SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: Copenhagen // Flying House by Traveling Mama


Dear readers, this Christmas season’s final guest post is by none other than the Copenhagen-based Flying House blog. You might know her as Traveling Mama AKA Tina Fussell — you do follow her Instagram account @tinafussell, right? Tina’s graciously agreed to share a little about her experiences in the magical place that is Scandinavia at Christmastime.

Scandinavia has to be one of the most charming places in the world to celebrate Christmas.  For weeks the light of day grows dimmer and dimmer, like a great bear snuggling down for a long winter’s nap.  By three o’clock, darkness descends and candlelight flickers in the window of every home and shop.  It is everything you might imagine an authentic Christmas to be, as if every everyone and everything has been perfectly scripted into a fairy tale story.
traveling-mama-christmas-copenhagen-strøget-14-600x400
Click for more about Christmas Market shopping and the store windows, from Tina’s blog.

The days are filled with festive foods such as pebernødder cookies and æbleskiver, eaten while creating traditional handmade Christmas decorations, a craft that is passed down from one generation from the next, while the evenings are festive with parties and glogg, a warm mulled wine.  The shops are packed with everyone bustling about while Christmas music hangs in the air.
tivoli
Click for more about gløgg and the Christmas market at Tivoli, from Tina’s blog.

The Christmas markets sell a variety of wares, from seasonal teas to wool hats and gloves and the air is filled with the smell of earthy pine and sweet, sugary nuts being roasted and peddled by street vendors.

If you are looking for a quintessential Christmas experience, then Scandinavia is the place for you.

traveling-mama-pebernødder-christmas-cookies-600x898
Click for more about the pebernødder cookie, from Tina’s blog. 

Tina, thank you so much! And readers, for more of what Denmark has to offer, be sure to follow along with Tina over at the beautiful Flying House blog, as she takes you inside some of the best little spots in Copenhagen — and shares peeks of her cozy home! It’s one of my favorite reads, for sure.

Merry Christmas!

About these ads

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: Sankta Lucia Day


Today, December 13, is St. Lucia Day! And today’s guest blogger, Linnea of Linnea in the Capitol, is here to tell you all about this wonderful Swedish holiday. -Gina

Growing up in a Scandihoovian (American-Scandinavian) household meant that Sankta Lucia day was an incredibly important part of our holiday season. Like my other favorite Swedish holiday, Midsommar, it involves wearing a fantastic crown and lots of singing!

How to Celebrate Santa Lucia Day at Home - Swedish Holidays

The Legend of St. Lucia

The legend – or legends, for I believe there are several versions – of Saint Lucia actually come from Sicily, Italy. A young maiden there, Lucia, chose to give away her dowry to the poor. This made her husband-to-be quite angry, and she was sentenced to be burned to death. The flames could not harm her, however, and eventually she was killed with a sword.

This tale was taken up to Scandinavia, where it melded nicely with local tradition and became a beautiful holiday and celebration. December 13th was the winter solstice according the old Julian calendar, and if you have ever been to Sweden in the winter you know how dark the days can be! Lucia brings light and hope (and often baked goods!) to the people on that dark, dark day.

Traditionally the eldest daughter in the family rises early and dresses in a long white dress with a red sash and with light on her head. She takes a tray of breakfast and goes throughout the home, waking the family with beautiful singing and bringing them breakfast in bed (at least that’s how we did it!)

Lucia programs are also put on in schools and throughout the community. One lucky girl is even chosen to be the National Lucia in Sweden each year. In some circumstances girls submit applications to be Lucia, and may be selected by a voting process. It is a wonderful honor to be selected as Lucia. Other girls make up the tärnor, a train which follows Lucia. The girls in the tärnor also wear long white dresses with sashes, and carry a candle in their hand. Often bringing up the back of the train are the stjärngossar (star boys), boys also wearing long white robes, wearing a tall pointed hat with stars on it and carrying a staff with a star on the end.

It is easy to celebrate Lucia at home! Here are the things you’d need:

Lucia and Light // St. Lucia Crown DIYs

While Lucia is often the eldest daughter, there is no reason that it has to be! In my opinion anyone can be Lucia, regardless of age or gender! (I often heard my brothers lament that they would never get to be Lucia. Being a star boy is fun, but in my opinion boys can be Lucia too!)

While traditionally Lucia wears real candles on her head, many people forgo this today in favor of battery powered candles. There are battery powered Lucia crowns for sale, but there are many other ways to represent Lucia’s crown as well that you can put together at home. One common solution is a wreath of silver tinsel around the head – it catches the light and twinkles in a wonderful way.

I found several great DIY Lucia crowns online, ranging from very easy (construction paper) to a little more involved (sewing.)

Lucia wears a long white dress, generally loose fitting – a nightgown works well, but any white dress will do. Tie a red ribbon around the waist and put some white socks on the feet and the outfit is complete!

Baked Treats and Hot Drinks // Swedish Lussekatter Recipe

Lucia brings a tray of yummy things to eat. You can put whatever you’d like on your tray, but if you’d like to celebrate like a real Swede consider making lussekatter (St Lucia buns) – a saffron yeast bun. Saffron is generally expensive, but gives such a distinct and unique color and flavor. I found my saffron this year at Trader Joe’s.

lussekatter via Vera H
Image Credit :: Vera H

Here is our family recipe, a combination of instructions from Första Kokboken, my great-uncle Stig, and my mother.

100-150 g. (10.6 Tablsp.) margarine or butter
4 dl (1 2/3 cup) milk
½ cup warm water (110⁰ F.)
50 g. yeast (2 Tblsp dry yeast – Kirsti; 3 packages dry yeast – Stig)
½ tsp. salt
1 – 1 ½ dl (1/2 cup) sugar
15 dl (6 cup) flour
1 gram (2 packages) saffron, also raisins
1 beaten egg to “pensla med” (brush onto the rolls before baking)

Melt the margarine in a sauce pan. Pour in the milk and warm until it is “finger warm”. Place yeast in mixing bowl and add ½ cup warm water and let dissolve. Add the warm milk mixture and flour, sugar, and seasonings. Put  the saffron in a small bowl with a sugar cube and crush them together. Then add to the dough mixture. If you have a mixer with a dough hook, use this to mix the ingredients together until the dough holds together and leaves the sides of the bowl. (It will be stickier than regular bread dough.) Place a towel over the bowl (or plastic wrap, easier to clean up) and let rise for 40 minutes or until it is light and porous. (This may take longer depending on your altitude.)

Dust flour onto the counter or a bread board. Punch down the dough, place some flour on your hands and knead with a light touch.

lucia shapes
Image Credit :: Första Kokboken

Pinch off some dough and roll into “ropes”. Then shape into “S” shapes, oxen, and other shapes. Place on greased baking sheet and let rise for 30 minutes. Decorate with raisins and brush on beaten egg (it makes the rolls shiny!). Bake at 425⁰ for 5 – 7 minutes, watch carefully because they burn easily. You may have to adjust for your oven.

Let your newly baked bread cool under a towel. Then it will be nice and soft.

Hot chocolate, tea, and coffee are great drinks to round out your tray.

Music for St. Lucia Day

There are many beautiful Swedish songs celebrating Lucia. Here are five of my favorites that would make a great Lucia playlist (click on the title to be taken to the song on Amazon).

You may also be able to find a Lucia program in your community to attend! If you are in near Washington DC, the American Scandinavian Association has their Lucia program this Saturday. (Find more information here!) I know there are also beautiful programs throughout the country, try googling “Swedish Lucia Festival [your area]” or something similar and see if you can find one near you! (This not-so-great quality photo is actually me as Lucia last night at the Ambassador’s Christmas party at House of Sweden.)

1479298_10101210172711159_1869832731_n

You are beautiful, Linnea! Thank you for this great post. I can’t wait to have you back in the summer when we’ll talk more about Midsommar. :) Readers, be sure to add Linnea’s blog to your bookmarks!

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: 10 Dala Horses


Dala Horse via Monki Vintage
Vintage Dala horse, previously available via Monki Vintage

(Before we get to the rest of the Dala horses, can I be real for a minute?  In interest of full disclosure, I want to apologize that this third annual Scandinavian Christmas series has been a bit thin! I’m so sorry. I know I promised heaps of guest posts from all over Northern Europe. The first two years I did this, so many people from around Scandinavia and the Nordic countries were writing in about their family’s Christmas traditions, and giving us peeks into their homes. There were so many Scandinavian and Nordic Christmas posts! I had no reason to think this year would be any different. But this time around, for whatever reason and despite my best recruitment efforts, the “Christmas” label in my inbox is mostly just echoes, and subsequently that echo has carried over here. I think a few guest posts might trickle in closer to Christmas, but meanwhile, I’ll still have lots of Scandinavian Christmas posts for you. This series — a favorite of mine, and, judging from the stats, yours too — isn’t going anywhere.)

Alright, now back to the Dala horses!

Advent Calendar and Dala horse via casa di falcone blog
Christmas Dala horse via Casa di Falcone

Trädgårdsflow Black Dala Horse
Black Dala Horse via Trädgårdsflow

Dala Horse Christmas Card
Dala horse Christmas card, previously available on Tokyo Pear

røde og hvite emmelines
Red and white dala horses via Emmeline’s Blogg

Unusual Dala horse collection via a maison d'anna g
Unusual Dala horse collection via A Maison d’Anna G

Solid red Dala horse via Solid Fog blog
Solid red Dala horse via the Solid Fog blog

Scandi shabby chic dala horses - all white - Princess Greeneye
Shabby chic all-white Dala horses via Princess Greenye Antiker Landchic

God Jul card by JenniferJohansson on Etsy
God Jul Dala card by JenniferJohansson on Etsy

Anna Viktoria modern Dala horse tea towel via Kings of Sweden

Anna Viktoria modern Dala horse tea towel
via Kings of Sweden

MONDAY’S PRETTY THINGS :: Christmas Greenery


There’s nothing like the piney, earthy scent of fir boughs inside this time of year, don’t you think?

Deconstructed Christmas tree via Free People
Deconstructed Christmas tree via Free People

Herriot Grace Handmade Wooden Grain Spoon

Handmade wooden spoon via Herriot Grace

The home of designer Maria Cornejo and photographer Mark Borthwick
The home of designer Maria Cornejo and photographer Mark Borthwick via Totokaelo

Martha Stewart's Cedar Wreath Chandelier
Wreath chandelier via Martha Stewart

How do you bring the outdoors inside at Christmas?

For your merry perusal, here are some [Christmas-y] Monday’s Pretty Things from the 2012 archives:

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: Christmas by H&M


The Swedish clothing and home brand H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) was founded in 1947, but it’s only in the last decade that they’ve really gained popularity in the United States. But unless you were lucky enough to live near one of their stores, H&M still remained out of reach. But this year — less than six months ago — H&M opened up online shopping to US customers. Woohoo!

In case you, for some odd reason, haven’t already obsessively stalked the Christmas section of their website ;), here are some of the prettiest Christmas images from H&M Home’s Christmas selection.

6 - H and M Home goods - Swedish Scandinavian Christmas

H and M Home goods - Swedish Scandinavian Christmas

2 - H and M Home goods - Swedish Scandinavian Christmas

4 - H and M Home goods - Swedish Scandinavian Christmas

5 - H and M Home goods - Swedish Scandinavian Christmas

See more from H&M.

CHRISTMAS :: A White Tree with Red and Silver


Oaxacaborn blog - 2 - Red and Silver Ornaments on a White Tree

Oaxacaborn blog - California Flag under Tree - Red and Silver Ornaments on a White Tree

Oaxacaborn blog - 3 - Red and Silver Ornaments on a White Tree

Oaxacaborn blog - Red and Silver Ornaments on a White Tree

Last year we used all blue and silver ornaments; this year red won — and I love it!

I tend to only put out a portion of the Christmas box contents each year. Aveline, of course, still wanted to hang all the ornaments so we made a mini clothesline out of twine and let her decorate that with some of the extras.

Do you try out different decorating themes every Christmas, or is your tree more traditional?

INSPIRATION :: Christmas 2013 TOAST UK Catalogue


You know how there are some brands you really love one year, but the following season you’re indifferent? TOAST is not one of those brands. With every single catalogue, the mood created by their photography and staging makes me fall in love with them all over again. This December release is just so rustic and lovely.

Christmas images from TOAST UK December/Winter Catalogue

Christmas images from TOAST UK December/Winter Catalogue

Christmas images from TOAST UK December/Winter Catalogue

Christmas images from TOAST UK December/Winter Catalogue

Christmas images from TOAST UK December/Winter Catalogue

Christmas images from TOAST UK December/Winter Catalogue

Christmas images from TOAST UK December/Winter Catalogue

Christmas images from TOAST UK December/Winter Catalogue

Can’t get enough of TOAST? That’s ok! You can keep on looking through the TOAST archives, or go directly to a particular season in the list below.

CHRISTMAS :: ‘Twas the month before Christmas, and all through the ‘net


With so many posts in my feed lately dealing with “Why we don’t do _________ at Christmas”, I thought I’d add my own (humorous?) take on the subject. – Gina

'Twas the month before Christmas, and all through the 'net all the bloggers were stirring on their weblog gazettes, Some said more mangers and no tree at all;  some said no Santa or Elf on the Wall.

‘Twas the month before Christmas, and all through the ‘net
all the bloggers were stirring on their weblog gazettes,
Typing their opinions up without care
telling all readers to stop and beware

Of traditions and beliefs that could lead them astray,
all said, “It is better to do it this way.”
Some said more mangers and no tree at all;
some said no Santa or Elf on the Wall.

The readers were nestled all snug with their phones
while blog posts and rants spelled out the unknowns,
the harm to your psyche, the harm to your kids,
if you continue to believe what those people did.

When in the comments section there arose such a crash
I thought for certain someone’s head had been bashed.
And to their keyboards readers hustled and typed
adding and stirring and upping the hype.

The moon on this night was largely ignored,
for readers’ eyes were fastened to the electronic board,
where to their rectangular eyes would appear
another blog post promulgating fear,

With new and old phrases, so lively and quick,
but with declarations that sounded so slick.
More rapid than eagles the comments they flew,
and I knew in that moment what I had to do.

More kindness! More mercy! Fewer cat fights.
More grace, more calmness, and more of the Light.
Less “we don’t do Santa” and “we don’t do Elf”;
more of the Savior and less of myself.

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So through my pen my thoughts swirled and flew
as I jotted down reasons for thinking anew.

Christmas is Jesus and the gift of Himself
and salvation’s not threatened because of an elf.
And so in the blogosphere I pulled up a post
to calm the frenzy that had frazzled them most.

If you have a tree or five or you don’t,
if you decorate with a Claus or you won’t,
there is Something at Christmas that’s bigger than you:
the Hope that dawned that day is still new.

So readers and bloggers, quiet your heads,
and rest in the truth you have nothing to dread.
Join me in more joyous talk about what’s true
and less writing all the things we don’t do.

And when in the blogs there arises a clatter
pause and ask yourself if the argument matters.
Now to all you I give an encouraging shout,
“Happy Christmas to all!” And it’s time to log out.

SCANDINAVIAN/NORDIC CHRISTMAS :: Christmas Trees


Happy Friday! Aveline is sitting on my lap, and I’m finishing up my coffee as we listen to music together.  And now let’s peek into a few living rooms in Sweden and Norway, and see what the Christmas trees look like, shall we?

Swedish Christmas Tree on Stairs via tidningenlantliv.se
Swedish Christmas via Lantliv (I love that subtle pattern on the painted wood floors!)

Swedish Christmas via vitaranunkler
Swedish Christmas via Vita Ranunkler

Norwegian Christmas Foto by Kenneth Havgaard via Bo Bedre
Norwegian Christmas; Photograph by Kenneth Havgaard for Bo Bedre

Christmas Tree - Black and White, Nordic - Photographer Nina Holst for Stylizimo Blog
Norwegian Christmas; Photography by Nina Holst for Stylizimo Blog

Have you ever stuck to a simple, more neutral color scheme when decorating for Christmas? It requires so much restraint!


Click here to find out how to contribute to the 3rd Annual Scandinavian / Nordic Christmas Series.

SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS :: 5 Ideas for an Advent Calendar / Julkalender / Adventskalender


For those of you who plan ahead, here are a handful of visually inspiring Advent calendar projects you can make yourself.

Advent Calendar via Dandee Designs via Advent Calendar Ideas on Oaxacaborn

Advent Calendar via Dandee Designs – This beautiful calendar has printed advent activity cards attached to the back of each hanging tag.

Advent Calendar via babyramen via Advent Calendar Ideas on Oaxacaborn

Advent Calendar via Babyramen – Hand-stamped white bags are clothes-pinned to a string in this simple advent calendar.

minikunst - Last minute advent calendar

Advent Calendar via miniKUNST – Little notes tucked into drilled holes – so clever!

adventkalender og adventstake via innsidenut

Advent Calendar via innsidenUt – White paper bags on white shelves — this one is an intriguing combination of intricate and minimalist.

Adventskalender - emmaleinswelt

Advent Calendar via Emmas Welt – I love the Dala horse detail here; click through to see her entire adventskalender.

Will you be putting together an Advent calendar this year? What have you done in the past?

We plan on doing this activity-based one from Lifesong for Orphans, but I’m not sure I’ll assemble an DIY project in addition to that (despite what I said last year when I was talking about Advent calendar ideas. ;)


Want to contribute to the 3rd Annual Scandinavian/Nordic Christmas Series? Click here to find out how!