We celebrated my oldest niece’s confirmation last weekend. She is fifteen and as a Evangelical Lutheran tradition we then celebrate her becoming an adult. Her life doesn’t change much at fifteen, but traditionally this is the age from which you were considered an adult. 18 is the age where you’re legally considered and adult in Norway.
The tradition involves weekly church meeting throughout the school year, although this varies from place to place. There are also non-religious confirmations based on various secular organisations, where obviously the church is not involved. The confirmations has long traditions in Norway, and was introduced during the 16th century, during the 18th century if was made obligatory. The confirmations coincided then with the last year of school and the confirmation became a religious exam, as well as a requirement for getting an apprenticeship. Today it is a matter of getting to know your religion, becoming more reflected, growing up and also the family party.
My niece was two when I met my husband and when I met her for the first time. It has been amazing watching her grow into the young lady she has become today, and it has happened so quickly. She went from a young girl to a young lady in the blink of an eye. She is lucky to have an amazing mother who can take credit for the level of maturity in my niece. She has done a good job in emphasising my niece’s good qualities throughout her upbringing and focused on the positive in life. But my niece is much more than just the result of her upbringing, she is also very clever, she has a brilliant sense of humour, she is well-reflected and mature for her age. She is insanely beautiful and determined. I’m very proud of her and consider myself very lucky to be able to follow her further in life.
I wish to keep my family anonymous and thus leave you with pictures of some of the gorgeous bunads present on that special occasion.
My husband in his brand new Rogaland bunad
A beautiful representative of the nordlandsbunad
The Åmli bunad – the one worn here is actually 60 years old, inherited from her grandmother
The Åmli bunad for men
A blue version of the Rogalandsbunad
I bake pepperkaker every year. It’s the Norwegian version of gingerbread and how different it is to it’s cousins around the world I have no idea. It’s an activity everyone should go through before christmas, every year and children young an old seem to enjoy it (children do at least for a short while). Here’s the recipe that will leave you with pepperkaker well into the new year:
150 grams of butter
5 dl sugar
Dice the butter and leave it on the counter until it’s tempered and soft. Whisk it with the sugar until it’s white and fluffy. Then add the remaining ingredients:
2 dl of syrup
2 dl of water
1 T ground cinnamon
1 T ground ginger
1 T ground cloves
1 T baking powder
1,5 litres (850g) of wheat flour
Place it somewhere cold, preferably for a day or two, but a minimum of an hour. This is to improve the dough before working with it, and for the tastes to set properly.
This is my mom’s recipe and it has been used for ages! I think it’s huge, and found out just how huge it is the first christmas I lived away from home. Not having much experience with baking I asked my mom how big the recipe was, she claimed it was just the right size. And indeed it was! if you’re a family of 15!! I was making cookies into the wee hours of the night and filled up so many tins it was not even funny! This year I made about a third of it, which was just about perfect for our family. Recipe then looks like this:
50 grams of butter
1,7 dl of sugar
0,7 dl of syrup0,7 dl of water
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1 t ground cloves
1 t baking soda
5 dl (just about a pint) of flour
We filled about four trays of cookies. Son was done after one and a half and we were left with a decent amount to make on our own.
The cookies should be very thin, but not quite see-through. A few millimetres is perfect. Bake for 5-7 minutes at 200 degrees (celcius) and make sure to eat a few while they’re still warm and soft.
Enjoy the delicious ‘pepperkaker’ and the christmassy smell that fills the house.
Thursday was the 12th day of December and following was the night before the 13th day. Logically, yes, indeed, but I only say this because these days are of severe importance to us. You can read more about our traditions here, but another important tradition are the lussecats. Lussecats (lussekatter) are bright yellow baked sweet rolls of fascinating shapes that we only bake once a year.
I can not go a year without, and even last year, when I returned home from hospital with a brand new baby this exact date, I still had to bake. This year it was done in a hurry before picking up our Son from kindergarten and heading out on more adventures, but the ‘cats’ were still good and added to this wonderfully important day in December.
Join in on the fun, I’ll allow you to try them out even though it’s a bit late, but next year it’s the night before the 13th day of December (which means sometimes during the 12th or 13th)
Recipe is as follows:
- 2,5 dl of milk (about a cup)
- 25 grams of fresh yeast
- 75 grams of butter
- 0,5 grams of saffron or 1 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of cardamom
- 1 egg
- about 6 dl of flour (about 2 cups)
Using saffron: Melt the butter and add the milk. Heat the milk a tad bit to have the colour set properly, but then have a cup of tea while you wait for the mix to cool down. When the mix is cold-ish you add the fresh yeast. If the milk is still warm you’ll kill the poor yeast – and the yeast has done nothing to deserve that! Drink tea, don’t kill!
Using turmeric: Melt the butter and add the milk, mix the two together and take off the heat. Make sure the mix is more cold than lukewarm. Add the turmeric to the dry ingredients.
To continue: Add the fresh yeast to the milk. Then add the sugar (this will spike the yeast) and the rest of the ingredients. Knead for as long as you can bother (or have your Kenwood do it for a few minutes). Leave to rise – when it has doubled in size knead it and create lussecats. Here are some of the shapes. Leave them to rise while the oven heats up to about 210 degress (celcius), then paint with a mixed egg (or only egg whites) and decorate with raisins.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and delicious. Serve with a glass of milk and eat while clad in white and with candles burning in the background.
Yesterday was the 12th day of Desember. The night before the 13th day of december, which is the day of Saint Lucia. We celebrate it with a mix of traditions and the day is one of my absolute favourite days of December.
The days between christmas eve, our yule eve, and new year’s night, are called romjul. Among merry companions often translated to room wheel, but it has nothing to do with either rooms or wheels. It derives from the Norse word rómheilagr which translates to ‘what (or when) is not holy by law’ romjul then means the days that are not yule by law. We still celebrate yule with family and friends, but not many of the days are considered holy by law. During this period we ‘go julebukk’ (a bukk is the male sheep, goat, deer or similar animal) which means you dress up to the point where you’re unrecognisable, and visit your neighbours and help them finish off the sweets they’ve made for yule.
My little Son in Mommy’s old shoes
The 13th day of December is the day of Saint Lucia. We normally don’t celebrate saints in Norway (being a predominantly protestant nation) but this day is marked both in kindergartens and schools. Children dress in white, bear lights and parade through schools, kindergartens and often homes for the elders, singing christmas carols and the ‘lucia song’.
In the small town where I’m from people mixed all of this up around the same time as many Swedes migrated to the small town to work. This has resulted in the lovely tradition of children dressing up and walking from door to door singing christmas carols. In return they are given some sweets, a smile and praise for their singing. Growing up this was one of the most important days of the year.
Yesterday I took my son to visit my parents and I took him to ‘go julebukk’. It was raining, it was cold and it was dark. In the car my son swore he would not leave his grandparents’ house. He can be rather shy and when he heard he had to visit the houses of strangers he swore he would not open his moth, let alone sing! He still dressed up. He sang on the stairs of my parents’ house. He hesitantly walked over to the neighbours. He sang as they opened the door. They smiled, praised him and gave him a handful of sweets. His face lit up like only a child’s face can. I had to stop him after six houses. A small four-year-old singing alone outside strangers’ houses generated much more candy than what’s good for him.
We’ll return next year.
This is another traditional dish, often used around the yule season. (Yes, that is christmas, but my celebration is not inspired much by religion, so I’ll stick to Yule – also because it in Norwegian is called jul, pronounced yule, and x-mas sounds so uncosy) For many it’s also often made and eaten during the weekend. We usually make it around yule as leftovers can be used for several (what we would consider) yule related desserts. I’ll get back to that some other time.
You’ll need 1 dl of round, polished rice pr person and 4,5 dl of milk pr dl of rice. I don’t know how easy it is to get hold of this rice anywhere else. Here it is sold as “porridge rice”, and I don’t know how well other types of rice will do.
Bring the milk to boil (my milk never boils though, don’t despair. If milk boils you’ll have it all over your kitchen in no time and it easily burns as well) or heat it up well 😉 Add just a wee pinch of salt and 1 dl of rice. Now, this is where you need some patience. Keep at medium heat and stir often. If you heat it up too much it will both burn and boil over. Boiling milk should always be watched! Keep watching the pot until the milk thickens enough for the substance you have in front of you could be called porridge. How you prefer the porridge is something you have to figure out yourself.
When done sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and put a lump of salted butter in the middle. Toast those around you and say God Jul! /gu: jy:l/ Now, enjoy!