My family heritage is Norwegian. Both my mother and father's parents came from Norway. So many of their Norwegian Christmas traditions became part of our family's Christmas celebrations.
I remember Christmas Eve was a special evening. We went to my grandparent's house for dinner. The tree was decorated beautifully. My grandfather took pride in the miniature village he set up under that tree. He had a train that circled around and there were little houses, a church and even a skating rink with little people.
There were always lots of wrapped gifts underneath the tree. My Nana told us that we just missed Santa. He had dropped off the gifts but had to leave so he could visit other children's homes.
We were permitted to open our presents on Christmas Eve but only ...after dinner and the dishes were washed, dried and put away. As kids, we didn't mind helping since it meant we could get to the presents faster.
During our dinner, my grandfather always took out his worn leather Bible and read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and then he prayed. Then the rest of the family would join together and say this Norwegian prayer:
I Jesu navn går vi til bordså spise, drikke på ditt ord. Deg, Gud til ære, oss til gavn, Så får vi mat i Jesu navn. Amen.
The English translation is something like this: In Jesus' name to the table we go. To eat and drink according to His word. To God the honor, us the gain. So we have food in Jesus' name. Amen.
I remember all of the Norwegian cookes, cakes and other goodies we ate for dessert. I think my Nana must have baked for weeks. I loved the spritz cookies, the rice cram with chopped nuts, rosettes, the thin waffle type cookies that were rolled into a cone shape. Some of my Norwegian blogger friends may have to write down the names of the traditional sweets that I love so much.
I remember when I was little I used to love baby dolls. At the risk of really dating myself, here's a picture of me with my new doll and carriage one Christmas. Notice the tinsel on the tree. Most people don't decorate with tinsel now but at that time it was quite common.
My mom continued many of the family traditions through the years since my grandparents are no longer with us.
And now since my mom died, my sister Christine works hard to keep those traditions alive. She inherited my mother's love for cooking and uses the Norwegian American Christmas recipes to make it special and keep the memories alive.
I'm the only one who lives on the opposite side of the country so I have to work at integrating some of our family traditions with my husband's.
I'm so glad that our common theme is ...to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I wish you all a blessed and a Merry Christmas!