When I was growing up, we always celebrated a Scandinavian Christmas. Father was a Thorvaldsen, from Norway (name was changed to Day when they arrived in America).
We gathered around family and friends on Christmas Eve to a buffet filled with Scandinavian yummies. Everyone tried each thing, deciding what they liked and what they had the "guts" to handle, as some of the foods were rather unusual for American palates.
After supper, we opened our gifts. On Christmas night, us five children piled up into one bedroom to be sure no one escaped, and awaiting Santa who left gifts under the tree unopened.
The rice pudding had an almond hidden in one of the dishes. Whoever found it, won a marzipan pig. Christmas rice pudding is made from rice porridge. Recipe here.
Then, there's lutefisk. This is cod treated in lye. One running theme for Smorgasbord was foods that were either pickled, dried, or made to last. This was one such nasty thing. I swore that we had Smorgasbord one time a year to give thanks that we came to America. I loved all the foods that were served, but it was a rite of passage to choke this particular one down and the only way I could was to drown it in apple cider vinegar.
Our buffet was set with a huge array to choose from including Scandinavian cheeses like: Getost "yay-toast" (my favorite) made from goat's milk and is anywhere from a honey brown to a orange and has a caramel toasted flavor. Jarlsberg: A swiss cheese equivalent. These were served on a platter with flatbread (cracker like bread), grainy mustard, capers, thin slices of lox (salmon), cream cheese, and the favorite smoked salmon spread (recipe above). There was a huge assortment of pickled vegetables and fish including pickled herring. A section was reserved for packed fish in oils including sardines, oysters and anchovies. There was thinly sliced ham and Swedish meatballs (for family and friends who couldn't palate the regular foods).
The sweets were an amazing part of the assortment, as well as fudges and homemade candies. People are lucky enough to live near an Ikea have a nice little Scandinavian shop inside they can get many of their favorites for the occasion.
Here are recipes for some typical types of foods and drinks:
Norwegian Ginger Cookies
This year, my interest in starting smorgasbord tradition is in place as I am about to become a grandmother for the first time. I hope to share the tradition with my little granddaughter
and hopefully in a future relationship in which I can have a holiday with the man I love and his family, as well.
Right now, I've just started working on a Nordic Santa in a blizzard painting to go over yearly Smorgasbord buffet. I hope to have this one done by the end of the year. I need to develop his look, his walking stick, and the blizzard. I hope to make it an heirloom for my grandchild for her adulthood and smorgasbords perhaps with her family some day in the future.
I am wishing my dear readers a wonderful season, time with family and friends, reconnecting with estranged family, healing, replenishing, and renewal.