We have Scandinavian roots in our family, and this time of year, I especially enjoy reflecting about our ancestors years ago in Sweden. I often will decorate using straw ornaments, dala horses, hearts, candles, and seasonal greenery, as a reminder of our heritage. Each of us come from different backgrounds, what traditions do you celebrate with your family at Christmas?
The Dala Horse
The Dala Horse (Swedish: Dalahast) is a traditional carved and painted wooden statue of a horse originating from the Swedish province of Dalarna. Years ago, the horse was mostly used as a toy for children. Today, it is more known as a symbol of the country of Sweden.
The biggest and longest holiday of the year is Christmas in Sweden. It begins with the lighting of the candle the first Sunday of Advent (first Sunday in December) and continues for each Sunday leading up to Christmas. By tradition, Swedes are known to attend church in the very early hours of Christmas morning. The Swedish Christmas tree is not brought into the home until only a day or two before Christmas. It is decorated with wrapped candies, glass bulbs, straw trinkets, and lights or candles.
On December 13th, St. Lucia Day, A Lucia (Queen of Light) is chosen from each home. She is dressed in a white gown with a crown of candles in her hair (think of Kirsten the American Doll here). She brings coffee, rolls, ginger biscuits and occasionally “glogg” (a mulled wine). As legend believes, this is the longest night of the year, and a time when man needs extra nourishment. The girls wear glitter in their hair and the boys wear tall paper cone hats decorated with stars. While delivering the delicious food, traditional Lucia carols are sung. .
Other Swedish terminology at Christmas:
Smorgasbord: Dishes such as ham, jellied pigs feet, and lutfisk enjoyed on Christmas Eve
Lutfisk: fish soaked in lye to make it soft and palatable
This almond cake pan and dala horse dish were given to me last year as a gift. This must explain my need for baking (and consuming foods) with almond flavoring and butter. 🙂
- 1¼ c. sugar
- 1 egg
- 1½ t. almond extract
- ⅔ c. milk
- 1¼ c. flour
- ½ t. baking powder
- 1 stick melted butter
- Beat well sugar, egg, almond, and milk. Then add flour and baking powder. Finally, add the butter. Spray loaf pan thoroughly with baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-60 minutes, check for doneness. Edges must be golden brown. Cool 20 minutes in pan before removing. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- Variations: Before pouring batter into pan, sprinkle sliced or slivered almonds on the bottom. For Chocolate Almond Cake, add 2 oz. melted chocolate or ⅓ c. cocoa to the end of the batter.