Yuletide Nisse and old world food in Norway at Christmas

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.

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RennyBA

I’m a creative, enthusiastic, self motivated man with extensive experience in networking.

36 thoughts on “Yuletide Nisse and old world food in Norway at Christmas”

  1. Just found your site. I will enjoy it into the future I suspect. I really appreciate your articles.
    I found you looking for traditional elements that my son expressed interest in.
    We have Nisse, A family troll, and share some of the Scandinavian traditions, though they have been Americanized.
    We no longer make kransekake at Chistmas, but I still make lefse. We have left Lutefisk behind, but have replaced it with Norwegian Cod. We love it, but use it for holidays only, because it is being overfished. I will enjoy looking at your recipes. For Chistmas eve we also have a large smorgasbord that is out for hours. Herrings, pickles, cheeses, many meats and sweets for sure. Love to add authentic details to the traditions and pass them on. God bless, and hope your back has given you relief.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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

    Luv
    Betty (Aka Shionge)

  5. 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*

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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 │●°
    ╰┬──╯    │ ∴°﹒
    ☆ | / /∴☆

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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…

  12. 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!
    xoxo
    ~Olga/Shawn

  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. 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 !

  15. 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!

  16. 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 :)

  17. 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!

  18. 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!

  19. 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,

    Diane

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

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

  21. 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. :)

    RennyBA
    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 :)

  22. 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!

    RennyBA
    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!

  23. 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.

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

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