Enjoy the holiday traditions inside and outside of Vesterheim’s Norwegian Christmas

DECORAH – Kick off the holiday season with a Norwegian Christmas celebration at Vesterheim, the Norwegian-American National Museum and School of Folk Art, Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All outdoor activities are free and entry to the main museum building is free for children thanks to the support of David and Cyndy Hill.

This annual festival is back with many the usual traditional activities, but with a new ‘friluftsliv’ touch. “Friluftsliv is a central concept in Nordic culture. It literally translates to ‘outdoor living’ and expresses a Scandinavian passion for nature, ”said event organizer Martha Griesheimer. “In fact, there is a well-known saying in Norwegian which translates: ‘There is no bad weather; only bad clothes, ‘”

The main museum building will be open to the interior and decorated for the holidays, but all special celebratory activities will take place outside in the Vesterheim Heritage Park.

Vesterheim Norwegian Christmas visitors can visit real goats from the Lost Pine farm in Decorah. (Vesterheim)

In this open-air “koselig” (cozy) atmosphere, enjoy familiar traditions such as “juletrefest” (Norwegian Christmas tree festival consisting of singing around a decorated tree); live music by local musicians; real goats from Lost Pine Farm in Decorah, courtesy of Mike and Erin Ryan; holiday crafts; hot chocolate and Scandinavian s’mores around a fire; and a visit to the “julenisse”.

Visitors will also experience several things unique to this year’s event, starting with a Norwegian Holiday Bake Sale hosted by Decorah’s junior Nordic dancers with favorite Norwegian specialties such as krumkake, kringle, rosettes, sandbakkels and lefse.

Plus, learn about snowshoes from Lily Jensen of Winneshiek County Conservation. If there is snow, visitors can even try them out. Also check out the Sparks, the popular sledges traditionally used in Norway for racing and now used for enjoying the outdoors. There will be a modern sparkle on the outside and a historic sparkle in the Vesterheim collection inside the main building.

In Vesterheim’s Valdres House, a historic home in Norway, there will be an art area with supplies for making traditional Norwegian heart baskets and other fiber art. Vesterheim Folk Art School will offer a limited number of free “FamilieKlubb” kits supported by the American Scandinavian Foundation. These activities are designed to inspire families to explore Norwegian folk art and language at home.

The Norman Borlaug Foundation (NBHF) will sell “julenek”, sheaves of wheat, grown from Borlaug wheat, which was developed in the 1960s by Dr. Norman Borlaug of Howard County in an effort to fight hunger. in the world. In Norway, on Christmas Eve, “julenek” are hung outside to feed the birds. The NBHF uses the proceeds from sales of “julenek” to support the supply of its food program which packages meals for people living in areas of the world with food scarcity.

This celebration is also a great opportunity to see Vesterheim’s special exhibitions including “Innovators and Inventors”, “Socially Distanced, Creatively Connected” and “The Journey of an Artist: Carl Homstad, 50”.

If the weather becomes too cold, snowy or windy for the warmest “friluftsliv” event attendees, event cancellation announcements will be made on Vesterheim’s social media and vesterheim.org.


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