandinavia House in New York, NY. In this series, learn how Scandinavians prepare for Christmas through programs teaching how to make traditional holiday craft items. In this second event, see how to make a yarn tomte! A Swedish tomte (known as a nisse in Denmark and Norway or tonttu in Finnish) is one of the most familiar creatures of Scandinavian folklore. The event will take place simultaneously as a premiere on both YouTube and Facebook. Download a booklet with instructions for all crafts presented in this workshop series. Update: Now available as a recorded viewing here.

Vesterheim Bokprat: Out Stealing Horses (Wednesday, December 16)

Dr. Maren Johnson, Luther College’s Associate Professor of Nordic Studies and Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies Director, facilitates a monthly bokprat discussing Scandinavian authors and Scandinavian life. Join her in December to discuss Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses, a novel beloved by readers the world over. Enrollment deadline is December 9. (Watch the movie afterwards, details below.)

Virtual Crafts & Cocktails (Thursday, December 17)

Recharge from your day with an evening of creativity and fun! Join National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, for their virtual Crafts & Cocktails event to get a mini-virtual tour from one their docents, learn a cocktail recipe, and make a craft using supplies you have around the house. This month make paper woven hearts, perfect for your Christmas tree or to adorn gifts.

Norwegian Christmas Countdown with Vesterheim: Week 3 (Friday, December 18)

This is the final game of Vesterheim’s online Norwegian Christmas Celebration. Experience Norwegian Christmas from home with the free GooseChase scavenger hunt app. A new game starts every Friday in December. Make crafts, experience holiday traditions, cook Norwegian holiday specialties, decorate, enjoy being outdoors, and more. Team members can play from anywhere. Earn points for a chance to win fantastic prizes! Join any or all of three weekly “games” beginning on Fridays in December. Watch Vesterheim’s website livestreams or Facebook page for the launch on Friday.

Vesterheim’s Family Heritage Cooking Series: Pepparkakor with the Bissell Family (Saturday, December 19)

Gather your family and friends and celebrate Scandinavian heritage, share family stories, and make memories in the kitchen. In this live, family-led cooking demonstration, you’ll learn about traditional Nordic holiday recipes, passed down from one generation to the next. Upon registration, you will receive a list of ingredients and equipment needed, a recipe, and the Zoom link for the event.

Virtual Nordic Holiday Cooking & Glögg with Morten Sohlberg & Ulrika Bengtsson (Saturday, December 19)

This holiday season, see how to celebrate Scandinavian-style with a special cooking and glögg-making workshop! Morten Sohlberg, the chef and owner of Smörgås Chef restaurant at Scandinavia House, and his family will present an online demo of making one of their favorite holiday dishes — Swedish meatballs, a popular Smörgås Chef classic — as well as an introduction to his upstate Blenheim Hill Farm, with some live music from his sons Edvard and Erik Sohlberg. Following the food demonstration, Swedish chef Ulrika Bengtsson will present an online demo on how to make glögg. The event will take place simultaneously as a premiere on both YouTube and Facebook. Update: Now available as a recording here.

Koselig Cocktails with Vesterheim (Saturday, December 19)

An important part of Nordic culture is the willingness to embrace the cold, dark winter. In this class, you will focus on hot beverages and the power they have to get us feeling koselig, or “cozy.” You’ll learn some new recipes while also developing the skills to create your own unique hot toddy. Take your warm cocktail outside and embrace the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv, or getting outdoors. Skål! Cost includes the price of the kit, some spices, and an ingredient list you will need to source materials for your class. Registration deadline is December 9. Update: This class is now sold out, but they are offering another one on February 11, 2021.

Vesterheim’s Family Heritage Cooking Series: Potato Lefse with the Kittelson Family (Sunday, December 20)

Gather your family and friends and celebrate Scandinavian heritage, share family stories, and make memories in the kitchen. In this live, family-led cooking demonstration, you’ll learn about traditional Nordic holiday recipes, passed down from one generation to the next. Upon registration, you will receive a list of ingredients and equipment needed, a recipe, and the Zoom link for the event.

Nordic Holiday Craft Workshop: Julgranskaramell (Wednesday, December 23)

In this final holiday craft workshop, learn how to make a julgranskaramell. Meaning “Christmas tree candy” in Swedish, a julgranskaramell is a special type of ornament that Scandinavians hang on their Christmas trees, consisting of small tubes filled with candies that are then brightly decorated with colorful tissue paper. The event will take place simultaneously as a premiere on both YouTube and Facebook. Download a booklet with instructions for all crafts presented in this workshop series. Update: Now available as a recording here.

Norwegian Digital Jazz Festival (December 25 – January 1)

Due to popular demand, Big Ears Festival is restreaming the entire Norwegian Digital Jazz Festival series over eight consecutive days during the holidays! The festival was a tremendous success garnering glowing reviews and acclaim when it ran November 6 – December 11. Starting Christmas Night, December 25, eight evening-length shows featuring 15 outstanding artists and bands will begin. You can purchase the festival bundle which gives you access to all 8 shows, or you can purchase individual show tickets. For schedule and ticket information, visit Big Ears Festival: Norwegian Digital Jazz Festival.

New Nordic Appetizers for a New Year (Sunday, December 27, 1:30-3:30 p.m. CT)

Join Vesterheim to ring in the New Year with some New Nordic Cuisine inspired appetizers! Celebrated chef, cookbook author, food historian, and “Nordic Food Geek”, Patrice Johnson will demonstrate creative takes on classic appetizers, plus meatball canapes, a dessert, and a cocktail. She will also discuss classic Nordic recipes for gravlax, potato patties, and add some of her own Northern flavors. Enrollment deadline is December 20, 2020. For more information and to register, click here.

An extra/ordinary Holiday in Extraordinary Times (ongoing until January 10)

The American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, MN, invites you to enjoy this virtual exhibition and video. Winding through ASI’s courtyard and the Mansion grounds, the Nordic story trail is an outdoor experience with story stations designed by community partners from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland telling five popular tales. From Sweden, come the timeless stories by author Astrid Lindgren about the playful Pippi Longstocking. In Denmark, a classic story by Hans Christian Andersen about a little fir tree encourages us to live in the moment. In Iceland, a gift of clothing protects children from the legend of the Yuletide cat. Across Finland, arctic foxes run over the frozen tundra, sparking fires that light up the sky. For Norway, storytelling is explored through song and nisse, the mythological protector of farms. View more information about each of the tales from these Nordic countries at the exhibition page.

Ongoing Special Events

Virtual Cinema: Out Stealing Horses (Norway)

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, continues to host a virtual cinema presentation of Out Stealing Horses, a film based on the award-winning novel by Norwegian author Per Petterson. Immediately following the film there is a pre-recorded discussion between Stellan Skarsgård and filmmaker Hans Petter Moland. Half of the proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.

Virtual Cinema: A White, White Day (Iceland)

Scandinavia House in New York, NY, is also hosting a virtual cinema presentation of the hit Icelandic film A White, White Day with Film Movement. A White, White Day is an emotionally complex exploration of the ravages of loss set across the hypnotic landscape of Iceland. Half of the proceeds will go to support American-Scandinavian Foundation and Scandinavia House. For more information and to purchase access, visit Scandinavia House’s event page. An end date has not yet been set for film screenings.

Which December events or experiences sound interesting to you? God jul!

‘Tis the Season for Scandinavian Christmas Fairs!

Norwegian Swedish Danish Christmas Los Angeles

Thanksgiving may still be a couple of weeks away, but the season for Scandinavian Christmas fairs has arrived in Los Angeles. Norway, Sweden, and Denmark all offer events with a cozy Christmas atmosphere and unique vendors, foods and drinks, and entertainment. The fairs may require a bit of driving, but they’ll be worth it. Presented in order of occurrence, here are the upcoming Scandinavian Christmas fairs in the greater Los Angeles area. Did I miss one? Please let me know in the comments.

Norwegian Christmas Fair – Julebasar

First on the calendar is the three-day Norwegian Christmas fair Julebasar hosted by the Norwegian Seaman’s Church in San Pedro on the weekend before Thanksgiving. I’ve been at this event several times both as a guest and as a volunteer and it never disappoints. Warm gløgg (traditionally, mulled red wine with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, raisins, and slivered almonds, but for this occasion, non-alcoholic) and ginger snaps welcome you as you arrive. Christmas decorations, music, candles, and the smell of freshly baked goods set the mood as you wander the booths filled with Scandinavian goods of all kinds. There are daily raffle drawings with wonderful prizes and even live entertainment if you‘re there at the right time. On Saturday there’s a children’s workshop to occupy the young ones while you can enjoy festivities on your own. And of course, the kitchen offers a wonderful assortment of traditional Norwegian foods. My favorite is rømmegrøt (sour cream porridge served with butter, sugar, and cinnamon), but there is so much more to choose from such as open-faced sandwiches, meat stew, pea soup, and Norwegian sausages (at least in previous years). And don’t forget to check out what’s for sale in The Bakery and in the church’s store! The Julebasar is free to attend and all are invited. You do not need to be Norwegian nor a member of the church.

SWEA Orange County Swedish Christmas Fair

On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, SWEA Orange County (Swedish Women’s Educational Association) hosts its annual Swedish Christmas Fair in Huntington Beach. Come for Swedish handicrafts, traditional Swedish foods and home-baked goods, a gløgg bar, dancing around the Christmas tree, and Lucia pageants (at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.). There will also be a fish pond and jultomte and much more! Entry fees are $5 for adults and $2 for children ages 5 to 15.

Scandinavian Christmas Fair – Julemarked

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Scandinavian enthusiasts can visit the Danish Church’s Scandinavian Christmas fair Julemarked in Yorba Linda. This annual event features Scandinavian vendors selling items imported from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland or that feature Scandinavian themes as well as traditional Danish foods and drinks such as smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches), æbleskiver (Danish pancake balls) with powdered sugar and raspberry jam, strong Danish coffee, and gløgg. Danish pastries and selected meat products are also available for purchase. I have not attended this event, but maybe this will be my first year.

SWEA Los Angeles Swedish Christmas Fair

Last on the calendar is the Swedish Christmas Fair organized by SWEA Los Angeles (Swedish Women’s Educational Association), which is another favorite yearly Scandinavian event of mine. It takes place generally the first Sunday in December in Torrance. The event is in its 38th year and welcomes about 3,000 visitors during the one-day event. Highlights of the fair include a multitude of vendors selling Scandinavian gifts, books, music, handmade crafts, traditional holiday foods, and baked goods as well as traditional entertainment with folk dancing and Lucia pageants. When you go, make sure to be there for one of the two Lucia pageants. They perform at 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. There is also a children’s corner where kids can create crafts to take home and visit with Santa. To top it all off, there is also a gløgg bar and Café SWEA serving traditional foods and baked goods.

Are you unable to attend a Scandinavian Christmas fair or would you like to bring the cozy Scandinavian Christmas feeling home? See my list of books for the family written by classic and contemporary authors from within and outside Scandinavia about Christmas and wintertime in Scandinavia at Book List: Christmas in Scandinavia.

Volunteering at Norwegian Church’s Christmas Bazaar 2016


This year I switched things up and volunteered at the Norwegian Church’s Christmas Bazaar instead of just attending as a guest. My day was all about food which suited me perfectly.

For me, food has always been a main reason for going to the event. I come to eat foods I only eat once a year, to buy freshly baked goods from the bakery, and to stock up on foods and drinks for Christmas time. On this occasion, I was assigned to the kitchen and café, and that was an assignment I appreciated and enjoyed greatly.

My day started out with getting wienerpølser (Norwegian sausages) in a pot for simmering, stirring lapskaus (meat stew), and slicing geitost (goat cheese) for julebrød (sweet bread with raisins). Once the event officially began, I headed out to the café and served cake and sandwiches to eager guests. Continue reading

It’s Norwegian Christmas Time!

2015 plakat julebasar

Click image to clearly view details

I’ve gotten used to the fact that the Norwegian Christmas Fair happens before I’ve even had a chance to plan my Thanksgiving. I look at it as a way to begin the whole holiday season. This year I was grateful to have an American friend whose other half is Norwegian join me for the excursion to San Pedro. We headed down Friday morning to be there when the fair opened.

I love the warm welcome we receive as we enter, and the offer of gløgg (mulled wine, in this case non-alcoholic) and pepperkaker (ginger snaps) certainly helps put you in the mood for what’s waiting inside. The inside of the church is festive with Christmas lights and decorations.

Just as you enter, you’ll see The Bakery. Don’t delay buying baked goods because they run out. I especially like the ones that come right out of the oven. I always buy to bring home. The after school treat that day for my boys was a fresh skolebolle each along with saft I’d bought from the church store.

Norwegian Christmas Fair BakeryIn the nave of the church you’ll find all the booths. They offer Scandinavian goods of all kinds, both imported from Scandinavia and homemade by members of the church. We arrived when the fair had just opened so the area around the booths was packed with eager shoppers. There was no way to take a picture that would actually show anything. I had to return and take pictures when all the first attendees were enjoying their lunches from the café. Continue reading

Christmas Bazaar 2014, just the beginning

Bazaar openThe season for Norwegian and Scandinavian events has begun. Yesterday I went to the annual Christmas Bazaar/Fair at the Norwegian Seamen’s Church in San Pedro. It’s always held jointly with the Swedish Church the weekend before Thanksgiving. I’ve gone every year the last few years. I’ve even volunteered a couple of times in the past. This year I went alone on Friday, the first day it was open. Last year I went on the weekend with the kids and my parents who were visiting. The year before that it was just me and the kids (about which you can read more here). It’s always a very pleasant, low-key event.

A warm cup of gløgg and tasty ginger snaps welcome you as you arrive. And there’s a nicely decorated Christmas tree to put you in the mood as well. There’s Christmas music in the background, and on the weekend, you may be lucky to hear some live music as well. Continue reading

Chillin’ at The Queen Mary

We didn’t quite get a chance to do the whole Christmas thing like we usually do this year. This season, there wasn’t the same opportunity nor urgency as other years to get in the Christmas spirit. My parents came for an almost-three-week visit at Thanksgiving time, we’re only in this house temporarily, and we weren’t going to be here for Christmas anyway. Also, our weekday afternoons and weekends were filled with soccer practices and games unlike we’ve ever experienced before so we really had no time for much of anything else. We didn’t even have a tree this year.

But we did try a new special holiday event this season! We went to CHILL at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, “SoCal’s only frozen holiday adventure,” in its second year. A friend and I had discussed the idea of going last year when it first appeared, but we didn’t get around to it. This year I saw discounted tickets offered at Living Social so I seized the opportunity for us to go while my parents were in town. They always enjoy experiencing something new while they’re here, and I was curious about it.

Chill ad

We visited CHILL the Tuesday before Thanksgiving (its fifth day after opening) with the hopes that the crowds wouldn’t be too overwhelming yet. In that respect, it was great. The crowds were very manageable, and we experienced minimal lines and easily found tables to eat at. However, it felt like we were there too early in the season. Some activities and areas weren’t open yet, there were no holiday carolers or holiday-themed entertainment as mentioned on their website, and they still had some fine-tuning to do with regards to ice tubing in particular.

Chill Ice Kingdom Entrance

The Ice Kingdom was CHILL’s main attraction. It was a separate area inside their great, big dome known as The Igloo. It is “an awe-inspiring exhibit featuring larger-than-life ice creations that towers over 2.5 stories tall and used more than two million pounds of ice.” CHILL’s website had warned us that the temperature inside the Ice Kingdom was kept at 9 degrees so we dressed accordingly and brought outerwear for sub-freezing temperatures, or at least we did the best we could living in Southern California and having visitors who came to enjoy warm Southern California weather. Before entering, we were offered long parkas which we gladly accepted when they assured us that it really was only 9º inside the Ice Kingdom, maybe even colder. Continue reading

Christmas in Los Angeles

I’ve lived in Los Angeles just over 18 years so I’m finally getting used to celebrating Christmas dressed in short sleeves and surrounded by palm trees. While living here, we’ve had the occasional cold and snowy Christmas in Idaho with Hubby’s family or in Connecticut with my sister and her family, but more often than not, we’ve been in warm and green Los Angeles.

Advent calendar

Our family advent calendar

Now that we’re a family, we’ve got a good little thing going with a family advent calendar that helps us prepare for the holiday and get in the Christmas spirit. Every day the boys open a box and pull out a slip of paper with an activity for the day. Slowly but surely, a picture reveals itself as they replace the box backwards. Some activities are totally related to Christmas, like decorating the Christmas tree, reading Christmas stories by the fireplace, visiting Santa, and watching a Christmas movie. Others are just activities to help us feel like it’s winter, like making paper snowflakes to hang in the windows, enjoying hot chocolate with all the fixings (marshmallows and candy canes), and making s’mores by the fireplace. And then there are the activities that are just special family times, such as having breakfast for dinner, having a picnic dinner in the family room (after the tree is decorated), and having a family game night with special treats (this year with chocolates and “seigmenn med nisseluer” (jelly men with Santa hats) thanks to my aunt!). Continue reading

Norwegian Church’s Christmas Bazaar (2012)

Thanksgiving hadn’t even passed yet, and we attended our first Christmas event. Every year the weekend before Thanksgiving, The Norwegian Church in San Pedro hosts their annual Christmas Bazaar. It’s an opportunity to not only support the church by buying handmade goods and Scandinavian products, but also to remind Sonny and Doobie of some of the unique qualities of their heritage. Christmas is a special time in Norway and the church certainly recreates some of that.

The kids were a bit reluctant to go. It is a 30-minute drive away on the freeway (assuming no traffic) and they were happily and lazily enjoying their first days of Thanksgiving vacation at home. The promise of Solo and waffles did help get them motivated to go, however. I also told them they could help pick out something special to bring back home.

The bazaar is nothing super big and fancy, but it is very cozy and joyful. We were warmly welcomed with hot gløgg and gingerbread cookies in the entryway which was decorated with a Christmas tree. Just beyond that, we could see the Christmas lights on the booths and hear Christmas music playing. Right away the Christmas spirit came over us. Continue reading