I’ve been challenged by ICE International Currency Exchange to create a Christmas bundle containing food, decorations and traditions from a specific country chosen for me by ICE. In my case the country was Norway, so for the last week or two I’ve been researching Norwegian festive traditions, scouring the shops for beautiful Nordic decorations and baking tasty treats that wouldn’t look out of place in a Norwegian family home at Christmas.
Many Christmas traditions in Norway are the same or similar to those of the UK, though there are a few which are a little more obscure. Christmas in Norway is based mainly on Christian traditions, Jewish Hanukkah and even some pagan ideas.
Today, 23rd December is Little Christmas Eve in Norway. The day decorations are hung in homes, the Christmas tree is lit and families often get together and make a Gingerbread house. I love how beautiful gingerbread houses look, the intricate designs and stunning decorations are so eye catching.
We decided to create our own gingerbread house and gingerbread men or a pepperkake, as it’s known in Norway. I’d love to take credit for actually making the entire gingerbread house but it came from a TK Max bought kit which we decorated. I don’t think my talent lies in gingerbread house design!
I decided to chance my luck on some home made gingerbread, made from scratch. Gulp! After purchasing some gingerbread cutters from Sainsburys I wanted to put them to use but I had intended on buying the pre rolled stuff but I couldn’t find any locally this year.
I used a simple recipe for gingerbread which I managed to get all of the ingredients for from our local COOP store.. If I’m honest I hadn’t realised how simple gingerbread actually is to make!
12oz of plain flour
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
3 teaspoon of ground ginger
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
4 oz of butter
6oz of brown sugar
5 tablespoons of golden syrup
Mix together the flour, bicarb, ginger and cinnamon before adding the softened butter. Mix together.
Use a food mixer or whisk to mix the egg and golden syrup together and then add to your other mixture. Kneed everything together so your mixture is quite solid and smooth then wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Preheat your oven to about 180c and find a baking tray.
Take you dough from the fridge and kneed it to slightly soften it before rolling it our ready to cut shapes from.
Roll out on to a floured board to prevent sticking.
Transfer to your baking tray and cook for 10-15 minutes, keep an eye and nose out though, mine cooked very quickly and some of my gingerbread men ended up with slightly singed feet.
Norwegian families also enjoy a dessert dish called risengrynsgrøt over the festive period, a rice pudding type dish made with butter, cinnamon and sugar. In the olden days Norwegians used to put a bowl of the dessert outside for the barn gnome, Nisse to reward him for looking after livestock and farm buildings. Nowadays, the Norwegians tend to eat it themselves and include a single almond into the pot of dessert. If your portion has the almond in it you might be lucky enough to win a Marzipan pig!
Marzipan is extremely popular during the festive period in Norway, with consumers eating over 40 million marzipan shapes. Considering there are less than 5 million people living in Norway, that’s a lot of marzipan!
I bought pre rolled Marzipan from Sainsburys to make the little pig.
What do you think of my homemade Marzipan pig? He’s a little odd looking but he’s all marzipan!
Norwegians display Christmas trees as we do. You may already know this but since 1947 the people of Oslo have donated a Christmas Tree to the people of Britain. It’s displayed over Christmas in Trafaglar Square in London.
Most Norwegian homes use real Christmas trees rather than artificial. I love real trees, the scent is beautiful and they look so authentic but I didn’t dare buy a real one this year for fear of the little man eating the fallen needles! Our usual colour scheme for the tree is gold and green, quite simple with minimal lights. This year I’ve made some additions to our tree and home decorations, including pretty Nordic designs in an array of colours. The new tree decorations are from TK Max and Sainsburys. I absolute adore home wear from TK Max, their Christmas decorations are beautiful.
We put the tree and decorations up at the end of the first week in December. We spent an evening together rummaging through boxes and untangling Christmas lights. The little man enjoyed looking at all the pretty, sparkly colours and twinkling fairy lights. Putting up the tree and decorations will hopefully become a family tradition where we can sit together and decide what goes where each year.
I bought this beautiful metal reindeer decoration from a local Christmas market. I think it has a minimalist Nordic look about it and I love hanging tiny decorations from it’s antlers.
I felt they all had a fresh Nordic look about them. I visited my local florists to buy the super huge pine cone which I then dipped into gold enamel paint. I love it!
In Norway Christmas is celebrated on the same date as our Christmas Eve, 24th December. Norwegians eat Christmas dinner as we do, but their most popular Christmas dishes are ribbe, a pork rib dish, lute fisk, a type of cod and pinnekjøtt which is a dry cured rib of lamb.
This post is in collaboration with ICE International Currency Exchange