Sandburg's Hometown

December 23, 2013

Christmas Eve in Sweden.  Carl Larsson (1904)
 Carl Larsson (Swedish Realist Painter, 1853-1919) Christmas Eve 1904

Swedish Christmas

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.

Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
December 23, 2013 Swedish Christmas
December 16, 2013 The Reporter Sees Santa
December 9, 2013 The Coming of Christmas
December 2, 2013 The Fire Boys Talk
November 25, 2013 Galesburg Will Feast on Turkeys and Cranberries - Thanksgiving 1893
November 18, 2013  Mary Sandburg Johnson
November 11, 2013 Carl Sandburg's Bicycle
November 4, 2013  Lace Curtains 
October 28, 2013 The Front Room
October 21, 2013 A Warm Breakfast
October 14, 2013 Marion D. Shutter
October 7, 2013 Cigars and Consumption
September 30, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke & August Sandburg
September 16, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke, Mayor
September 9, 2013 Dusty Streets
September 2, 2013 Typhoid Fever
August 26, 2013 Coffee and Water
August 19, 2013 A Horse! A Horse!
August 12, 2013 Gaddial Scott
August 5, 2013 The Racetrack
July 29, 2013 John Peter Algeld - Part II
July 22, 2013 John Peter Altgeld - Part I
July 15, 2013 Tramps, Tramps, Tramps
July 8, 2013 Lady Liberty
July 1, 2013 Galesburg's Fourth
June 24, 2013 John H. Finley
June 17, 2013 The World's Columbian Exhibition
June 10, 2013 Fruit Short-Cake
June 3, 2013 Horatio Alger, Author
May 27, 2013 Memorial Day, 1887
May 20, 2013 Professor Jon W. Grubb
May 13, 2013 Beginnings of Lombard University
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
March 25, 2013  The Lost Wallpaper Legend 
March 18, 2013 Martin G. Sandburg
March 4, 2013 The Edison Talking Machine
February 25, 2013 Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran
February 18, 2013 Remember the Maine...
February 11, 2013 Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 Curiosity