Heart Choices: Norwegian American Christmas Traditions -->

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Norwegian American Christmas Traditions

Christmas traditions create special memories.  Since both sides of my family are from Norway, our celebrations always incorporated many of the foods, decorations and Christmas Eve celebrations.

Now that I've been married for 27 years to someone who is not Norwegian, we've adopted a few of his family's traditions into ours. But I love to remember many of the Christmases when I was growing up.
St. Lucia Day is celebrated on December 13 in Norway.  A girl is chosen to wear a wreath of candles on her head to represent St. Lucia.  My niece Kristin is wearing the wreath at our Sons of Norway Christmas celebration.  Her sister Katie is standing beside her.  (Both girls are grown now)  My friend L-Jay writes all about A Norwegian Christmas on her blog My Little Norway.

Norwegians love their Julenisse or little elves.  Here I have my Norwegian Christmas elf seated with a very American Bullwinkle.  You know us Norwegian Americans!

I love to bake Norwegian Christmas cake every year.  That is one tradition that I will keep.

I love the smell of cardamom.  This is a Norwegian spice that is often used in baking.  My Norwegian waffles wouldn't be the same without cardamom.  I make these every Christmas and many other times during the year.
Although Norwegian meatballs are not a typical meal for Christmas, I love to make it during this season.  I know my dad wishes he lived close by me because this is his favorite meal.  Norwegian meatballs and mashed potatoes and ...Dad has his happy smile on.
Thankfully, my mother gave me many of her beautiful Norwegian linens.  I always put this one on the table every Christmas.
There are always a few Norwegian decorations for the Christmas tree, of course.  Can you find one in this photo?
Photo Credit: Iris Nelson of Grace Alone
One family tradition that has continued is the reading of the story of Jesus' birth from Luke 2.  My grandfather always read it before we began eating dinner.  When he died, my father continued the tradition and still does.
This last photo is one of me that was taken several years ago.  We were living in our dream home and life was good.  However, even though my life has changed in so many ways my faith is strong.  God is good and I never forget the reason for the season; the birth of Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

Blessings and love,

Debbie Petras
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  1. A beautiful post. I enjoyed it very much. Merry Christmas. Doylene

  2. No wonder I love Debbie!

    This blog is just beautiful, and it says so much about you. Of course you know the Norwegian part is being celebrated just like you've pictured, right here in Texas. :)

    Love you my sis, and I wish you and Greg a beautiful Christmas!


  3. Very interesting. It's nice to know more about Norwegian traditions. The pictures are beautiful.
    Christmas blessings,

  4. So beautiful Debbie! I must admit, though, that the candles on the head is a little scary! :) Thank you for sharing this and we look forward to seeing you and Greg on Sunday.

    Love, Amy

  5. I enjoyed all the pretty pictures and learning about the traditions. I love that pretty picture of you. Have a blessed, Merry Christmas!

  6. I made krumkake last night! And I'll be making waffles too- with cardamom of course.

  7. Thank you for sharing some of your family's Christmas traditions. I hope that you and everyone in your family are blessed with a joy-filled Christmas! May you share a day filled with love and happiness as we celebrate our Savior's birth. I'm so glad to have gotten to know you, Debbie. You always bring joy to my heart as I read your posts and your comments. You are a dear friend to me.

    Blessings, Joan

  8. I always love hearing about the different traditions. Yours are very interesting, and the treats look quite yummy. Wishing you and your hubby a joyous and blessed Christmas! HUGS, Debbie

  9. Debbie, loved this and that cake looks delicious! I just know that if we were ever given the chance, we would enjoy each other's company very much. It's been a joy getting to know you and your sweet spirit through our blogs. Blessings my friend!

  10. Dear Debbie,
    I've been celebrating Christmas with my little family at my Mom's home for a week.
    How nice to see how you are treasuring your Norwegian heritage. I have just experienced this year that we've had to down size our decorations, or we wouldn't have been able to finish two homes. Life changes, customs are adopted to new circumstances; but the main triumph and joy for us this Christmas was, we were able to join the Christmas Eve service in our old church, my mother included. She was walking like a queen between Gunnar and brother Kel.

    I think I never fully realized that going to church is a privilege and something worth fighting for.

    The climbing nisse in your tree must come from Norway. I don't think they ever immigrated t America.


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