When we think about exploring other cities or countries, we often compare our lives to the lives of people who live in these other places. Are they similar or different to us in values, entertainment or tastes?
Close your eyes and think about December. What do you see in your mind’s eye? Maybe you see a lighting of the Shabbat candles, a manger or a bendera. The symbols that come to mind are likely connected to holiday traditions your family shares.
The culture in Norway is to take holiday traditions seriously because they have been beloved for so long. Their traditions revolve around a holiday called Jul, which is Norway’s name for Christmas. To imagine a Norwegian Jul, think of a fireplace-warmed home heavy with snow and the smell of spiced clementine.
Most begin making preparations in early December, not unlike many families you probably know. On Dec. 24, a family dinner is served, typically featuring either pork or lamb ribs. This probably sounds familiar to you, but does your family celebrate Santa Lucia Day Dec. 13?
Today, this celebration is one of light, as “Lucia” is derived from its Latin origins, and it’s quite a big deal for school children all over the Nordic country. As it’s now a sort of festival of lights, it may be hard to imagine that it used to represent the darkest day of the calendar year when those who celebrated Christmas would mark their door with crosses to ward off the trail of unsettled dead souls (the Asgard parade).