Yuletide and Christmas in Scandinavia calls for lots of food and celebrations. And no wonder we need a break and some hearty nourishment when we are in the middle of the coldest and darkest part of the year. Traditionally the return of the sun was celebrated with wild feasts in Norway long before Christianity came to this part of the world. For thousands of years we have developed our food preservation traditions and our folk tales have over time become mixed with other European folklore, like for example Santa Clause. All of this comes to mind when visiting my parent’s home for the Christmas day smorgasbord. The house is filled with yuletide spirit with decorations and food traditions which have been in our family for generations.

Let me start with one in the entrance to the house. On the stairs coming in you will meet the family Nisse, or Norwegian elf (click all pics to enlarge and enjoy!):

Yule Nisse from Norway #1

A Nisse is a mythical creature of Scandinavian folklore originating from Norse paganism. He were believed to take care of a farmer’s home and children and protect them from misfortune, in particular at night, when the house folk were asleep. Nisse is the common name in Norwegian, Danish and the Scanian dialect in southernmost Sweden.
Yule Nisse from Norway #2

Above is a group of mischievous bitty small Nisse which come from my great grandmother’s home. My mother now has these, and my sister has a few as well.

Yule Nisse from Norway #4

Sometimes we catch the Nisse climbing out of view, like this little fellow hanging from the old family clock from the 18hundreds! He was probably hiding a surprise for someone when they weren’t looking.

And then of course there is the food. My mother makes most of the dishes in the traditional way. The pork patties are made a couple weeks before Christmas and frozen until Christmas eve. The rib must be made from the good old recipe: salted and grilled in the oven, and the fat on top of the rib must be crisp – a very important part of the meal!! My sister prepared the salmon herself in a process which takes several days before it can be served. A lot of time and careful preparation goes into the food for this special brunch. Here is some of the dishes:

The sweets are also prepared at home. Marzipan is a necessity at Christmas time, and the marzipan balls are something we look forward to each year:
Christmas sweets from Norway #3

Another example is this special cookie-cake. The kransekake (literally ring cake ) is a traditional Norwegian and Danish dessert, usually eaten on special occasions such as weddings, baptisms, Yule, or New Year’s Eve. Kransekakes take the form of a series of concentric rings of cake, layered on top of each other in order to form a steep-sloped pyramid. It is made with almonds, sugar, and egg whites (marzipan). The ideal kransekake is hard to the touch, yet soft and chewy.
Christmas sweets from Norway #1
Kransekake – home made of course :-)

So now you have seen the Norwegian Santa Claus and your mouth is watering from all the delicious foods! I hope you have enjoyed learning about out Christmas, and I would love to hear from you about your own traditions at home. Have a continued good Yuletide, and a Happy New Year!

By the way: If you have been missing me a bit, I have a confession to make; My back is not doing so well lately so I have not been able to sit at the computer that much – the hardest is to type. However we are thinking of you, so please don’t feel neglected if I am not around as often to comment right now.


  1. i am so sorry to hear your back is giving you problems. i well know how miserable that can be. i hope the pain eases soon and you are good as new.

    i loved learning about the nisse and seeing the ones in your place.

    Thanks Michelle – I know you sometimes suffer from the same!
    Glad you learned something – the aim of my posts you know :)

  2. Oh dear Renny, do get well soon! I miss you and all your writing!

    Your Christmas Delights look so yummy. Especially the Kransekake! Oh I do love marzipan!

    Our Christmas dinner this year was herb crusted prime rib of beef, baked stuffed potatoes, mashed butternut squash, green beans, pear gelatin, croissant rolls, apple pie and vanilla ice cream.
    I used to bake a lot of cookies, but did not do it this year because I knew I would eat them!
    I did however get a real German Stollen and Nurnburger Lebkuchen. Favorites from my childhood, spend with my German Grandpa!

    Thanks for your well meant wishes!
    Glad you liked our Christmas treats and thanks so much for sharing yours – that’s what enriches the subject as I hoped for!

  3. I’ve had a bit of everything and a lot of cookies and of course the kransekake. It’s all delicious, both to look at and to taste. What a fun time of the year. What better way to celebrate.

    Feel better soon Renny. Having the back act up is miserable. It’s been about two years since my last really bad flare up. It’s awful.

    Big hug to you and Diane. Have a wonderful New Year celebration. :)

    So happy you enjoyed the treat and the party!
    Thanks for your well wishing. Can you share your secret with me?
    Hugs and New Years greetings back to You :)

  4. Thanks for sharing your traditions and your family with me. I am truly blessed with both!!

    Sharing it with you my dear takes the adventures into newer dimensions so I count my blessings too!!

  5. All the food looks delicious, Renny. My mouth is watering because I haven’t eaten my supper yet! ;-)

    I’ve never eaten marzipan; I must remedy that soon, I think.

    I’m sorry your back is giving you trouble. Hope it’s better soon, my friend.

    Best wishes to you, Diane and your family for a happy, healthy, prosperous and blessed 2009.

    Love and hugs,


  6. Thank you Renny for all the pictures and information about your wonderful special dishes. Now that you have made us crave a taste, where are the recipes? How do you make home made smoked salmon, and liver pate, and pork rib with the crispy fat? You torture us!

  7. Dearest Renny,
    It’s been wonderful knowing you and Diane. I enjoy reading your posts and about your life in Norway.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your back. I miss you and your posts. Get well soon.

    May you be more charming, richer, healthier and happiest this coming new year!!

    Happy year 2009!

    Greetings and cheers from sunny Singapore!

  8. I’m fascinated with your Norwegian Christmas. The Nisse is so charming. And the Ring Cake looks awesome! I would love to have that for a special occasion.

    God bless!

  9. hi renny! i would just like to greet you a happy new year. thank you for all the great information about norway. and for always visiting my blog. i hope you and diane will have a wonderful 2009 :)

  10. Look so lovely and yummy! Take care of your back. Wish you a happy and prosperous 2009!

    local guides, local wisdom

  11. What about the animals made of straw? The food looks delicious, especially the cakes! Yum! I think I’ll do a similar post showing English and Greek traditions. You have inspired me :-)

    Hope you’re better soon!

  12. Hhmmm that looks all very yummy ! Here too eating is very important, lol !

    BTW have you seen the Christmas market in Brussels (on my travel blog) I heard it’s becoming the biggest one in Europe !

  13. What wonderful delikatessen!! I am glad I am skiing so that I can enjoy the food and not feel guilty about it :)
    Sorry to hear about your back, get well soon.
    Best wishes for you and yours, happy New Year!!

  14. Happy New Year Renny.
    Can I have a piece of the kransekake please :-)

  15. My goodness Renny! That food looks incredible! How do you not weigh 400 pounds?!? ;)

    I love the collection of little nisse…what a bunch of adorable family heirlooms!

    I hope your back is better in the new year….take care my friend!

  16. Wow. The Norwegian elves are cute! And I would love to devour those small marzipan balls of yours!

  17. I think what I enjoy the most is that everything is hand made! I think you have made me so hungry with all of those protein dishes! Now I hate to think what would happen if you were Vegetarian! ;-) All so wonderful. Now this gets me thinking, are the trolls, as most English speaking people call them, of today originally taken from the Norwegian Nisse? It rather looks to be the case…

  18. By the way, I’ve seen all of your photos of Olga and friends on the video around 627… Yeah!!! How cool is that… You are famous. :-)

  19. Wow! You sure do celebrate! All we did was put out a couple towels :)

    Happy new year, Renny!

  20. I’m officially hungry now. That food looks delicious!

    Hope you feel better soon, Renny! Happy New Year to you all!

  21. Happy New Year Renny and Di! I hope your back is feeling better soon. I had the opportunity to have some kransekake while in Norway – YUM! Have some for me!

  22. HAPPY NEW YEAR to you as well, Renny. Looking forward to read and to see your interesting and great posts also in 2009!


    Sue’s Daily Photography

  23. I love you little Nisse, Renny, especially the one on the clock. Marzipan….yummmm, I love that stuff. Kransekake, now that looks really interesting. We also had smoked salmon on Christmas Eve and roast beef, along with lots of other goodies.

    A happy New Year to you and Diane and may 2009 be all you wish it to be.

  24. Dear Renny:

    According to chinese tradition, 2009 is OX(牛)year, OX means growing, Yeah, A growing year!

    So Happy 牛 Year to you!

    ╭┴──┤Happy ├╮
    │o o│牛year │●°
    ╰┬──╯    │ ∴°﹒
    ☆ | / /∴☆

  25. of course the food made me hungry again. hehe.

    you really are into elves. i’m afraid of them. how would i be if i visit norway? i hope the hotel room won’t have any elves inside

  26. Happy New Year, renny! May you have a great one this year, and more blessings to come! Those ring cakes look yum! :D

  27. Happy New Year!

    Thanks for stopping by Renny, BlogDumps has kept me so busy lately but I am getting back to writing again.

    Just so you know I have to go get something delicious to eat after looking at all this yummy food!

    I wish you and your family all the best in 2009

  28. A Nisse is so cute and the little ones too! I love the Scandinavian creatures! All this Christmas food and tradition is super. Your mother did a great great job! I hope Your back is ok now! Myself I had problems with mine those days! I was better yesterday for the NY Party and today again! I understand the medecin I need now! *giggles*

  29. Hey Renny,

    First of all, Happy New Year to you & Diane and you know what? I feel so welcomed and part of your family celebration already.

    The Nisse makes me feel warmth and the hearty meals is something I would love to try someday. The patties – can I have the recipe? Any secrets??? :)

    Still, wishing you best of health and take care of your back too…..glad I found you in Facebook too :D

    Betty (Aka Shionge)

  30. Looks delicious but i especially like the fact that you have nisse of your greatgrandmother’s. I like the dish that is in a tree shape too.

  31. Renny, your traditions are amazing! I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas. xxoo

  32. My mouth is definitely watering, Renny. But…what else is new! That almost always happens when I come to your blog!!! :)

  33. Mhmh, looks so good…I had to much food during christmas, but when I see this I am getting hungry again :)

    The best christmas food I had was once with a bulgarian family. Rumen was my Local Tour Guide in Bulgaria and invited me to have christmas dinner with his family!

  34. Hi my dear friend,
    this is the 3rd try to comment (broken line)

    Kransekake is a delicatesse.
    But how to make them perfectly without some knowledge of math?
    1 – Buy them in a Backery.
    2 – Buy forms
    3 – Study simple Math and do it your own

    Why Math regarding 3?
    To create the perfect shape of course.
    It’s about each rings diametre above the next ring.

    Hurray – I love Kransekake

  35. Pingback:Christmas traditions and myths at Yuletide in Norway - Christmas Tree Farm Blog

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