Fun Monday: Holiday Traditions

My family is Scandinavian, so it’s no surprise that our table at Christmas reflects that. And I do mean “reflect.” The table is so white, the glare can blind you. The only standout is red jello. Among the holiday fare is lutefisk (further explanation probably required but not necessarily wanted), lefse (my personal favorite), Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes and romegrot.

Lutefisk is whitefish, usually cod, that has been soaked in lye (reminiscent of the days Vikings would preserve fish they were carrying on  their ships). It is every child’s worse nightmare on Christmas Eve. I have no idea how to prepare it and probably never will. All I know is that there’s no mistaking the smell once my mom has opened the package. The rule in our house was you had to eat your lutefisk to open your presents … The secret is to shove the slimy stuff inside your Swedish meatball and plug your nose as it went down. In my family’s defense, however, there are some who like lutefisk, it’s just not for me!

Lefse is flatbread made from potato, milk, cream and flour, and cooked on a griddle. Each of the girls in my family “earned” a griddle as a wedding gift when we got married, so this I know how to make. You spread it with lots of butter and sugar for a rich treat, although it’s considered a side dish, not a desert!

Rommegrot is white cream mush pudding favored by the women in my family. Topped with brown sugar, it is a warm, creamy desert.

Me as Mary with baby Jesus on Christmas Eve in 1981Following our traditional meal by candlelight, we would clear the table, wash dishes, then have a program featuring the Christmas story from the Gospel, maybe a short play when we were younger, and a display of talents, including me playing Ode to Joy or Joy to the World on the clarinet! Finally, then, we would open gifts late into the night. We took turns opening presents, starting with the youngest (me!), so we had to learn patience and appreciation for everyone’s gifts. Santa was downplayed in my family, so the stockings Christmas morning would be filled with some candy, toothbrushes and other toiletries or accessories, and maybe a Barbie or small toy. It was still exciting, but kept the focus on giving to one another and being thankful to family for the gifts they gave. [That’s me in the  upper left in our family program as Mary, with baby Jesus, on Christmas Eve 1981.]

Because we opened gifts the night before, Christmas morning and day were reserved for sleeping, trying out new gifts, playing games and overall relaxing together as a family.

This week’s Fun Monday was hosted by Deborah, The Humble Housewife:

I want to hear about or see a holiday tradition, recipe or event. It can be any holiday you like or that is special to your family. With Thanksgiving and the Winter holidays coming up, those would be especially apt, but anything that is special for your family is fine. If you have pictures – it’s a bonus! Whether it’s your Mom’s famous stuffing recipe, going caroling on Christmas Eve, Diwali dances, or even the inevitability of Great Aunt Polly having one too many brandies and knocking over the Christmas tree – I want to hear about it!!!


8 thoughts on “Fun Monday: Holiday Traditions

  1. What lovely traditions. Your post is educational (which I love about blogging)…I didn’t recognize most of your food dishes, so thanks for the explanation. The lefse sounds wonderfully lethal!

    And the idea of relaxing on Christmas? Why didn’t I think of that!? :)

  2. I focused FM on Swedish traditions too – you described the foods very well. Last year, I spent the holiday with my in-laws in Stockholm and tried all kinds of new foods – some good like rice pudding or lingonberry sauce, and some not so good, like pickled herring.

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