December 23, 2013
December 23, 2013
by Barbara Schock
More than likely Clara and August Sandburg brought some Christmas traditions in their memories when they emigrated to America. The Swedes and Germans who settled in Galesburg during the nineteenth century enjoyed their Christmas customs. Gradually, the Yankee residents gave up their staid ways and joined in the celebration.
At the winter solstice, December 20th, the Vikings conducted rites to encourage the gods to hurry the return of the sun and make sure nature would grow in its natural abundance when the next season came. In the ninth century the country, now known as Sweden, adopted a new religion, Christianity. The two traditions were combined and continued together through history.
The Swedes dearly love their holiday season. Homemakers bake traditional cakes and cookies to serve their families. The shops are full of cheerful decorations and goods for gift-giving. Every effort is made to overcome the dark skies and stormy weather.
Christmas Eve is the time when gifts are exchanged and families come together for the Christmas dinner. The menu usually includes some of the traditional smorgasbord dishes such as herring salad, pickled beets, meat balls, sausages and liver pate. Lutfisk (often joked about in the United States) is served with cream sauce, boiled potatoes, mustard and green peas.
Dessert is usually rice porridge with a single almond in it. The person who receives the almond in his or her dish is supposed to get married during the coming year. Or perhaps, it will bring good luck if the person is already married.
Christmas Rice Pudding
1 cup rice
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup water
5 cups milk
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 whole almond
Rinse rice. Melt half of butter in a saucepan or double boiler, add rice and water and boil it 10 to 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Add milk and cinnamon stick and simmer 45 minutes or until milk is almost absorbed, season and add remaining butter and almond. Serve with cold milk and additional cinnamon and sugar. Makes 6 servings.