We have been in business for over 40yrs and over that time we have learned a lot about our Scandinavian Heritage, both from our parents and our friends. Many of our Friends are the very craftsmen in Scandinavia that have made the products we have sold over the years. Their knowledge of the origins and stories behind the products has always fascinated us.
Last year a good friend, former employee and now author suggested that we start writing down some of our stories and reminiscences so that the next generation could learn from us. This is our Advent Calendar of sorts for getting ready for the Jul Season.
The Jul Celebration was celebrated in Scandinavia long before Christmas. Back in Viking days the very word JUL meant Celebration and it lasted 5 days by Viking Law. During the JUL Feast no work was done. Even firewood was stacked to last through the Celebration. The Jul started on the Winter Solstice, with Food, Drink, special observances and decorations. To accomplish all of this there were rules that came into play. These became the "First Advent Calendar" of sorts. Each led to the next so that by the Evening of the Winter Solstice all was made ready.
As time moved forward and Christianity spread throughout Scandinavia there was a blending of the old and new. That is where we get most of our Traditions that we celebrate now. However, as hard as the Church tried they could not change Jul to Christmas in all of Scandinavia.
By the end of the First Week of the Jul all of the Milling and Slaughtering had to be finished. The reason was that the countdown had begun. At the end of that first week the fat from the pigs was separated out for cooking and for candle making. The First Sunday of the Jul was set aside for making candles. The whitest ones were set aside for the Jul Feast and the others were used to light the house for the rest of the season. Winters in Scandinavia are long, dark and cold.
Ice Candles were fashioned to help light up the house and yards. These served to protect the stout wicked candles that were the last to be formed. In 1973 the artists at Kosta Boda reinvented the Ice Candles of old with the introduction of the "Snowball Candle Holder" and the celebration of Fire and Ice was reborn.
In the early to mid 1800's the tradition of Jul Visits began. If you were home and were ready to receive guests you would place a Lighted Candelabra in your front window. This was known as a Welcome Light. We still sell Scandinavian Welcome Lights in either 5 Light and 7 light varieties. They still welcome guests over the Jul Season.
Jul Visitors were always welcomed with a full selection of Baked Goods including Sandbakkels, Rosettes, Krumkakke, Fattigman, Goro, and other delicacies. As wine became more accessable in the late 1800's Scandinavians began making Glogg and it was served as soon as you arrived to help you warm up.
Next: Week 2 of the Jul Preparations