FC: Christmas and Lystig Jul: A comparison of the Christmas traditions of America and Norway.
1: It is worth noting that there are a variety of different cultures in both America and Norway that celebrate holidays other than Christmas, and some don't celebrate Christmas at all. But for the purpose of this book, the focus will be on the general Christmas traditions of both countries.
2: Dinner is an important part of the Christmas festivities in both America and Norway. | In America, many families traditionally cook up a turkey, or a ham, as their main dish. Potatoes, along with other vegetables, are a favorite side dish.
3: In Norway, the traditional main dish of the Lystig Jul feast is the rib roast with crackling. | Another favorite dish is the cream porridge, which is made out of sour cream and flour.
4: In America, the traditional centerpiece of the home, or office, decorations is the Christmas tree. Some families go out and cut down a tree, or buy a real tree at a Christmas tree farm. Others buy fake trees so that they can reuse them every year. Americans decorate their trees with various ornaments, garland, and lights.
5: During the midwinter feast in Norway, evergreen branches, mistletoe and holly are the main decorations used. | They are hung in doorways, on barns, and in homes. | Families harvest these special decorations from forests on their land, or they purchase bundles from their neighbors or local markets.
6: An important event celebrated in America is the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. People from all over the world gather to watch the lighting of the giant tree. | Another time-honored tradition is the Nutcracker Ballet.
7: An important day celebrated during the Christmas season in Norway is St. Lucia's Day. | St. Lucia's Day is celebrated in honor of Saint Lucy, the young girl who, according to legend, died a martyr in Sicily. This night used to be called Lussinatten. It was the longest night of the year and no work was to be done. From that night until Christmas, spirits, gnomes, and trolls supposedly roamed the earth. Lussi, a feared enchantress, punished anyone who dared work.
8: The American version of the Santa Claus figure received its inspiration and its name from the Dutch legend of Sinter Klaas, brought by settlers to New York in the 17th century. Santa, in America, is portrayed as a jolly and generous man who brings presents to good boys and girls every Christmas Eve.
9: Santa Claus is known as "Julenisse" in Norway. According to old superstition, the nisse was the original settler of the land. His primary duty was to protect the land and buildings. He kept the farm in good order and would be helpful as long as he got his Christmas porridge or Christmas beer on Christmas Eve. Many farms would make up a bed for the nisse on Christmas Eve and the honorary place at the table stood ready and waiting for him.
11: Although the Christmas traditions in America and Norway differ, the spirit of Christmas remains the same. Christmas brings families, friends, and neighbors together to share a time of love, fun, food, and laughter, and a time when wonderful memories are created.